Heung-Min Son

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Brazil hammer Japan; Serbia, South Korea win

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There are plenty of friendlies taking place across the globe this week as teams step up their 2018 World Cup preparations.

Five teams who have already booked their spot at the tournament in Russia next summer were in action early on Friday with Brazil, Serbia and South Korea all grabbing wins.

Below is a roundup of the games which took place, with plenty of other international friendlies to come in the next few days.


Japan 1-3 Brazil

The Seleceao were purring in Lille, France as Neymar scored from the penalty spot early on (with the help of VAR giving a decision against Southampton and Japan defender Maya Yoshida) but the PSG star then missed a second spot kick in the first half. Not to worry as Marcelo smashed home to make it 2-0 and and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus finished off a flowing team move to make it 3-0 before half time. Japan pulled a goal back in the second half through Tomoaki Makino but Brazil dominated as they now face England at Wembley next Tuesday. Japan face Belgium in Brugge on Tuesday.

South Korea 2-1 Colombia

Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son scored twice for South Korea as they beat much-fancied Colombia in Suwon. Cristian Zapata pulled a goal back for a strong Los Cafeteros side who had James Rodriguez and Davinson Sanchez in the starting lineup, plus Carlos Bacca and Edwin Cardona jumped off the bench with Juan Cuadrado an unused sub. Colombia travel to Chongqing to face China on Tuesday.

China 0-2 Serbia

Torino’s Adem Ljajic opened the scoring for managerless Serbia in Guangzhou and Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 2-0 in the second half. Serbia play against South Korea in Ulsan on Tuesday. Good preparations for Serbia ahead of their first appearance at a World Cup since 2010.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Crystal Palace: Son leads ailing Spurs

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  • Gazzaniga the star deputy
  • Son scores winner
  • Zaha misses golden chance
  • Kane wobbled, Dele out

Heung-Min Son‘s second half goal was enough to push injury-hit Tottenham Hotspur past Crystal Palace 1-0 at Wembley Stadium early Sunday.

Spurs were without Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli, and Toby Alderweireld for the match but got a star turn from backup keeper Paulo Gazzaniga to aid the effort.

Tottenham remains third, level on points with second place Manchester United, while Palace remains in 20th with four points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Palace could’ve been ahead inside of three minutes, but Mamadou Sakho instinctively took some mustard off his header attempt against a charging Paulo Gazzaniga.

Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, and Kieran Trippier were all missing with injury, so Harry Kane‘s limping off in the 23rd minute was a scare. Fortunately, he returned to the pitch moments later in a bid to work it out.

Serge Aurier swept a 31st minute cross over the Palace defense to a free Danny Rose, who missed badly.

Gazzaniga made a nice save on Scott Dann‘s strong header off a 36th minute corner.

Heung-min Son and Harry Winks had opportunities before halftime, but failed to deliver a goal.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Andros Townsend forced Gazzaniga into a quality save after an Aurier giveaway just after the break.

And the best chance, cued up again by Aurier, was for Zaha, who dribbled around Gazzaniga but dragged a jumping shot wide of the yawning cage.

Moments later, Gazzaniga palmed away a back post header from Luka Milivojevic.

Spurs took advantage of the let-off, with Son scoring a lovely goal after Danny Rose’s effort was blocked by Palace. Son often slips under the radar, but is a special talent.

Son then missed a break in the 82nd minute, fooling Julian Speroni but hitting his shot off the outside of the net.

Three things we learned from Man United v. Tottenham

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Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Saturday as Jose Mourinho’s men silenced plenty of their critics.

[ RECAP: United beat Spurs 1-0 ]

Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs missed Harry Kane horribly but still had chances to win the game in the rain in Manchester.

Here’s what we learned from a tight, tense encounter at Old Trafford.


LUKAKU PUTS BIG GAME RECORD BEHIND HIM

Romelu Lukaku has now scored just 15 goals in 59 appearances against the so-called “big six” in the Premier League and he was well-shackled by Spurs defense on Saturday, but he did make a big difference. In the end.

There were moans and groans around Old Trafford on a few occasions where Lukaku failed to control the ball or made the wrong run or didn’t envisage a ball from his teammates. There were also a few boos when Marcus Rashford was taken off in the second half as he looked much more likely to hurt Tottenham and get on the scoresheet than his strike partner as Mourinho went with two up top.

It took until the 73rd minute for Lukaku to get a real sight of goal as he beared down on Jan Verongthen and drilled a shot across goal which Hugo Lloris palmed away. He then went even closer late on as he sent Jesse Lingard‘s cross against the foot of the post with a towering header.

Finally, Lukaku had woken up. His flicked header to Martial for the game-winner proved he stuck with it despite not getting any luck in front of goal and for the second-game running in the PL he had an assist.

We make a lot about Lukaku’s lack of goals in the big games but remember, he played for Everton and West Brom in the PL for most of his appearances against the big boys. He will get more chances to score now he’s at United but he’s showing that he can deliver in key moments even if he’s not hitting the back of the net.


KANE’S ABSENCE BLUNTS SPURS

Harry Kane is the hottest striker on the planet right now, so of course Tottenham missed him.

Kane’s hamstring strain kept him out of the game at Old Trafford and the Premier League’s leading scorer doesn’t only offer goals but also a figurehead to Spurs’ attack.

After a sluggish start Spurs recovered well in the first half with Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli making runs in-behind but so often the ball was not sticking up top and that forced Mauricio Pochettino to bring on Fernando Llorente in the second half.

Kane may be fit enough to play against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday and when he returns Tottenham’s attack will look totally different. Spurs coped well without their talisman for vast swathes of their defeat at United with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen both having one big chance.

If Kane would’ve been fit enough to play, you have to wonder how different this game would’ve been as his presence on the pitch would surely have given Tottenham more belief that they could win the game.


3-5-2 WORKED FOR UNITED

During preseason I caught up with Man United’s Dutch defender Daley Blind and he told me that Mourinho had been working on the 3-5-2 formation a lot at their training camp in Los Angeles.

All of that work was for a moment like this.

With no Kane in the lineup for Spurs, Mourinho wanted to get on top of Heung-min Son and Dele Alli whenever he could and stop Spurs from playing out of the back with Lukaku and Rashford up top. It worked very well early on, but then Spurs figured it out and had a little more composure on the ball and United were outnumbered in midfield.

In the second half Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera were pressing high and snapping into tackles and stopped Tottenham from dictating the tempo.

Mourinho’s men may not play with this formation each and every week but with solid veterans Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young at full back, United looked like a solid outfit and Lingard and Martial made a huge difference off the bench.

Harry Kane out injured for Tottenham’s trip to Man United

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Newsflash: Harry Kane is human.

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Kane, 24, will miss Tottenham Hotspur’s huge Premier League clash at Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with a hamstring injury.

Tottenham confirmed that Kane “underwent assessment and investigation earlier this week, which confirmed a minor strain to the left hamstring.”

In other words, Kane is out of the massive clash at Old Trafford between two title contenders.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino spoke to the media on Friday about Kane’s injury and added that it is a minor problem and he hopes Kane will be fit to face Real Madrid next Wednesday.

“The doctor and medical staff made the decision to not take the risk. There is no sense in taking that risk and making the problem bigger,” Pochettino said.

Kane suffered the injury towards the end of Spurs’ 4-1 win against Liverpool at Wembley last weekend as he was subbed out in the second half with his manager Pochettino brushing off any injury concerns, but in midweek Kane did not feature in Spurs’ 18-man squad for their League Cup defeat to West Ham.

The Spurs star is the form striker in world soccer right now, scoring eight goals in the Premier League this season and 13 in 12 games in all competitions for Spurs this season. Kane also has four goals in four games for England this season, taking his tally to 17 in 16 games for club and country in 2017-18.

His absence will be a huge boost for Jose Mourinho and his banged up United defense who will now likely have to deal with veteran forward Fernando Llorente instead. United won’t underestimate Spurs at all, but Kane is integral to how they play and his link-up with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen is crucial to Spurs’ attack.

Mauricio Pochettino is most likely to start with Llorente but he could bring in Heung-Min Son to start up top after he stepped up admirably in a central role during Kane’s absence through injury last season.

We all know Spurs aren’t a “one man team” as Pep Guardiola suggested, but there’s no doubt that losing Kane is a massive blow ahead of this huge game.

Spurs collapse at home as desperate Bilic gets huge League Cup win (video)

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West Ham’s incredible fight back and Spurs massive home collapse led the Irons into the League Cup quarterfinals with a 3-2 London Derby win at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli staked Spurs to a 2-0 halftime lead, but the fond times ended soon after the break.

Andre Ayew scored twice in five minutes to tie it up, cleaning up a rebound in the 55th and finishing some fine work from Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini in the 60th, before Angelo Ogbonna headed home a winner 10 minutes later.

[ MORE: Chelsea beats Everton ]

A long run from Heung-Min Son gave the South Korean plenty of time to spot Sissoko, and the French midfielder scored easily to give Spurs a sixth minute lead.

Dele  made it 2-0 before the break with a lofted shot that took a turn off Declan Rice‘s head and looped inside the far post.

Spurs coasted into the break before it all fell apart.

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