Stalemate as Spurs and Liverpool meet in America
Pre-season friendly: Tottenham 0 Liverpool 0
Tottenham followed their draw with LA Galaxy with a goalless tie against Liverpool in Baltimore this evening as Andre Villas-Boas continues his pre-season preparations in America.
A classic Premier League-style clash always looked unlikely in the 35-degree heat, and the spectacle was hardly aided by the length of the turf, which slowed the ball and the pace of the game.
Spurs had the best chance of the match as Aaron Lennon prodded a Gareth Bale cross against the post from all of one yard shortly before the break – but that was the highlight of an uninspiring meeting between two sides who will nonetheless have benefited from the run-out.
Spurs were the brighter team in the opening exchanges, giving Liverpool precious little time to keep possession and find their passes – even along the back line.
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However, it was the Reds who had the first efforts at goal as Stewart Downing and JonJo Shelvey tried their luck from outside the box, but neither were able to really test the American Brad Friedel.
Spurs were theoretically playing in their now-familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, but the picture was confused by the fact that Gareth Bale – who was wearing the No9 shirt again – was roaming around the field, while Aaron Lennon spent the early stages of the half on the left flank.
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The result was a lack of cohesion in the final third – but Tottenham created a good chance in the 16th minute as Harry Kane gathered Gylfi Sigurdsson’s firmly-hit through ball with immaculate control before firing narrowly across goal.
Bale had been ineffective in the first 20 minutes – but he nonetheless fell victim to a cynical challenge from Charlie Adam, who had prematurely ended the Welshman’s season with a nasty tackle in May 2011 during his time at Blackpool.
Bale stayed down and received treatment on his ankle, but carried on until the interval.
Meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas’ high defensive line was in operation again and, having been exploited by LA Galaxy on a number of occasions on Wednesday morning, Liverpool also took advantage of the space behind the Lilywhites’ defence.
The young Liverpool striker Adam Morgan sprung the offside trap to latch onto a ball over the top of the Tottenham rearguard, but the angle was against him and Friedel was able to save at his near post.
That was as good as it got for Brendan Rodgers’ side – and Spurs should have gone into the break with a lead.
With Bale now sticking to the left flank, Spurs’ formation came into better focus, and the Lilywhites winger suddenly began to show his customary creativity.
Two minutes before the interval Bale drifted infield from the touch-line and dinked a right-footed cross to the back post where the onrushing Lennon – who was nervously eyeing an imminent collision with the post – prodded the ball against the upright from point-black range.
Moments later Bale picked out Sigurdsson with a deep, left-footed delivery, and the Iceland international sent a flicked header at goal – but straight at Brad Jones.
Bale was withdrawn at the break, with Andros Townsend entering the fray, while Kyle Walker was also introduced in place of Kyle Naughton.
The second half began in a similar vein to the first, with Liverpool’s Nathan Ecclestone firing at goal but failing to really test Friedel, while Martin Skrtel also saw a 20-yard effort comfortably saved.
Villas-Boas summoned Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone and David Bentley from the bench – and Huddlestone delivered a chipped pass through for William Gallas, who just beat Liverpool’s substitute keeper Peter Gulacsi to the ball but lobbed high and wide.
That was the last real chance as constant changes by both sides continued to disrupt the flow of an already turgid game, and the action was generally consigned to the dug-outs as Tom Carroll, Jan Vertonghen and Adam Smith replaced Lennon, Gallas and Jermaine Jenas in the closing stages.
Carroll saw a late effort saved, but neither side could find a winner. Tottenham go on to take on New York Red Bulls, who could field Thierry Henry and their new signing Tim Cahill, on Tuesday.
Tottenham: Friedel, Naughton (Walker 45), Gallas (Vertonghen 75), Kaboul (Dawson 60), Assou-Ekotto (Bassong 60), Jenas (Smith 82), Livermore (Huddlestone 60), Lennon (Carroll 70), Sigurdsson (Bentley 60), Bale (Townsend 45), Kane
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs