Celtic continued their impressive run of pre-season form, beating Spurs 2-0 to win the inaugural Wembley Cup.
It was an impressive performance from a makeshift Celtic side, one missing several key, experienced players, but that highlighted the qualities of several of the young players fighting for a place in the team.
The goals were scored by Chris Killen and Georgios Samaras, with the win delivering the second piece of silverware of the pre-season, with the Wembley Cup now in the trophy cabinet alongside the Translink Cup that was won in Brisbane.
Tony Mowbray’s Bhoys had started the competition in a blaze of goals, hammering Egyptian giants, Al Ahly, 5-0 on Friday, while Barcelona drew 1-1 with Spurs.
The Catalan side then kicked off the second series of matches with a 4-1 win over Al Ahly, meaning that Celtic needed a draw against the North London club to secure the trophy.
However, with Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League Qualifier against Dinamo Moscow in mind, the manager introduced some of his squad players, handing starting berths to Paul Caddis, Lukasz Zaluska, Koki Mizuno and Paddy McCourt.
Darren O’Dea led the team out as captain and there was also a place in the starting XI for new Bhoy Danny Fox, who made his debut as a substitute against Al Ahly and lined up in his preferred left-back slot.
This was actually the second consecutive pre-season that Celtic have faced Tottenham, with Gordon Strachan’s side losing 2-0 in last year’s Feyenoord Jubilee Tournament at the De Kuip Stadium in Holland.
On this occasion, this experimental side fared far better against Spurs’ multi-million pound acquisitions, making the most of their opportunities in front of crowd largely made up of Celtic supporters.
There were just nine minutes on the clock when Celtic raced into the lead, with Caddis delivering a beautiful ball from the right flank after ghosting past full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
The young defender had been caught by a rash and dangerous tackle by Jamie O’Hara just minutes earlier, but still had the strength and skill to race down the right flank, go by his man and lift in the perfect cross which the unmarked Killen bulleted into the top corner.
After this quick opener Spurs responded with a few chances of their own and at times the Celtic players’ unfamiliarity showed and the London club almost leveled when Marc Crosas was caught in possession in the 13th minute.
Darren Bent immediately raced through on goal, but Zaluska stood up, producing a magnificent stop to deny the striker.
Celtic did play some excellent football when in possession though and Mizuno squandered a glorious chance after Fox had nutmegged Alan Hutton to play in a ball to the near post.
But with five minutes remaining in the half, Samaras doubled Celtic’s lead with a magnificent solo strike.
Taking possession with his back to goal inside his own half, the Greek striker beat Dorian Dervite and raced forward, breaking into the box before rifling an unstoppable drive past Heurelho Gomes into the far corner of the net.
Spurs went on to make eight changes at half-time, with several of their first choice stars, including Luka Modric, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Vedran Corluka and Jermaine Defoe.
However, within two and a half minutes of kick-off McCourt almost added a third after a dazzling solo run.
Tearing down the left flank he breezed past five Spurs players and into penalty box before clipping his shot inches past the far post.
Celtic’s opponents were however initially determined to get back into the game and O’Dea, who looked strong and imposing throughout, made a wonderful double block to twice deny Spurs in front of goal, sliding in once to cut out a cross and then getting in the way of the resulting shot.
There was another great chance for Spurs with around 15 minutes remaining when John Bostock took advantage of a moment of indecision on the halfway line and broke forward, playing a ball across the face of goal which flashed past the outstretched boot of Defoe.
But for the most part Celtic looked strong, stable and largely untroubled, with Caddis, O’Dea, Willo Flood and Killen putting in excellent shifts.
The match concluded with the trophy presentation and the impressive Celtic support in the stand stayed to hail their heroes.
That’s now 10 goals scored and none conceded in four pre-season matches, only heightening Celtic’s confidence going into Wednesday’s crucial European encounter at Celtic Park.
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