Well, that’s one way to start a pre-season.
It’s safe to say that Tottenham’s tour of South Korea has been anything but lowkey so far, with Antonio Conte’s men kick-starting their summer of 2022/23 build-up with a nine-goal thriller against K-League XI that included some long-ranged screamers, a red card and a Spurs penalty that wasn’t taken by Harry Kane.
It was a frantic contest in Seoul, with Eric Dier, Kane (twice) and Son Heung-min (twice) getting on the scoresheet, alongside a Jin-hyuk Kim own goal to cancel out strikes from Cho Gue-sung, Lars Veldwijk and Jun Amano — with Kim Dong-min also getting sent off.
There’s a lot to unravel, so we’ve tried our best to identify the key moments from this frantically-paced and drama-fuelled friendly.
1. Eric Dier’s banger
Eric Dier has a penchant to score a banger every now and then — his free-kick in England’s opening match of Euro 2016 is a testament to that notion. And here he got the first goal of Spurs’ 2022/23 campaign in style, netting from range to break the deadlock… and with his left foot no less. The goal was a sign of things to come.
A sensational strike to open the scoring ?
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 13, 2022
2. ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’
In a match that often veered between the mesmeric and utter madness, two free-kicks were scored somewhere in the mix. Jun Amano’s left-footed curler from range seemed pretty harmless when it left his boot, but the wall — for some reason, maybe fatigue? — elected not to jump and Hugo Lloris went scrambling to his near post as the shot hit the back of the net.
Four minutes later Kane decided to have a pop from a deadball scenario of his own and duly tucked home with a low drive. Where’s Marcelo Brozovic and his ‘crocodile move’ when you need him?
3. Kane’s penalty concession
For a striker that went to the Premier League’s Goal Accreditation Appeals Panel to take a finish away from his team-mate and award it to himself, it seems bizarre that Kane was willing to let Son take a spot-kick when he was on the pitch, even for a friendly. Christian Eriksen probably couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Of course, this being South Korea, the homeland of Son, it probably makes sense that Spurs wanted him to be the headline act. He probably won’t get such selfless treatment when the Premier League starts next month. He did win the Golden Boot without taking a single penalty last season, mind.
4. A red card!
It really takes a special kind of performance to get sent off in a friendly, but Kim Dong-min managed just that. As Son went racing through on goal his compatriot hauled him down and the referee duly issued him an early bath. As if this game needed anymore drama.
5. Richarlison’s role explained
Amid the chaos and pandemonium that was unravelling at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Conte would have somehow had to analyse proceedings with his tactical cap on, and that would have meant assessing new boy Richarlison, who has been signed despite the club already boasting an already-established, formidable front three.
Fans have been wondering where the former Everton forward fits into the Son-Kane-Dejan Kulusevski equation, and after the match, Conte shed some tactical light.
He told reporters: “Today I’ve seen a lot of positive things about Richy. The first half he played like a number nine and the second half he played on the right, behind the striker. I think he can play in all these three positions.
I think he is strong physically and a good personality, good character, good quality. For sure also for Richy in this period he is working and we are working on the tactical aspects with him because he has to go into our idea. At the same time we have to work on the physical aspects for him to be fit. But for sure he is a player that gives me important positions up front.”
6. Of course there was an own goal as well
For TWO whole minutes after the restart nothing had happened, it must have felt like test match cricket for fans in that stadium, but thankfully Jin-hyuk Kim was on hand to put that right. 180 seconds into the second half and he decided enough was enough and poked the ball into his own net from a Kane cross to get the goal bonanza back on track.
The unsung hero of this match.