This morning in Hong Kong, Tottenham and Sunderland squared off amid torrential downpours in South China, as Paolo Di Canio’s side beat Spurs 3-1.
Goals from Cabral, Wes Brown and David Moberg Karlsson handed Sunderland the comeback victory, after Gylfi Sigurdsson had opened the scoring for Spurs.
Their friendly in the Barclays Asia Trophy semifinal was in doubt, but after a delay the pitch was ready for an 80 minute game between the Premier League clubs, and the Black Cats didn’t disappoint.
For fans of the U.S. national there was plenty of interest in this one, as red-hot forward Jozy Altidore started for Sunderland while Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel put in a shift for Spurs.
Surprisingly, Sunderland ran out comfortable winners but it could have been even more convincing if Altidore had brought his shooting boots with him.
The 23-year-old USMNT striker had three glorious opportunities to score, but countryman Friedel thwarted him superbly towards the end of the game as the contest opened up. But despite missed chances, included a fresh air shot from three yards out, Altidore looked at home with his new teammates and made several good runs off the last defender that gave Tottenham plenty of problems. But he did slot in Cabral for Sunderland’s opener.
Nevertheless, Di Canio would have been pleased with Altidore and several of his new signings as they swept aside a Spurs team that was missing Gareth Bale amid increased transfer speculation.
Dempsey put in a solid performance on a heavy pitch in Hong Kong, and was substituted after 70 minutes. But one of the moments of the match came from veteran goalkeeper Friedel who made a stunning reflex save in the 73rd minute to deny Connor Wickham.
The old dog, 42 years young, still has some life left in him, it seems.
So how much can we read into these preseason friendlies? It is difficult. Sunderland certainly looked fitter and Di Canio has been working his roster tirelessly over the summer months. But you never know how both teams have structured their training around this match, as Spurs may have had a heavy session the day before.
Regardless, a welcome win for Altidore and Sunderland who’ve made the final and will play the winner of Manchester City and South China in the four-team tournament.
As for Altidore, maybe he’s saving up all his goals for the World Cup qualifiers later this year?