Lloris returns as Spurs end pre-season with Audi Cup victory over AC Milan
Hugo Lloris made a welcome and timely return from injury as Tottenham ended their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win over AC Milan in the Audi Cup.
An early 25-yard strike from Nacer Chadli was followed by a well-taken finish from Tom Carroll in the second half as Spurs put their successive friendly defeats against the MLS All-Stars and Real Madrid behind them at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
The triumph means the Lilywhites start their competitive season with a bit of momentum, and they have finished third in the tournament ahead of a Milan side who failed to live up to their reputation.
But of far more importance as Mauricio Pochettino and his players focus on Saturday’s Premier League opener at Manchester United was the sight of Lloris taking his place between the sticks in the second half after a spell on the sidelines due to a fractured wrist.
Ryan Mason also got a run-out for the last 35 minutes after having his own spell in the treatment room this summer – although it is unlikely that will be enough preparation to secure him a spot in the starting line-up at the weekend.
Just 24 hours after the Audi Cup semi-final against Madrid and with less than three days to go before the trip to Old Trafford, Pochettino wisely rested a host of his senior players – including Harry Kane.
Nineteen-year-old Luke McGee started in goal while Eric Dier was deployed in midfield for the fourth game in a row. Josh Onomah and Tom Carroll were given places in the attacking midfield trio, alongside Chadli, while Erik Lamela started as the lone striker.
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Spurs started brightly, with Chadli sending a free kick just wide and Carroll finding Onomah, whose shot was deflected just wide of the far post.
The lively Chadli then scored a stunning opener, coming infield from the right side and bending a 25-yard left-footed strike around Christian Abbiati.
The Belgian then nearly freed Onomah, who was just unable to reach the ball in the box while wrongly being flagged offside.
Milan threatened as Alsesandro Matri latched onto a ball forward, chipped the ball over Kieran Trippier and attempted to lob McGee, but his effort dropped over the crossbar.
It was a more entertaining and open game than Tottenham’s previous outing against Madrid, and Lamela swung and missed at a tricky chance as the ball dropped over his shoulder, while Chadli raced down the right and picked out Onomah, who tried to chest the ball down near the penalty spot but could not control it as the chance went begging.
Milan created a good opening as Ignazio Abate chipped the ball in to Matri, who tried to direct a first-time half-volley across McGee, but his effort was too close to the young keeper, who saved and held onto the ball.
Dier looked out of place in midfield again, distributing the ball well enough when given time and space but losing it a couple of times when rushed in tight areas. Having already sent a long-range effort at McGee, Suso robbed Dier in Spurs’ half and tried his luck again, but was unable to trouble the keeper.
Instead Tottenham went close to a second goal just after the half-hour mark when a spell of controlled possession and a good passing move ended with Lamela running at the defence and playing in Carroll, whose low shot towards the bottom right corner forced Abbiati to get down and tip the ball around the post.
Jan Vertonghen went off at the break with Saturday’s trip to Manchester in mind, being replaced by Kevin Wimmer – and 10 minutes later Lloris and Mason came off the bench, along with Harry Winks.
Winks was quickly involved, threading a pass through to Lamela in the box, and it took a last-ditch tackle to deny the Argentine as his shot was deflected over. Winks also showed quick feet and a turn of pace to launch a counter-attack from the edge of his own box, but the move was halted by a foul on Lamela.
Mason was playing in the No10 role in front of Winks and Bentaleb, and had two sights of goal, sending a low shot at Milan’s substitute goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma before whipping a first-time effort over the bar, sandwiching a header from Carlos Bacca which flew just over at the other end.
Bentaleb was eventually withdraw, having played for almost 70 minutes in addition to his 45-minute outing in the second half against Madrid the previous day, with Dele Alli taking his place – and Spurs promptly doubled their lead.
Tottenham won a corner on the right-hand side and played the ball back to Trippier, who spotted Carroll in a pocket of space inside the box. The through ball was perfect and Carroll instantly whipped a first-time left-footed shot around Donnarumma, in off the post.
Lamela was also taken off after playing for 83 minutes, raising question marks over whether he will be involved at Old Trafford. He was replaced by Mousa Dembele, who had played on the right flank in the previous two friendlies and may challenge for the position.
Spurs had some defending to do late on as Federico Fazio cleared a header off the line and Lloris fended off a powerful strike from Rodrigo Ely – but Pochettino’s side kept the Italians out until the end to emerge with a welcome clean sheet.
Tottenham: McGee (Lloris 54), Trippier, Fazio, Vertonghen (Wimmer 45), Davies, Dier (Mason 54), Bentaleb (Alli 69), Onomah, Carroll, Chadli (Winks 54), Lamela (Dembele 83)
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs