Érik Lamela gave an early indication that he is ready to put his difficult first season at Tottenham behind him with two goals in a 3-2 win over Toronto FC. The Argentinian gave Mauricio Pochettino’s men a 2-0 half-time lead as they continued their North American tour against the Major League Soccer side on Wednesday. Toronto, managed by former Spurs defender Ryan Nelsen, bounced back after the break, but Andros Townsend struck a winner four minutes from time.
It was Lamela’s performance that caught the eye, though. Having become the club’s record signing last summer, the former Roma star struggled to settle and endured a season blighted by injuries, restricting him to just three starts in the Premier League. The 22-year-old started well at BMO Field and opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a low left-footed shot following a deft dummy from Aaron Lennon.
Recent signing from Swansea City, Ben Davies, started at left-back, but it was Lamela again in the spotlight five minutes before the break. This time he took a neat pass from Roberto Soldado and hammered home with his left foot.
Both sides made plenty of changes at half-time, including Jermain Defoe exiting the scene for Toronto, having failed to find the net against his former club. His teammates did get back into the game in his absence, however. Andrew Wiedman pulled one back in the 65th minute after a fine breakaway, and eight minutes later a clever touch from the forward got Jordan Hamilton in to equalize. The fight back was to ultimately count for nothing with substitute Andros Townsend curling a fine effort into the top corner.
“I’m very pleased because we had a very good performance and another 90 minutes to improve and learn our new style,” Pochettino, who replaced Tim Sherwood this summer, said after the match, according to Tottenham’s official website.
“We work hard in the training sessions and that’s what we need to show in the games. The result isn’t the most important thing, but how the squad improves.”
A host of Premier League sides are warming up for the new season in North America, including Manchester City, which had a more comfortable win over Sporting Kansas City. The Premier League holders, featuring new signings Fernando and Willy Caballero, beat the MLS champions 4-1.
City got off to a spectacular start when Bruno Zuculini fired a fine shot into the net from the edge of the box in just the third minute. After Sporting had a goal ruled out for offside, CJ Sapong did get the hosts level after being found behind the City defense and finishing past Caballero on the half-hour mark.
Parity was only to last for 15 minutes before big defender Dedryck Boayata powered home a Jesus Navas free-kick right before the break. It was all one way traffic in the second half after Sporting made a number of changes at the interval. Aleksandar Kolarov converted a penalty in the 72nd minute after Scott Sinclair was brought down in the box. Nigerian 17-year-old Kelechi Icheanacho rounded out the scoring with two minutes remaining with a smart finish into the corner from the edge of the area after more good work from Navas. Afterward Pellegrini praised the new players who made their mark.
"Zuculini is a young player who has come from Argentina and Fernando has more experience in Europe with Porto,” he explained, reports the Manchester Evening News. “Both of them had very good performances.
"Finally, Kelechi is just 17 years old and he’s a very important player for us in the future. He demonstrated today what he can do in the future. It depends on the way he takes this profession, but I think he’s a good talent."