Newcastle 2 Tottenham 1

Demba Ba

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter

At the Sports Direct Arena



Newcastle United 2 (Ba 55, Ben Arfa 80pen)

Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Defoe 75)



Newcastle United opened their 2012/13 Barclays Premier League campaign with a victory, as goals from Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa earned a 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.


The visitors were arguably the better team in the first period and twice hit the woodwork through a Jermain Defoe shot and Gareth Bale's header.


But the Magpies broke the deadlock ten minutes after the restart when Demba Ba cut inside and curled home an outstanding strike - his first goal since February.


Spurs hit back when Defoe tucked home from close range, having seen Tim Krul keep out his initial header, but United came straight back at them, with Ben Arfa winning - and scoring - a penalty.


In the early exchanges, Spurs forced a couple of corners and thought they had worked an opening, only for a combination of the assistant referee's flag and goalkeeper Krul thwarting Gylfi Sigurdsson a debut goal from six yards.


That aside, it was a very tame early period - punctuated by a handful of yellow cards - but United almost broke the deadlock in fortuitous circumstances on 22 minutes.


Ben Arfa was the architect, with an outstanding turn in the middle of the park to completely bypass Jake Livermore, before threading the ball into the feet of Ba.


The Senegalese forward turned and took an early shot, which struck the heels of strike partner Cisse, wrong-footing Brad Friedel but rolling agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.


Tottenham hit straight back and within three minutes Sigurdsson had forced Krul into a scrambling save down low to his left, as the summer signing tried his luck direct from a 25-yard free-kick.


Sigurdsson and Cheick Tiote both flashed shots well off target before Defoe was inches away from giving the visitors the lead in the 32nd minute.


Racing into the box, the England international cut inside Steven Taylor and drove a low effort towards Krul's near post which had the keeper - but not the woodwork - beaten as it rolled clear.


Four minutes later Spurs were again denied by the frame of the goal. This time, Aaron Lennon ran at Davide Santon down the right, worked a yard of space and delivered a deep, hanging cross to the far post.


Bale was waiting, rose unmarked and headed powerfully towards goal, only to see his effort bounce to safety via the crossbar.


The second half started much like the first, with plenty of huff and puff from both sides but little quality in the final third. However, that all changed ten minutes in thanks to Ba.


An impressive, flowing move involving Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye eventually found Danny Simpson down the right, with the full-back flighting a cross towards the far post.


Ba was lurking, and although Kyle Walker beat him to the original delivery, the big front man was on hand to pick up the loose ball and brilliantly curl home past the despairing dive of Friedel. 


Tottenham responded, and Krul did well to beat away a long-range drive from left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto, while they also introduced Dutch international playmaker Rafael van der Vaart in place of Sigurdsson.


Just 48 hours after completing his switch from Ajax, new signing Vurnon Anita was handed his debut in the 71st minute, replacing Yohan Cabaye in the middle of the park.


But Spurs continued to press for an equaliser and Krul did brilliantly to get down and stop Defoe's low shot from a tight angle, with centre-back Steven Taylor completing the defensive duties by clearing up the loose ball.


The visitors were finally level on 75 minutes. When the ball was worked out left to Lennon, the winger had all the time in the world to chip a cross towards Defoe at the far post.


And although his initial header was pushed onto the post by Krul for an impressive point-blank save, Defoe was alert to follow up and tuck home from a couple of yards.


They were back on level terms for just five minutes however, as Newcastle edged back in front from the penalty spot.


Ben Arfa had been the hosts' most creative player all afternoon and when he tricked his way inside Lennon and Van der Vaart and tumbled under their challenge just inside the area, referee Martin Atkinson had no hesitation in pointing straight at the spot.


The French forward picked the ball up, placed it on the spot himself and strode up to send Friedel the wrong way, tucking it into the bottom right-hand corner of the net and sending the Geordie faithful wild in the process.


United weren't done there though and Friedel was forced to tip over a Gutierrez strike from distance which threatened to dip under his crossbar.


The home side had to withstand some heavy late pressure, but did so admirably to record all three points on the opening weekend of the new campaign. 



Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, James Perch, Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye (Vurnon Anita 71), Jonas Gutierrez (c); Demba Ba (Gabriel Obertan 85), Papiss Cisse


Subs not used: Steve Harper, Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson, Dan Gosling, Romain Amalfitano



Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Brad Friedel; Kyle Walker, Williams Gallas (c), Younes Kaboul, Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Jake Livermore, Sandro (Harry Kane 86); Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson (Rafael van der Vaart 68), Gareth Bale; Jermain Defoe


Subs not used: Carlo Cudicini, Kyle Naughton, Jan Vertonghen, Jermaine Jenas, Andros Townsend



Referee: Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire)



Attendance: 52,385 (3,200 Tottenham)



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