Valencia 2-0 Tottenham: Jonas & Feghouli hand Villas-Boas first pre-season setback
Lennon came closest for Spurs, but the English side's lack of cutting edge up front was highlighted as they closed their summer build-up with a maiden defeat for the Portuguese
By Jay Jaffa
Tottenham lost their final pre-season friendly at the Mestalla on Thursday evening as Sofiane Feghouli and a stunning Jonas strike handed Valencia a 2-0 victory.
Andre Villas-Boas' side enjoyed plenty of possession in what was their most promising performance of the summer but, despite going close via Aaron Lennon in the first half, the north Londoners lacked the incisive edge needed to avoid defeat.
Only William Gallas, Jake Livermore and Jermaine Jenas are unlikely to be considered first-team starters when the Premier League season kicks off next week in what was a strong starting XI. For Valencia, new signings Fernando Gago, Diego Lopez, Andres Guardado and Joao Pereira featured from the off.
Kick-off was delayed slightly as the hosts put on an impressive pre-match presentation that included a choir, firework display and trapeze artists, adding a touch of glamour rarely seen at pre-season games.
Despite a promising opening ten minutes from Tottenham, the first chance fell to the hosts, though it was largely self-inflicted as Brad Friedel's heavy first-touch forced him into a 50-50 tackle inside his own box.
But Spurs remained patient and almost broke the deadlock on the 14th minute as Lennon found himself unmarked at the back post from a deep corner. His first-time volley was well saved by summer signing Lopez and, although Lennon pounced on the rebound, the former Villarreal goalkeeper stood tall to shovel the ball behind for a corner.
No more than a minute later, Lennon found room on the right flank to drill a low cross inside the six-yard box but what was normally a chance Jermain Defoe would tuck away blindfolded, the 29-year-old couldn't coordinate his feet in time and saw the ball deflect off him to safety.
The miss proved costly for Spurs as Jonas found room in the midfield to carry the ball forward before cannoning a 25-yard drive into Friedel's top right-hand corner. It was an unstoppable shot, worthy of a stage far bigger than a friendly.
And it was almost 2-0 minutes later as a pull-back was turned to the far post where it seemed Paco Alcacer would tap home, but he missed his kick and granted Villas-Boas' side a reprieve.
Though Tottenham continued to probe, Valencia always carried a threat and this was shown again through another Jonas shot from outside of the box – this time just flying wide of the Spurs goal.
Lennon and Bale swapped flanks as has been customary this pre-season and although the former looked lively as he came in off the flank, the Welshman found himself more isolated on the right wing.
Valencia were content to let Spurs have the larger chunk of possession but almost doubled their lead after a splendid cross from Joao Pereira was headed just wide by Feghouli. Moments later Friedel had to be sharp off his line to deny Feghouli again as he latched onto an exquisite clipped pass from Gago.
Villas-Boas would have seen promise in some of his team's approach play but left frustrated by the lack of penetration around the box. It gave the head coach plenty to ponder as the Spurs went in at the break 1-0 down.
The second half saw Spurs emerge with the same XI and a renewed vigour. First, Kyle Walker's through ball sent Defoe in behind but Lopez snuffed out the danger, taking a whack to his left knee in the process, before Gylfi Sigurdsson turned a weighted ball over the top to Defoe, but his left-foot effort was deflected into the arms of the Valencia keeper.
On the hour mark, Rafael van der Vaart replaced Jenas, marking a return to first-team action after a groin injury sustained on the club's US tour. The Dutchman slotted into his favoured No.10 position, behind Defoe to push Sigurdsson deeper.
Predictably the game developed into a more open affair and Spurs almost found a way back as Lennon and Walker linked up well on the right, leading to the winger nipping into the box, past one challenge but delivering a cross over the onrushing attackers.
Joao Pereira pounced on the loose ball sparking a counter-attack with Feghouli that was just smuggled clear by Jan Vertonghen, who was having his most steady game in a Spurs shirt.
However, substitute Dani Parejo slipped a neat pass into the impressive Feghouli on the 76th minute and though Vertonghen ushered the Algerian away from goal, the 22-year-old still found an angle to lash a vicious shot past Friedel and into the bottom corner.
The goal prompted Villas-Boas into making a series of substitutions, resting tired legs and handing opportunities to Harry Kane, Andros Townsend and Kyle Naughton.
Indeed, a further opportunity was provided to Spurs as Tino Costa's persistent badgering of the referee led to him seeing red for dissent in the closing stages.
But, despite the Premier League side holding a man advantage for the final five minutes, the only chance came via a decent Townsend drive that was tipped over by Lopez leaving Spurs to settle for the only loss of their pre-season schedule - Villas-Boas' first since taking over from Harry Redknapp.
Though 2-0 perhaps flattered Valencia, both goals were superbly taken and highlighted the lack of cutting edge Tottenham had in attack. If further evidence was needed that Villas-Boas needs to boost his striking options, it was seen in the Mestalla.
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match