Redknapp fuels optimism though Tottenham fade away

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Lazio

Bill Pierce
Friday 10 January 2014 03:17
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Glenn Hoddle was left with a great deal to ponder as the new season approaches after yesterday's draw with Lazio. Jamie Redknapp won over the Tottenham faithful with a fine goal and an industrious display on his home debut, but, from two goals ahead in the first 20 minutes, Spurs ran out of steam and ideas in their final warm-up before the Premiership kick-off.

The former England midfielder Redknapp, who hopes his free transfer to White Hart Lane from Liverpool at the age of 29 will revive a career inhibited by a series of injuries, certainly looked the part before an early exit in the 77th minute.

When he measured a superb volley in the 19th minute to put Spurs two up after Dean Richards had struck with just 74 seconds on the clock, it looked like being another embarrassing afternoon for star-studded Serie A side Lazio.

But Richards' costly error allowed the Rome team an unexpected route back into the match when striker Claudio Lopez scored just before the half hour. An impressive second half revival from Roberto Mancini's team earned them parity via Hernan Crespo's nimble header on the hour mark.

The match – Tottenham's 10th pre-season test – kicked off five minutes late but Spurs soon grabbed the lead when Richards was allowed all the space he needed in the Lazio area to dive and head in Sergei Rebrov's cross.

Spurs had almost gone ahead even earlier when a menacing run by their new Slovenian player Milenko Acimovic only just broke down in the six-yard box.

A sluggish Lazio side, who fielded illustrious names such as Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and an all-Argentinian front line pairing of Hernan Crespo and Claudio Lopez, had several other escapes before Spurs deservedly doubled their advantage in the 19th minute with a cracking volley by Redknapp. He followed up to score in spectacular style after a shot from Acimovic was hacked away.

Although Spurs continued to dominate – much to the fury of Mancini, who paced the touchline cursing his side having seen them concede three goals in the first 20 minutes of their 3-2 defeat at Blackburn on Friday – the visitors pulled one back 10 minutes later.

An unconvincing header by Richards allowed Cesar Rodriguez to set up Lopez who comfortably beat Kasey Keller from 10 yards.

Even though Keller made several fine saves to delay Lazio's fightback after the break, he could do little about the glancing header by Crespo. The striker, who once cost Lazio a then world-record fee of £32m, converted Lopez's run and cross in the 58th minute to bring the Italian side level.

Redknapp twice went close from distance and substitute Steffen Iversen bungled a glorious opportunity to regain the lead for Tottenham when he ballooned over in the 72nd minute after a long ball confounded the Lazio defence.

But still without the injured trio of Gus Poyet, Darren Anderton and Christian Ziege, Glenn Hoddle's team were very much second best for long spells after the break against a Lazio side who replaced the former Manchester United defender Stam with their Portuguese veteran Fernando Couto at half-time and also brought on the talented Italian international striker Simone Inzaghi.

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