spurs beat celtic in tournament opener

DAVID FRIEL in Holland
GOALS in either half from Darren Bent and David Bentley gave Spurs a 2-0 victory over Celtic in the opening match of the Feyenoord Tournament.

The England striker pounced in 25 minutes to fire the Premiership side ahead in an even first period. Debutant Bentley rounded off the scoring 10 minutes from time.

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Gordon Strachan’s men gave a decent account of themselves for long spells of the match, but were punished by the clinical finishing of Spurs, who looked impressive over the 90 minutes.

The compact De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam was the venue for the first match of this prestigious tournament held to mark the centenary celebrations of the Dutch giants. The hosts and Borussia Dortmund are also involved in the four-team mini-league.

An annual event, Celtic have competed in the competition twice before, lifting the trophy in 1981. The Hoops returned a year later and although they failed to defend their crown, losing in the final to Feyenoord, Tommy Burns was named Player of the Tournament.

Celtic and Spurs share a rich history. Traditionally, both sides are known for their attractive football and there have been some memorable meetings between the clubs, not least the 1967 Hampden friendly that finished 3-3.

This time, it wasn’t a six-goal thriller, but Celtic’s fourth Battle of Britain of this pre-season programme still provided a fair bit of entertainment for the travelling supporters. Unfortunately, it was the English side who came out on top in this clash.

Gordon Strachan named a strong starti ng line-up for the match against Juande Ramos’ Premiership superstars, with Scott McDonald and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink renewing their strike partnership. Shunsuke Nakamura again missed out through injury.

Spurs had the first chance of the match in three minutes. Bent won possession on the right side of the box and picked out Jermaine Jenas in space. The midfielder’s header didn’t have enough power to trouble Artur Boruc.

Celtic soon settled and Aiden McGeady was given the ball in an advanced area on the left flank and attacked Spurs full-back Didier Zokora. The winger then sent a chip to the back post, where Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink was denied by a Jonathan Woodgate clearance.

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The Dutch striker’s presence was causing problems for Spurs and he started the move that almost ended with another opening for Celtic at the back post. Spurs had to defend well and did.

McGeady was next to have a go in 22 minutes. Scott McDonald raced away on the right wing and cut the ball back to the winger. He teased Zokora and then curled a shot wide of the upright, with the aid of a deflection.

The SPL champions were looking composed yet disaster struck in 25 minutes when Spurs raced ahead. Paul Hartley, in possession at the halfway line, attempted to play the ball back to Boruc, but Bent had read the danger.

He was on to the ball in a flash and took it past Boruc with his first touch and then lashed his shot into the net from a tight angle to make it 1-0.

Celtic had to regroup and McGeady was running at Zokora at every opportunity. Clear-cut chances were hard to come by though, with Spurs well drilled at the back.

Boruc saved from Bent in the closing stages of the first half as Spurs chased a second. The English side then used the half-time break to bring £17 million man David Bentley on. Celtic made just one change, with Darren O’Dea replacing Stephen McManus.

Bent again tested Boruc as the second period began with much of the game being played in the midfield area. Paul Caddis, Georgios Samaras and Lee Naylor were then introduced just after the hour mark.

McDonald guided a Caddis cross wide as Celtic searched for a way back into the match. Spurs were always dangerous though and substitute Gareth Bale almost profited from some impressive wing play.

The Welsh teenager had more success in 80 minutes as he set up Bentley’s clincher – wriggling free on the left, Bale sent a cross to the back post and his team-mate tapped home from close range.


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