Harry Kane hands Spurs Walter Tull Cup but Rangers look ready for new SPFL season
Rangers have had their London calling, now Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side look ready for the clash with Livingston and the cinch Premiership next week.
Pre-season preparations ended in defeat from two powerful finishes from England captain Harry Kane, but Rangers’ showing in the midweek win over West Ham and how they competed with Antonio Conte’s star-studded Tottenham side will breed more confidence at Ibrox.
Antonio Colak is off the mark for his new club and Malik Tillman made his first appearance as van Bronckhorst prepared his squad for domestic duty and the Champions League qualifiers to come against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. Neither will have the quality in their ranks that Spurs boasted as they lifted the Walter Tull Memorial Cup with Kane’s second-half double, two moments of quality to edge a competitive friendly. Both Rangers’ home matches this week have been.
A packed Ibrox shrieked with anticipation as soon as Rabbi Matondo took possession one minute in, granted a start after his exhilarating Ibrox debut midweek against West Ham and the excitement generated by the former Stoke winger’s turn of pace appears set to be a feature of the coming season. If his inclusion whet the early appetite of the home fans, so too did the visitors’ forward line. Kane, Heung Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski kept Conte’s £50m signing Richarlison on the bench alongside Fraser Forster. The former Celtic goalkeeper made his return to Ibrox on 70 minutes, one of 10 Spurs substitutions which broke up the second-half with Rangers trailing.
Yet this was still ideal preparation, a test against strong English Premier League opposition.
“This was not a friendly, this was a real game” said Conte afterwards. Spurs were noticeably quicker than West Ham, testing Allan McGregor regularly in a competitive, open first half one week before the campaign kicks-off in West Lothian.
It will help that their summer striker signing is off the mark too. Croatian Colak tucked away the opener on 23 minutes, after James Tavernier crafted a backheel into his path from Matondo’s low cross. Chances fell at both ends, Pierre Hojbjerg slid a shot wide, Tom Lawrence next to lift a shot just over Lloris’ goal then Allan McGregor pushed another Kulusevski effort over.
The Swede was calling for a penalty on the stroke of half-time when body-checked by John Souttar. Rangers’ defensive wall faced down a Kane free-kick though VAR, if in use, may have awarded a spot-kick.
There was no denying Kane’s eventual equaliser on 50 minutes nor his second ten minutes into a bright restart from Spurs when he emphatically smashed Son's flick-on past McGregor.
Conte cycled his squad but Rangers made changes of their own with a first look at Tillman and sub Scott Wright’s shot deflected wide of substitute Forster’s goal.
The goalkeeper held a close-range header from James Sands too as the equaliser Ibrox craved wouldn’t come and Spurs claimed the Walter Tull trophy, named after the first British black outfield player and combat officer in the British Army, who signed for both sides in the early part of last century.
Hugo Lloris was presented it by another star of both sides, Jermain Defoe. His Scottish side may have relinquished the cup they held since 2004, but they have plenty of hope to carry into the new campaign.
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