John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have over 450 mutual friends on Facebook. I am pleased to add this "third eye" feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our 1-0 win against Newcastle.
John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Newcastle United
Spurs may have stuttered staggered and stumbled over the line but... They made it!
Tottenham have secured Champions League for the third successive season and will showcase their first season at the new White Hart Lane with the Champions League anthem ringing out into the N17 skies. Oh how nice it will be to return home!
Tonight was though a tense fraught evening with nerves jangling on edge throughout the whole match. If it wasnít stressful enough watching Spurs toil to victory, the drama was added to by updates coming in from Stamford Bridge!
Chelsea always seem to get one over on Spurs donít they? When they went one down, they were nailed on to come back and win werenít they? Six minutes added time - who didnít expect a 97th minute winner!?
So, of the various outcomes anticipated tonight, few would have envisaged Tottenham Hotspur qualifying for the Champions League after tonightís fixtures. The 9th May 2018 is without doubt a special day to remember and savour.
The match kicked off with many of the 53,923 fans still streaming into the stadium. In the third minute Kane couldnít quite bring the ball under control to fashion an opening for a shot. The travelling Geordie fans made their feelings known towards Sissoko by roundly booing him with his every touch of the ball.
There were a couple of early goal mouth scrambles in the Newcastle penalty area but in the sixth minute at the other end, Davies did well to block a shot from a Newcastle break away. Recognising the importance of the occasion, the Spurs fans were up for it and did their best to get behind the team.
In the ninth minute Wanyama ran into a blind alley but was brought down for a free kick outside the box towards the right wing. Eriksen stepped up and his free kick brought a good save from the opposing keeper. A couple of minutes later, a Sanchez slip and a barge on Vertonghen brought a shot on goal which Lloris saved comfortably.
A matter of minutes later a ball into the Spurs box was not dealt with conclusively. Vertonghen weakly headed to the edge of the box in a central position straight to a Newcastle player and then rushed out to correct his error but gave away a free kick in a very dangerous position. Shelvey stepped up, his shot beat the wall and hit the outside of the post... Phew that was close!
Spurs looked all over the place at the back and by the 18th minute the crowd had begun to voice their frustrations. Eriksen who was instrumental in all Spurs best moves won a 24th minute corner which fell to Wanyama who blazed over the bar from a good position. In the 27th minute a free header off a Geordie corner brought an agile diving save from Lloris to keep the scores level.
Just two minutes later and a cross from the left wing brought another Newcastle free header which fortunately went over the bar with Spurs looking short of numbers at the back. The shape of the team looked completely wrong all across the park. Spurs though struck back and in the 32nd minute a long diagonal ball from Eriksen found Kane who shot back across goal but beyond the far post. Then within a minute up stepped Vertonghen to fire a firmly struck shot into the keeperís midriff.
After a further spell of huffing and puffing, Spurs won a free kick within shooting distance. Kane though surprisingly elected to play the ball out to Trippier who crossed for the keeper to save the resultant header.
Shortly afterwards, Kane found himself through on goal but fluffed his chance. This was a chance he would ordinarily have buried but for the first time since breaking through into the first team Kane looked bereft of confidence.
Overall it had been a tough half to watch. Wanyama and Sissoko proved they are not a creative force and with Son, Kane and Dele looking laboured Spurs struggled to impose themselves on the game. During the half time interval news filtered through of Huddersfield winning at Chelsea. Nobody on the concourse was under any illusions of Chelsea not coming back to win though.
The pivotal moment of the match came in the 50th minute. Son twisted this way and that way before he found space and squared to Kane whose first time side-foot shot beat the despairing dive of the keeper to hit the roof of the net. 1-0 Spurs!!! And what a fine goal it was too!
The goal lifted the fans and the players. A succession of corners came and amongst the constant attacks a fine controlled volley from Vertonghen which the keeper managed to parry. Newcastle hadnít got their proverbial end of season beach towels out just yet though and broke down the right courtesy of a lenient refereeing decision for what seemed a foul on Davies. The cross led to a couple of blocks before Lloris just managed to push the ball out for a corner.
After a prolonged spell of possession Dele brought a comfortable save from the keeper. In the 72nd Sanchez was outstripped down the left, the shot came in from the angle but thankfully flew high and wide.
During the course of the match, a number of fans expressed exasperation, irrespective of contract issues and with so much at stake, why was our best defender Alderweireld sat on the bench? A minute later Son went down under a heavy challenge in the box but the referee waved away his appeals for a penalty.
The focus moved away from Wembley to the countdown at Stamford Bridge. The match had started 15 minutes earlier than the Spurs game and whilst Chelsea had managed to draw level the much expected winner hadnít materialised yet. The game had reached the 90th minute and then the hammer blow of six minutes added had been announced...For once though they couldnít force a winner and Chelsea had dropped two points in a surprising 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield which ensured safety for the plucky visitors.
A loud cheer immediately rang out around Wembley and the atmosphere lifted immeasurably! If Spurs could just keep Newcastle out for the remaining minutes of the match, Champions League would be secured - who would have thought that at the start of the night??
In the last minute Dele found Lamela whose lay off put Rose in on his right foot but the shot lacked power and was kept out by the keeper. In the five minutes of added time, outrageous ďsee you laterĒ skills by Lamela brought a free kick and a Newcastle booking which allowed time to be eaten up.
There was however still the chance of a final sting in the tail as in the final minute of added time, Kane played a loose ball out to the left wing which allowed Newcastle to break... Rose was drawn into giving a free kick away in a central position mid way in the Spurs half. Memories of the last minute Hawthorns debacle flooded back. Surely lightning wouldnít strike twice... and it didnít!
The final whistle blew to ensure Sundayís season finale would be a relaxed celebratory day with the opportunity of securing a third place finish to play for. Having played a whole season away from home it is a remarkable achievement. Mauricio Pochettino, his coaching and playing staff are to be congratulated for their efforts.
∑ Spurs Odyssey match report
John Ellis's Facebook page
El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
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