Sporting Lisbon draws 2-2 with Tottenham
Sporting Lisbon came to Red Bull Arena with the sole purpose of winning Barclay's New York Challenge.
Thanks to a goal by Jaime Valdes in the 48th minute of its 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday, Sporting is on the verge of attaining that goal.
The draw gave the teams eight points each over their two games, but Sporting leads because it allowed one fewer goal than Tottenham. Sporting was awaiting the outcome of the Red Bulls-Manchester City game that followed. The third-place Red Bulls went into that contest with just one point, needing a five-goal winning margin to overtake Sporting.
''It was very good to be in a position to win this trophy,'' said Sporting's Nuno Coelho. ''That was the main objective of our coming to America.''
For Sporting, the game marked the end of its preseason before playing Portugal's Liga Sagres on Thursday.
Tottenham is also nearing the end of its preseason, with only four European friendlies left to play.
''We're in good shape,'' said Spurs coach Harry Redknapp, whose team finished fourth in the Premier League last season. ''There's still some work to be done. We need to improve if we're going to improve on last year, and this is the time to do it.''
The teams hardly treated the game as a preseason contest. Despite searing heat, they pressured each other all other the field.
Valdes' goal came when he collected the ball in the penalty area and knocked it just inside the right post. Tottenham's second-half substitute, Jonathan Obika, equalized when he received a pass outside the box, beat a defender, and blasted the ball in off goalkeeper Rui Patricio's outstretched hands.
The teams played an energetic first half, too, each having numerous chances. Tottenham scored first in the 24th minute after captain Robbie Keane took a pass from midfielder Niko Kranjcar about 40 yards out, dribbled into the box, and knocked the ball past goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
Sporting came back seconds later, though, when Diogo Salomao chipped to midfielder Matias, who hit a low header past goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to level in the 25th minute.
For Valdes, scoring the decisive goal proved a nice way to introduce himself to the Sporting fans hoping to improve on last year's fourth-place finish. He played last season for Atalanta in the Serie A.
''I was happy to score my first goal with Sporting,'' Valdes said. ''Now we're prepared to play our serious games.''
Kranjcar said just facing Sporting and the Red Bulls was beneficial for Spurs.
''When you run in this heat, it's good for you,'' Kranjcar said. ''You get your fitness level as high as possible. But it was a great experience, too. We had a great time, and we'll be well-prepared for our schedule.''