FROM GTECH COMMUNITY STADIUM – Tottenham’s first Premier League match under Ange Postecoglou ended in a credible 2-2 draw at Brentford.
Spurs’ preparations this week were severely disrupted by the departure of club legend Harry Kane to Bayern Munich.
But the north Londoners demonstrated a willingness to play on the front foot and were good value for a point at the home of the Bees.
Brentford stifled Tottenham plenty but lacked a cutting edge in the second half and will be disappointed they couldn’t see off their opponents when the match was chaotic in the first 45.
How the game unfolded
Tottenham took an early lead when their new vice-captains combined. James Maddison’s whipped free-kick from the edge of the box was nodded in from close range by Cristian Romero, who was played onside by the knee of Nathan Collins.
That proved to be Romero’s last action as he was then immediately withdrawn after suffering a blow to the head in the opening exchanges.
Brentford sought to make immediate amends, winning the ball back high up the pitch and working it wide left to Bryan Mbeumo, whose near-post shot was pushed behind by Guglielmo Vicario.
Yoane Wissa attempted an audacious overhead kick from one of the following corners, but Vicario stood his ground and was able to catch it.
The hosts wanted a penalty when Mathias Jensen fell under a challenge from Son Heung-min in the box, and though their initial appeals were dismissed, they were awarded a spot kick following a VAR review. Mbeumo made no mistake from 12 yards to equalise.
Brentford took the lead shortly before the break. A quick free-kick forward caught Spurs napping, with Rico Henry able to gallop around Emerson Royal and square for Wissa to finish via a deflection from the trailing foot of Micky van de Ven.
During 11 minutes of first-half stoppage time, Son spurned a great chance to atone for conceding a penalty. A deep cross from Maddison was headed on by Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock, with the new Spurs captain lashing an opportune volley wide at the far post.
But Tottenham found a leveller with their next wave forward. Maddison thought he was tripped on the edge of the box and though his appeals were dismissed, the ball sat up nicely for Emerson to strike it on the half-volley, beating Mark Flekken between the sticks.
The Bees should have re-taken the lead in one last attack before the break. Again a quick ball over the top startled Spurs, with Henry this time crossing for a free Mbeumo, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
After the interval, Tottenham aggravated Brentford with their high-pressing but continued to look ropey in transition – Vitaly Janelt brought a low save out of Vicario and Mikkel Damsgaard fired the rebound straight at the Italian.
A low cross from Dejan Kulusevski fell nicely to Son at the back post after Brentford failed to clear a corner, but the South Korean was kept out by a fine stop from the feet of Flekken.
Richarlison was next to try his luck when Yves Bissouma and Maddison quickly worked the ball through midfield to him, with Flekken again standing tall to save the Bees.
Brentford went close to edging ahead again as the game entered the closing stages when a skewed cross from substitute Zanka looped and bounced just past the far post.
The Bees had to quickly retreat in order to deny Tottenham a late winner when Ivan Perisic’s through ball around the back was turned by Maddison and into the path of Richarlison, with Zanka providing a crucial interception.
GK: Mark Flekken – 8/10 – Replacing David Raya is no mean feat but the Netherlands international was inspiring on his debut, demonstrating a superb range of kicking and saving his side on multiple occasions.
RB: Aaron Hickey – 6/10 – Kept Son quiet for the most part but had to take a yellow card after cynically fouling the Spurs forward.
CB: Nathan Collins – 5/10 – A little unassured on his Brentford debut, but at least made his aerial dominance count a bit more the longer the game went on.
CB: Ethan Pinnock – 8/10 – Got his head on pretty much every cross and cleared danger effortlessly.
CB: Kristoffer Ajer – 6/10 – Lacked grace but brought thrust and aggression to a busy backline.
LB: Rico Henry – 8/10 – Superb. Took control of his flank at both ends and was unfortunate not to have added more assists.
CM: Mathias Jensen – 6/10 – Won the penalty but didn’t provide as much of a spark with his usual long-range passing. Substituted with injury shortly after the break.
CM: Christian Norgaard – 6/10 – Utilised as the quarter-back on his return to the side. Broke up play and distributed the ball quickly.
CM: Vitaly Janelt – 5/10 – A little rushed and harried in possession when he should have been more composed.
CF: Bryan Mbeumo – 7/10 – Constantly threatened Tottenham in transition though should have ended the day with more than a solitary penalty goal.
CF: Yoane Wissa – 8/10 – Made good on another chance to impress from the off. Withdrawn late on for the rapid Schade as the game opened up.
SUB: Mikkel Damsgaard (49′ for Jensen) – 6/10
SUB: Mads Roerslev (72′ for Hickey) – 6/10
SUB: Kevin Schade (72′ for Wissa) – 6/10
SUB: Shandon Baptiste (72′ for Norgaard) – 6/10
SUB: Zanka (84′ for Ajer) – N/A
Subs not used: Strakosha (GK), Yarmolyuk, Dasilva, Lewis-Potter
Thomas Frank – 6/10 – Brentford weren’t as much of a threat on the counter as was expected but they were solid defensively at least.
GK: Guglielmo Vicario – 6/10 – Held his own when Brentford bombarded Spurs, while was quick off his line to clear danger.
RB: Emerson Royal – 7/10 – Tottenham were slow and ponderous when Emerson was tasked with stepping into midfield and controlling possession but his goal proved crucial.
CB: Cristian Romero – 7/10 – Only played 14 minutes, but in that time he scored and Spurs didn’t concede. Fair enough.
CB: Micky van de Ven – 6/10 – Should have done more to clear Wissa’s strike but used his physical gifts superbly for long stretches of the match.
LB: Destiny Udogie – 7/10 – Played with an assured calmness of a seasoned veteran and not a youngster making their Premier League debut.
DM: Yves Bissouma – 8/10 – After a manic first half, Bissouma took control of the second, slowing play down when Spurs needed to before ensuring they clicked through the gears.
CM: Oliver Skipp – 5/10 – Failed to get on the ball enough to have any meaningful impact.
CM: James Maddison – 7/10 – The pantomime villain of the day. Booked for dissent and roundly taunted by home fans. Took creative responsibility for his new side, however.
RW: Dejan Kulusevski – 5/10 – Isolated in the first half before showing for the ball more in the second, but couldn’t carve Brentford open enough.
CF: Richarlison – 5/10 – Fought hard to break away from Brentford’s deep block, though was unable to get in the game for the most part.
LW: Son Heung-min – 5/10 – Conceded a penalty and lacked dynamism. Wasted the two decent half-chances afforded to him.
SUB: Davinson Sanchez (14′ for Romero) – 7/10 – A second strong performance this week from the Colombian, who remains in the shop window.
SUB: Pape Sarr (74′ for Skipp) – 6/10
SUB: Ivan Perisic (74′ for Son) – 5/10
Subs not used: Austin (GK), Porro, Davies, Hojbjerg, Lo Celso, Solomon
Ange Postecoglou – 6/10 – Tottenham look well-coached but still need to be a little more ruthless in both boxes.