Spurs 1 Villareal 4 - Rossi sinks Spurs

By Ben Pearce at White Hart Lane Former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi hit a hat-trick as Spurs suffered the first defeat of their pre-season campaign on their return to White Hart Lane. Rossi, who made 14 appearances for United between October

By Ben Pearce at White Hart Lane

Former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi hit a hat-trick as Spurs suffered the first defeat of their pre-season campaign on their return to White Hart Lane.

Rossi, who made 14 appearances for United between October 2004 and July 2007, slotted two carbon copy left-foot finishes across Heurelho Gomes in the first half to give the Spanish outfit a 2-0 lead at the break.

And, although Spurs' Mexican World Cup star Giovani Dos Santos halved the deficit in the 57th minute, 23-year-old Rossi completed his treble 20 minutes from the end, volleying home from 25 yards.

Many of the Lilywhites complained of tiredness, having returned from their tour of America on Monday, while Spurs' World Cup contingent had only returned to training at the start of the week.

However, Tottenham were largely embarrassed by Villarreal, who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006 - having eliminated Everton in the third qualifying round - but only finished seventh in La Liga last season, missing Europe altogether.

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Tottenham will be desperate to avoid Everton's fate next month but they were given a worrying taste of what they will face on the continent last night, with Spain internationals Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla the chief architects in midfield.

Spurs were not outclassed but the big moments went against them, and Rossi's deadly finishing proved the difference, while Villarreal wasted numerous chances to aggravate the scoreline further in the closing stages.

Redknapp picked a strong side, with Gomes starting in goal behind a back four of Alan Hutton, Michael Dawson, Vedran Corluka and left-back Kyle Naughton.

Tom Huddlestone lined up with Jermaine Jenas in the centre, with Aaron Lennon and Niko Kranjcar on the flanks, behind a front two of Jermain Defoe and skipper Robbie Keane.

Villarreal produced the first efforts on goal, with David Fuster wrapping a low, curling effort around the right post from 12 yards and Cazorla firing a rising drive wide from 25 yards.

Tottenham felt they should have had a penalty in the 18th minute when Defoe seemed to be pushed from behind, but the England's striker's appeals were waved away.

Jenas, who had been careless in possession, limped off in the 19th minute and was replaced by Danny Rose, who had also played 45 minutes for Tim Sherwood's Spurs XI at Leyton Orient the previous night.

Two minutes after his arrival, Villarreal took the lead as Cazorla threaded the ball through to Rossi, who slotted across Gomes from the inside left channel of the penalty area.

Spurs responded, with Rose shooting wide from 20 yards before Defoe gathered a Kranjcar back-heel and hit a snapshot straight at goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

But Villarreal doubled their lead in the 31st minute as Dawson failed to cut out a pass to Rossi, who was left all alone to advance into the area and dispatch an identical finish inside Gomes' far post from the left corner of the six-yard box.

Redknapp made seven changes at the break, with goalkeeper David Button, Kyle Walker, Sebastien Bassong and Benoit Assou-Ekotto coming into the rearguard. Gareth Bale replaced Lennon and Kranjcar switched to the right flank, while Giovani and Peter Crouch came on for Keane and Defoe.

Bale made an instant impact, bursting past his full-back and crossing from the by-line. Somehow the ball was allowed to reach Walker at the back post but, surprised, the young full-back could only stab the ball high and wide from six yards.

Two minutes later Giovani whipped the ball across the danger area, with Crouch agonisingly failing to reach the ball on the slide, and Kranjcar then saw a fine finish disallowed for offside.

Spurs finally scored less than a minute later as Crouch advanced to the edge of the box and poked the ball right for the overlapping Giovani, who clipped the ball past Lopez from the right corner of the six-yard box.

Tottenham nearly levelled as Lopez recovered to grasp a looping Crouch header, having been knocked to the ground in a packed goalmouth seconds previously.

However, that was as close as the home side came to equalising. Twenty minutes from time Button tried to trick his way out of a tight spot and failed to adequately clear his lines. The ball fell to Rossi and the American-born Italian volleyed home from 25 yards.

Spurs nearly hit back immediately as Giovani twisted and turned and teed up Kranjcar, whose low, curling effort was brilliantly saved at full stretch.

But, moments later, Villarreal substitute Jefferson Montero somehow contrived to miss an open goal from three yards, after Button had gone off limits and been lobbed.

The visitors kept coming and Button was required to save one-on-one with his feet before Marco Ruben fired over from 10 yards and Montero shot wide.

Dean Parrett replaced Tom Huddlestone and Adel Taarabt was also introduced for Kranjcar, going on to encapsulate his frustrating duality in a 10-minute cameo.

The Moroccan's first touch was a cheeky nutmeg and his second a sumptuous one-touch backheel to Parrett. But Redknapp was left shaking his head as Taarabt over-elaborated a crossing opportunity and found the midriff of Lopez, before attempting another nutmeg and losing the ball.

Four minutes from time Villarreal netted their fourth as Ruben finished from close range and it could have been worse as the Spaniards hit the bar late on.

"I thought they were excellent, a really good side that played good football," said Redknapp. "They were sharp, bright and lively and I was very impressed with them.

"It just shows how hard it will be when we get into Europe. They passed and moved and that's how they play the game, the kids play like it, they all play like it and that's perhaps how we should all be playing the game. They were very, very good, very impressive."

Tottenham travel to Portugal to take on Benfica on Tuesday, before returning to the Lane to host Fiorentina next Saturday.