SATURDAY 11TH AUGUST, 2018
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(2)
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- Lee Betts, Stephen Child
Fourth official:- Paul Tierney
Newcastle (4-4-1-1):- Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles (Capt.), Clark, Dummett; Ritchie (sub Atsu, 69), Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy; Perez (sub Muto, 81); Joselu (sub Rondon, 59)
Subs not used:- Darlow; Schar, Manquillo; Ki Sung-yueng
Booked:- Joselu (foul on Dier), Diame (foul on Kane)
Spurs (4-2-3-1);- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Sissoko, Dier (sub Amos, 88); Lucas Moura (sub Dembele, 68), Eriksen, Dele Alli (sub Son, 80); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Alderweireld, Walker-Peters; Llorente
Booked:- Dier (foul on Kenedy); Kane (foul on Kenedy)
World Cup stars seal a win for Spurs
Spurs repeated an away win on the first game of the season at Newcastle, which they did last year, but with a different scoreline (2-0 last year). Mauricio Pochettino started with a stronger team than some expected with no less than 5 World Cup semi-finalists, two of whom scored the goals for the away side in an eventful opening quarter of the game.
Jan Vertonghen’s opener needed goal-line technology to be confirmed, but that was quickly signalled by referee Martin Atkinson, who also went to Russia, but on a bicycle for charity and not to referee or officiate. Dele Alli’s clinching header was similar to the World Cup goal he had scored against Sweden.
Between those goals Newcastle’s Joselu had quickly equalised Vertonghen’s opener, and the home side later gave Hugo Lloris plenty to worry about with Diame and substitute Rondon hitting the woodwork, and Spurs having to defend one or two other situations quite desperately. Both Davinson Sanchez and “Super” Jan Vertonghen were sharp, but others such as both full backs and the central midfield were perhaps less alert to the efforts of Jonjo Shelvey in the middle and the always threatening Matt Ritchie. Ritchie had apparently been a transfer target for both Stoke and Middlesbrough, but on this form Rafa Benitez had obvious reasons for not wanting to let him go.
Although goalkeeper Dubravka and Chelsea midfielder Kenedy featured last season for Newcastle as loanees (Kenedy is on a season-long loan this year), none of Newcastle’s new signings started today. Salomon Rondon who only arrived on deadline day and is another loan signing (from West Brom) featured on the programme cover and wears the iconic number 9 shirt but did not get on until the second half. Strike partner Muto got on even later.
The match was played in glorious sunshine with temperatures around 23 C. Spurs kicked off and in the first minute Sissoko won a free kick near the bye-line. Eriksen took the kick and slipped it back to Ben Davies, but he was not sufficiently alert, and the ball was cleared. After 5 minutes, Newcastle gifted a ball to Lucas who crossed from the right towards Dele, who was looking keen and sharp. Newcastle cleared at the second attempt. Eriksen had a left footed shot which took a slight touch, perhaps from the keeper to win a corner.
After the corner, taken by Eriksen, Sanchez headed across goal and Vertonghen headed from close range. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar and was over the line by 9 mm (whatever that is in English!).
Spurs’ dream start was ruined by Joselu’s equaliser, headed across Lloris inside his right post after Ritchie’s deep cross from the right.
The lead was regained in the 18th minute by Dele Alli who rose magnificently beyond the back post to meet Serge Aurier’s excellent cross. Dele headed home back across the keeper.
That was the end of the scoring, but not the chances, which fell at both ends, but Spurs probably had more to worry about. A Ciaran Clark header was blocked from another Ritchie cross, and left back Dummett hit a left footed shot wide following a corner.
Spurs countered with a long ball to Davies, who passed inside to Harry Kane. Kane hit a longish cross to Aurier, but Serge’s effort was well high of the target. Dele continued to look sharp and Kane won a corner from another move, but overall Harry looked less sharp, and continues his failure to score a Premier League goal in August. Next week then Harry! The corner was taken from the left by Eriksen, and met by Sanchez, who glanced the ball wide across the goalmouth.
Clark then had a shot go wide from a set piece at the other end.
Eric Dier became the first player booked when he ended Kenedy’s run near the half-way line. This had followed a good break by Spurs with Eriksen passing to Kane, but Kane losing the ball.
Within a minute of the restart Spurs had a scare after Shelvey’s header sent Diame away in too much space on the left. Diame hit a powerful left footed shot which rebounded off the outside of Hugo Lloris’s right hand post.
Spurs’ best chance of this half came a few minutes later. Eriksen advanced down the right channel and fed Kane. After Kane’s touch Dele hit a shot which goalkeeper Dubravka saved, reaching backwards and almost over his line.
Spurs had another escape when Lloris managed to clear from the edge of his area, when once again Newcastle had been given, or had found too much space.
Dubravka saved well from Sissoko after good work from Kane and Davies. Sanchez then had a shot go over the target after an Aurier cross from the right. There was a scramble in the Spurs area after 59 minutes with Lloris finally saving at close range with Perez involved for Newcastle.
Ben Davies was fouled at the other end but Eriksen’s free kick ran straight to the goalkeeper. As happened here last year Harry Kane was booked for Spurs, stopping Kenedy in his tracks. Eriksen benefitted from a lucky rebound and passed to Spurs substitute Mousa Dembele, who actually had a shot, but it passed the wrong side of the post.
Lloris was in action again countering a dangerous attack with a solid clearing punch – probably double handed.
Again, Newcastle hit the woodwork, and again Shelvey was the provider. This time it was Rondon who hit the shot, with this one hitting the bar. Jan Vertonghen had got an importantt touch to push the ball's trajectory sufficiently upward. Muto threatened inside the box, but Spurs managed to clear. Now, it became a case of seeing out the four minutes of added time, which was extended due to an injury to former Spur DeAndre Yedlin, who hobbled off in added time when Newcastle had used their three substitutes.
This had been a difficult fixture for Spurs to negotiate with the late arrival of 9 of their key players following the world Cup. The result was a great success and a great start to the season. Next week, we return to Wembley for one more “home” game – against promoted Fulham.
Addendum - On Monday 13th August, the club announced that due to safety reasons the new stadium will not be opening on scedule and more games including Liverpool and Cardiff at home will be played at Wembley. The Man City game, scheduled for Sunday 28th October is in the balance, and any home Champions League games will also need the venue confirmed.
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