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Wolfsburg beaten by Under-23s

Spurs 2-1 Wolfsburg (Premier League International Cup)

Mon 03 December 2018, 21:06|Tottenham Hotspur

Goals either side of half-time from Jack Roles and Kazaiah Sterling got our Under-23s off to a winning start in the Premier League International Cup against VfL Wolfsburg at Stevenage on Monday night.

The German side flexed their muscles from the off as both teams squandered chances, but as the game progressed our attacking midfield trio of Paris Maghoma, Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Roles started to find space to harm the visitors and after Sterling nodded wide, Roles produced an excellent curling finish from a tight angle to punish goalkeeper Niklas Klinger for a mistake and give us a deserved lead in first-half added time.

Sterling then dealt the visitors a massive blow with a well-taken strike from outside the box just two minutes into the second period and from there, in spite of some renewed pressure from Wolfsburg in the last 15 minutes, which included a goal from captain Dan Hanslik from a corner with eight minutes to go, we saw out the win to put three points on the board in our group ahead of games against Norwich City and Athletic Bilbao early in the New Year.

Wolfsburg pressed us back and fired an early warning shot when Felix Klaus beat Brandon Austin but hit the inside of the post, while we almost found an opener when Maghoma took over an attack after a foul on Sterling but carried the ball too far wide as he tried to round Klinger and the chance slipped away.

The teams continued to trade good opportunities, Austin notably forced into a double save from John Yeboah and Malcolm Badu just before the half-hour mark, but Maghoma was majestic on the ball as he started to make inroads into the Wolfsburg defence and put us onto the front foot. Sterling headed wide at the back post from Dylan Duncan's cross but we found the breakthrough two minutes into added time at the end of the first half as Roles dispossessed keeper Klinger on the byline on our left and curled brilliantly into the empty net from an acute angle.

It was 2-0 less than two minutes into the second half as Roles sent Sterling scurrying free down the left flank, he cut in-field and unleashed a fierce strike on his right foot with little back-lift, which left Klinger rooted to the spot as it flew inside the near post from 20 yards. Duncan almost finished off a fluid team move a few minutes later but saw his volley saved.

Still the chances came for both sides, but we always seemed in control, with another positive coming in the 65th minute as winger Anthony Georgiou marked his return from injury. Maghoma blazed over after another excellent weaving run but Wolfsburg grabbed a goal back with eight minutes to go. Left-back Gian-Luca Itter, whose identical twin brother Davide came on at right-back for the last half-an-hour, delivered a corner which Hanslick met with a header, his powerful effort deflecting in off Austin's right-hand post. It came in a period in the ascendancy for the visitors and they continued to get balls into the area, but we held firm to pick up a well-deserved win.

Key moment

Sterling's goal came at an important time as we put daylight between the sides. It was a well-taken strike less than two minutes into the second half and gave us enough of a cushion to ultimately win the game.

We were playing against a team that won comfortably in their first game in the competition, beating Athletic Bilbao 4-0.

Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett

Coach's view

Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett felt the outcome was the correct one, but was still left frustrated by some of the chances that went begging over the course of the game.

“Overall we probably deserved to win but we made tough work of it in the second half and didn't get control of the game when we had the opportunity to do so,” he said. “But overall I'm pleased because we were playing against a team that won comfortably in their first game in the competition, beating Athletic Bilbao 4-0. They've got some good players but I thought some of our players performed admirably. We competed, we worked hard as a team, but the overall performance wasn't as fitting as I'd have liked.

“Jack Roles took his goal well – he's got a knack of scoring goals – and Kazaiah's was well-taken, but we had a number of opportunities which we didn't capitalise on. The stats show that we had more shots than Wolfsburg so we're pleased with that, but we could have won the game more comfortably if we'd taken our chances.”

Spurs 2-1 Wolfsburg (Premier League International Cup)

Spurs: Austin, Hinds, Brown, Marsh, Tanganga (c), Eyoma, Oakley-Boothe, Duncan (Reynolds 72), Sterling, Maghoma (Pochettino 83), Roles (Georgiou 65). Substitutes (not used): Glover, Thorpe.

VfL Wolfsburg: Klinger, Badu, G Itter, May, Ziegele (Moker 74), Siersleben, Klaus, Seguin, Hanslik (c), Saglam (Herrmann 58), Yeboah (D Itter 59). Substitutes (not used): Tasche, Messeguem.

Match data

Goals: Spurs - Roles 45+2, Sterling 47; Wolfsburg - Hanslik 82.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Tanganga 21, Duncan 65, Marsh 90+1; Wolfsburg - Saglam 15, May 39, Klaus 56, Ziegele 68, Seguin 72.

Referee: Savvas Yianni.

Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.

Weather: Partly cloudy, six degrees.

Attendance: 433.