Tottenham produced a fine second-half comeback to defeat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 and claim the Barclays New York Cup at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls took a surprise early lead in this friendly in New Jersey through Kenny Cooper's penalty, but failed to hold out as goals from Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson proved decisive for the English side.
Not only were the Red Bulls welcoming one of the giants from the Premier League, but they were also hailing their new signing Tim Cahill. The Australian was making his debut after becoming the club's latest high-profile recruit, joining from Everton.
It was the new arrival who made an immediate impact at his new home. The 32-year-old made a trademark run from deep as he chested down a good lofted ball forward from Dax McCarty, but before he could pull the trigger Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen bundled him down from behind. The referee having no choice but to award the spot kick.
Red Bulls striker Cooper stepped up and calmly sent Heurelho Gomes the wrong way to give the home side a surprise early lead.
The goal soon had new coach Andre Villas-Boas pensively stalking the edge of his technical area. And with good reason too.
While Tottenham were having the better of possession, there was little threat on Bill Gaudette in New York's goal. The lack of strikers in Spurs' squad only too apparent as Gareth Bale struggled in a central role. Following the match Villas-Boas confirmed that he was "looking to strengthen" in the striking department, as negotiations for last season's loan signing Emmanuel Adebayor have dragged on.
The North London side's first effort of menace came from a free-kick. Gareth Bale produced a well-struck shot from 25 yards out, but while it got the right trajectory was too close to Gaudette who tipped the ball smartly over the top.
With Spurs unable to make any real inroads of their own in the opening period, the Red Bulls almost contributed to their own downfall. Defender Wilman Conde played a slack square ball that Tom Huddlestone did well to intercept and play a give-and-go with Bale before firing a strong left-footed drive from the edge of the box that Gaudette did well to turn around the post.
Given his recent arrival, there was little surprise that Cahill only lasted 45 minutes. The goal-scoring midfielder made his mark, though: winning the penalty and getting involved in a couple of skirmishes that suggested some lingering hostilities from his Premier League days. Afterward Red Bulls coach Hans Backe spoke of his delight at seeing Cahill in action for his side for the first time.
"It’s a huge, huge signing for us," he said. "Just picking the penalty the way he did, organizing the midfield, defending wide in that first half...phenomenal."
It was the half-time substitutions that would prove crucial. The Red Bulls lost the solidity in the midfield provided by Cahill and more pertinently the former Tottenham man Teemu Tainio.
Conversely, Tottenham benefited from their changes as Harry Kane came on to play up front with Bale moving to his favored position on the left.
Bale showed just why he is so dangerous from the left soon after the break. The Wales international teased the Red Bull defense before delivering a ball that eventually found its way through to Aaron Lennon at the back post whose left-footed strike brought a fine reaction save from Gaudette.
Ironically it was a trademark center-forward's goal that Bale produced to bring Tottenham level on the hour mark. Sigurdsson whipped in an out-swinging corner from the right and Bale did well to get up above McCarty and head home form eight yards.
The supplier turned goal scorer just minutes later as Sigurdsson produced a fine strike. The Icelandic midfielder took advantage of a parting in the Red Bull defense before cutting inside Markus Holgersson and curling a right-footed effort perfectly into the far corner.
The tide had turned dramatically in Tottenham's favor and they were soon desperately close to netting a third. Another corner from the right this time saw captain Michael Dawson stick out a leg and send the ball flying onto the cross bar and away.
The Red Bulls managed to stop the flow of chances, but failed to create any of their own as the second-half saw a raft of changes for both sides. Kane came closest to adding to the scoring, but could only poke an effort straight at Gaudette when well-place in the area.
The majority of the close to 22,000 in attendance were left disappointed as the home side's challenge faded. But the brief cameo from Cahill suggested that he has the ability to be a difference maker as the Red Bulls aim for the MLS title this season.
For Tottenham, their pre-season quest for fitness continues while Villas-Boas will knows that further firepower is needed before the they begin their Premier League campaign at Newcastle on August 18.