Spurs hold experimental Barça
European champions Barcelona were denied a winning start to their pre-season campaign as Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jake Livermore's late goal earned a 1-1 draw in the Wembley Cup on Friday.
Pep Guardiola's team were back in action for the first time since the end of their treble-winning campaign, but they were frustrated by the dramatic intervention of a teenager who has yet to make his competitive Spurs debut. Livermore, who suffered a serious leg injury while on loan at Crewe last season, came on in the 80th minute of the pre-season friendly at England's national stadium and made an immediate impact as he headed home three minutes later to cancel out Bojan Krkic's first half strike.
Only Yaya Toure survived from Barcelona team that started against Manchester United in May's UEFA Champions League final as Guardiola kept the likes of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Xavi and Andres Iniesta on the sidelines. Given the desperate nature of Tottenham's injury crisis, Harry Redknapp might well have breathed a sigh of relief when he saw so many unfamiliar names in Barcelona's squad.
The Spurs manager is currently without Jonathan Woodgate, Ledley King and Michael Dawson and was forced to field a makeshift defence in the absence of his three senior centre-backs. But at a club like Barcelona even the understudies are good enough to shine when given their chance and they were the better team for long periods.
Inter Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has agreed personal terms ahead of his move to Barcelona in exchange for Samuel Eto'o, would have relished the swift, incisive nature of his new team's opening goal in the 32nd minute. Toure made a powerful run through midfield and nudged a pass towards Bojan, whose low shot flashed past Carlo Cudicini into the bottom corner. Barca had the ball in the net again moments later but Pedro Rodriguez's cool finish was ruled out for offside.
Spurs hit back
After a lacklustre start, Spurs briefly sparked into life when Luka Modric hit the crossbar before Benoit Assou-Ekotto forced Albert Jorquera to tip over. Only a fine save from Cudicini from Victor Sanchez's blistering drive on the stroke prevented Barca increasing their lead.
With Barca only a week into their pre-season preparations, Guardiola changed his entire team at half-time. Redknapp sent on England Under-21 defender Kyle Naughton, a recent signing from Sheffield United, for his debut in place of Alan Hutton, the former Rangers defender who had been mercilessly jeered by Celtic supporters still in the crowd after their victory over Al Alhy earlier.
Spurs began to find their rhythm after the break. Tom Huddlestone went close with a deflected effort and Modric forced Jose Pinto into a close-range stop. They snatched an equaliser in the 83rd minute when Assou-Ekotto floated in a deep cross and Livermore timed his run perfectly to loop a header over Pinto.