Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado each found the back of the net as Tottenham Hotspur completed their pre-season programme with a 2-1 win over Schalke 04 on Saturday at White Hart Lane.
Kevin-Prince Boateng’s late strike for the guests made things interesting, but at the final whistle the Bundesliga side simply hadn’t done enough to earn a split result and will go into their domestic season on the back of a third successive defeat.
Spurs, who handed a debut to 20-year-old defender Eric Dier, went on the front foot from the opening kick-off and thought they had taken the lead inside four minutes when Adebayor beat Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann, only to see the linesman’s offside flag rightfully raised to disallow the goal.
Then it was Nabil Bentaleb looking to spring the Togolese striker with an arcing ball over the defense, although on this occasion his attempt rolled harmlessly into the waiting arms of Fahrmann.
Spurs would connect on an intricate piece of interplay a bit later, but not just yet.
In the 17th minute Danny Rose found Lewis Holtby with a neat backheel, but Felipe Santana managed to head away the danger before Spurs regrouped and looked to spring Adebayor yet again just two minutes later.
Finally, just before the half-hour mark, the hosts managed to string together the impressive bit of buildup that gave them a much-deserved lead.
Less than three minutes after Christian Eriksen and Holtby had combined to force a instinctive block from Fahrmann, the two connected once again—via Erik Lamela—and picked out Adebayor, who converted at the far post.
Schalke, however, replied straight away with their best chance of the encounter—Tranquillo Barnetta finding Roman Neustadter with a free kick that the latter managed to head wide of the target.
The guests only caused one or two more problems before the break, and with 45 minutes in the books Spurs went back down the tunnel with a 1-0 lead.
Predictably, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino made a handful of half-time substitutions, introducing Ben Davies, Andros Townsend, Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado to start the second half. (Sandro, Tom Carroll, Zeki Fryers and Cristian Ceballos would also feature for the hosts after the restart.)
Schalke boss Jens Keller, meanwhile, brought on only Marco Hoger and Christian Fuchs to begin the second half, although he would later call on Christian Clemens, Marcel Sobottka and Donis Avdijaj.
Of the substitutions it was Townsend who made the most immediate impact—testing Fahrmann with a first-time effort following an Eriksen free kick in the 56th minute.
Then, only 10 minutes later, the England international helped set up Spurs’ second goal when his drilled, left-footed shot was parried by Fahrmann into the path of the unsuspecting Soldado, whose immediate reaction was to sweep the ball into the back of the net.
Schalke, who generally struggled to create chances in the attacking third, had a rare opportunity to pull one back in the 71st minute when Max Meyer pulled his shot wide from in close, and despite their overall poor performance they managed to make things interesting for the final 10 minutes following Boateng’s consolation marker from a Dennis Aogo cross.
Tottenham will next face West Ham in the Premier League, while Schalke will open their Bundesliga campaign against Hanover.
Lewis Holtby, Tottenham Hotspur: A
Lewis Holtby didn’t exactly settle into English football after a 2013 move from Schalke. In fact, he spent the latter half of last season on the bench at relegation-destined Fulham. But on Saturday the 23-year-old showed heart and determination from box to box—a performance no doubt enhanced by a very familiar opponent.
Tottenham Hotspur Overall: B+
The early returns have been positive for Pochettino’s Spurs, who completed an impressive pre-season schedule with Saturday’s win. Crucially, Erik Lamela seems to be rediscovering his form, and it’s only a good thing if Adebayor enters the season in a purple patch.
Max Meyer, Schalke 04: B-
There were few bright spots for Schalke on Saturday, although Max Meyer created one or two problems in the attacking third. The 18-year-old combined nicely at times with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, and when he played a wasted, long pass to no one shortly after the restart it was more a shortcoming of his teammates’ positioning than his own ingenuity.
Schalke Overall: C-
Schalke created next to nothing at White Hart Lane, and their midfield was shredded with relative ease. Reprising their third-place finish from last season could prove a tall order.