MELBOURNE, July 26, (AFP): Italian champions Juventus scored two early goals and held off a strong finish to down Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the International Champions Cup in Melbourne on Tuesday. The Turin giants, who won a fifth consecutive Serie A championship this season, struck early through Paulo Dybala and Medhi Benatia to lead 2-0 at half-time.
Argentinian star Erik Lamela sparked a Spurs comeback when he came on for the second half, scoring a goal and almost grabbing another. “It was a good test against one of the toughest teams in next season’s Champions League,” said Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri. Spurs paid dearly early on for failing to clear the ball when defender Dominic Ball lost possession and Roberto Pereyra picked out fellow Argentinian Dybala.
Dybala went one-on-one with Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm and found the bottom corner in just the sixth minute. The Spurs defenders were punished again when they failed to clear a corner and Moroccan Benatia headed home eight minutes later New Juventus signing Miralem Pjanic should have made it three early in the second half when he was released by Brazilian Hernanes, but he blazed his shot over the bar. Tottenham pulled a goal back in the 67th minute when playmaker Lamela finished neatly after Victor Wanyama won possession on halfway. Lamela almost scored again but his shot was beaten down by Juve’s Brazilian goalkeeper Neto. Neto also had to make a smart save in stoppage time to prevent a Spurs equaliser through Shayon Harrison.
“It was a very good second half and in the end I’m happy. It’s not about the result, it’s about pre-season,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. “It was a great experience for us. Lots of things to learn and lots of positives. I’m very pleased with our young players.” Juventus leave Australia with a win and a defeat on penalties to Australian A-League side Melbourne Victory. The Italians’ next pre-season opponents will be South China in Hong Kong on July 30. Spurs face Spanish European Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid in Melbourne on Friday.