Spurs thrill as Son scorches Kitchee in Hong Kong friendly
South Korean on fire as Premier League runners-up display gulf in class against Hong Kong champions
After their most successful league campaign in 54 years in the top flight, Tottenham Hotspur were in the mood to thrill a vocal Hong Kong Stadium crowd in their end-of-season exhibition tie against Hong Kong champions Kitchee on Friday night with South Korean sensation Son Heung-min in a particularly flamboyant mood as they ran out 4-1 winners.
He and the unlikely figure of Vincent Janssen excelled with both netting against a creative but ultimately outgunned Kitchee outfit.
The only disappointment for the 27,568 So Kon Po crowd was that, after not training on Thursday – having felt the effects of a bout of flu – they were forced to wait 75 minutes to grab a glimpse of 35-goal man Harry Kane.
But it was Netherlands international Janssen, who has struggled to make an impression in his first season at Spurs, who gave the Kitchee defenders a masterclass in top-level forward play in Kane’s absence.
A constant nuisance with his powerful running, the 22-year-old made the most of possibly a final shot at convincing manager Mauricio Pochettino that he’s worth persisting with as Tottenham launch another assault on the Premier League title next term.
After a well-observed minute’s silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing, the match got going at a frenetic pace and the tourists were immediately on the front foot with an early effort from Janssen going begging.
Kitchee were far from overawed, however, and launched their own attack when a cute cut-back from Fernando Recio found Matthew Lam with only the keeper to beat, the Kitchee man seeing his effort tipped wide.
The resulting corner saw the first clear-cut opportunity of the night when Jose Goncalves’ towering header was cleared off the line by Janssen.
Kitchee manager Chu Chi-kwong said he was pleasantly surprised by his team’s attacking performance.
“I was expecting a difficult game against Tottenham Hotspur. Their attacking is great, but even though we trailed, we kept disciplined and created some chances for ourselves,” he said.
“I expected Spurs to pin us back more but we were able to attack a lot.”
It was Son, so instrumental in Spurs’ title charge this season, who eventually broke the deadlock, finessing a fine curling effort beyond the outstretched arms of Kitchee stopper Wang Zhenpeng from outside the area on 17 minutes.
One soon became two as Spurs took a grip on the match. Janssen prodded in from three yards after fine work on the left by the impressive Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.
Kitchee’s best chance of the first half fell to star forward Sandro, who endured a difficult night in front of goal. A back-heel from Jared Lum set up the big Brazilian whose curled effort blazed just wide.
Kitchee made a purposeful start to the second half as Pochettino shuffled his pack introducing England stars Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier. But it was Son and Janssen who continued to combine well and looked increasingly like grabbing the next goal.
Substitute goalie Michel Vorm had been on the pitch a matter of seconds before he was forced to repel an excellent Kitchee chance when the luckless Sandro found himself in with just the keeper to beat but only managed to rap the ball at the Dutchman.
Premier League golden boot winner Kane was finally unleashed on 75 minutes replacing the majestic Son to the loudest cheers of the night. He needed just eight minutes to trouble the scorers.
Kane bagged the third of the night with a simple finish to a move he started himself. Picking up the ball midway inside the Kitchee half with Spurs breaking three-on-three, the England man found the charging run of Trippier on the right with a terrific ball. The full back then squared a perfect cross along the six-yard box for Kane to knock in his 36th and final goal of a stellar campaign.
Kitchee were finally rewarded for their efforts in the dying stages when Lucas Silva prodded home from three yards after Vorm flapped at a high ball into the area that spilled to the Brazilian.
Spurs cancelled the effort out almost immediately as substitute Kazaiah Sterling steered an effort through the legs of the onrushing Wang to complete the scoring.
Afterwards, Spurs boss Pochettino reflected on a successful trip east and said preparations would soon be underway for next season.
“I am happy. It was a fantastic time to share with our fans in Hong Kong. We wanted to say thanks for their support and the warm welcome. It was difficult to play against a good team. We enjoyed the game a lot. Tomorrow when we head to London, we will start looking ahead to next season.”