SINGAPORE: Black pepper or chilli crab, Pepsi or Coca-Cola, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – these are perennial debates that will always rage on.
lt is a matter of taste for most and Juventus’ brawny superstar seems to have edged out Barcelona’s little magician as the flavour of the day – in Singapore, at least.
The diminutive Messi has yet to grace the pitch here, spending nothing more than a few hours in Singapore during a 2017 visit, to the disappointment of his fans.
Ronaldo on the other hand, has seen more than his fair share of the island – take his recent visit to Yumin Primary School where he was greeted by more cellphones than at Sim Lim Square and a glorious reception fit for a king.
And it wasn’t any surprise that the five-time Ballon D’Or winner was the main draw prior to the friendly match between Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur in the International Champions Cup clash on Sunday (Jul 21).
From the Grab driver who asked if this reporter was headed for the “Ronaldo game” to the scores of fans who faithfully donned their CR7 replica kits – home, away, third – there seemed only one name on the lips of many.
But it was a jaw-dropping Harry Kane winner from close to the halfway line that saw Spurs beat Juventus 3-2, despite the best efforts of Ronaldo.
Unlike the previous day’s Manchester United Inter Milan clash where there was an almost partisan crowd behind one side, there was more than a sliver of Spurs fans in the stands.
They made their voices clear from the warm-up as South Korean Son Heung-Min in particular drew the oohs and aahs.
But the loudest roar was undoubtedly for Portuguese superstar Ronaldo.
The hard-running Son caused a number of problems early on for Juventus, as Spurs put pressure on the Italian giants’ backline and in particular, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
At the other end, Son’s opposite number was not to be outmatched – attempting tricks, flicks and a bicycle kick of his own. Ronaldo’s best chance came in the 11th minute, but his shot was charged down by a host of Spurs defenders.
While Mauricio Pochettino fielded a largely second string line-up – Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Lucas Moura all left on the bench – his side’s Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp continued to impress with their tidy passing and stranglehold on possession.
Kyle Walker-Peters was also energetic down the left, as the youngster embarked on a number of lung-busting runs.
Unsurprisingly, it was Spurs who took the lead in the 29th minute, as a driving run by Son saw him tee up 17-year-old Troy Parrott.
Buffon could only parry Parrott’s shot into the path of the onrushing Eric Lamela, and he made it 1-0 with a simple tap-in.
Ten minutes later, Ronaldo could have put his side level, but failed to place his header on target after a Blaise Matuidi cross.
Despite Son being taken off at halftime, the momentum continued to stay with Spurs – Brazilian Lucas Moura’s shot in the 53rd minute not far away from making it 2-0.
But it would be another substitute who would make an impact on the game, striker Gonzalo Higuain tucking home a finish several minutes later to bring Juventus level.
With Juventus in the ascendancy, it was none other than Ronaldo who put them in front as he smashed home a finish in the 61th minute, sending the crowd into absolute delirium.
As Ronaldo departed to take his place on the bench several minutes later, Spurs struck back. A Tanguy Ndombele pass found Lucas and the Brazilian doubled his tally.
Harry Kane and Higuain both came close to giving their team the victory but as the game wore on, penalties seemed inevitable.
But in an exceptional finale, it was Kane who thumped home a wonder goal from the halftime line, leaving Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny stranded – a fitting end to a game which promised so much and delivered in equal measure.