Late goal sees off Brentford in friendly
Spurs 2-1 Brentford
21 July 2018|Tottenham Hotspur
A goal in each half – including a late winner from Georges-Kevin Nkoudou – saw off a spirited Brentford side 2-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Hotspur Way on Saturday evening.
In a useful contest against the Championship outfit, who fashioned a handful of chances over the course of the game and could have scored more than once, Fernando Llorente got the final touch on Victor Wanyama’s shot to give us the lead seven minutes before the interval.
The Bees were always a threat on the counter and shortly after half-time substitute Paulo Gazzaniga had saved Alan Judge’s fierce drive, Neal Maupay rammed home from the right side of the box to level the scores.
Dominating the game, we saw a lull in terms of shooting chances in the moments that followed, but business picked up in the last 15 minutes and after Heung-Min Son – on at the break for his first action of pre-season after returning from World Cup duty with South Korea – turned Nkoudou’s cross just over the bar, the roles were reversed as Son sent the Frenchman bursting down the left and the winger converted from a very tight angle in the 90th minute.
As in the midweek victory over Southend United, Mauricio Pochettino used the match to give minutes to many of our senior stars along with some younger players. Starting goalkeeper Michel Vorm had early efforts from Maupay and Judge covered as the Bees found themselves with some early opportunities, despite seeing much less of the ball.
Left winger Anthony Georgiou and right-back Serge Aurier provided some pacy attacking outlets down the flanks, but our best chance of the opening exchanges fell to Llorente, who was denied by a brilliant save from onrushing goalkeeper Daniel Bentley after a defence-splitting through ball from Erik Lamela.
Aurier made an excellent recovery run to intercept the ball after Judge and Maupay went racing through on Vorm while Lewis Macleod dragged across goal and wide, but we were always in control and after some determined work from Ben Davies saw Lamela’s deflected shot palmed behind, we took a 38th-minute lead. The lively Georgiou caused panic in the Brentford ranks, weaving his way out to the side of the box on the left before pulling the ball back for Wanyama. He took aim on his right foot from just outside the area and Llorente got a touch to send the ball spinning up over the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
There was a golden chance for Brentford to equalise nine minutes after half-time when Nikolaj Kirk hooked over the bar from close range after Gazzaniga had dived bravely at the feet of Maupay. Gazzaniga then denied Judge before Maupay levelled on 59 minutes, making the most of a quick through pass after the ball broke kindly for the visitors further back to lash home.
With changes made throughout the second period, our central midfield area had a youthful energy about it towards the end with Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Luke Amos, George Marsh and Oliver Skipp all deployed, while Nkoudou frequently got the better of Brentford’s right-back thanks to a blistering turn of pace. Kyle Walker-Peters also made inroads down the right side.
After himself firing over from 20 yards with 10 minutes left, Nkoudou saw his cross turned just over at the near post by Son before the winner arrived in the last minute of normal time. Son roamed across the 18-yard line from right to left in search of a gap to shoot, one never materialised so he laid the perfect pass through for Nkoudou to race down the left and drill low into the far corner from a very tight angle.
It rounded off a good evening’s graft as the squad prepares to fly out to the United States for our summer tour on Sunday morning.