Newcastle United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2
- Andre Marriner
Ten-man Newcastle United suffered defeat on their return to the Premier League, as Tottenham Hotspur’s second half salvo gave the visitors a 2-0 win at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
England midfielder Dele Alli was at the heart of two of the afternoon’s major talking points, having played a part in the dismissal of the Magpies’ Jonjo Shelvey before bagging the opener.
Shelvey received his marching orders following an innocuous altercation with Alli in the middle of the park just after the break, with both sides having demonstrated their attacking intent in an even first period.
But with Rafa Benítez’s side a man light, Spurs took full advantage, as Alli turned home Tottenham’s first goal with half an hour remaining.
And Wales international Ben Davies added a second just before the 70-minute mark, slotting low past Rob Elliot to condemn Newcastle to defeat.
Backed by a boisterous sell-out crowd, United began brightly. Their first sight of goal came barely five minutes in, as Paul Dummett lofted a pass over the backtracking Toby Alderweireld’s head. Dwight Gayle, though, couldn’t find the target, slicing high and wide with his unfavoured left foot.
Benítez was forced into an early change shortly after, with the injured Dummett making way for Jamaal Lascelles, but the hosts kept their shape, with Ciaran Clark moving to left back. Mousa Dembele saw a shot blocked and Christian Eriksen drove wide as Mauricio Pochettino’s side – runners-up to champions Chelsea last term – began to probe.
With just over half an hour on the clock, Benítez was forced to make another change. Debutant Florian Lejeune was flattened by Harry Kane – who was booked for his challenge on the Frenchman – and was unable to continue, with Chancel Mbemba coming on in his place.
And just a few minutes after the restart, the Magpies’ task became even more difficult as they were reduced to ten men. Shelvey was shown a straight red card by referee Andre Marriner, who deemed the midfielder had stood on Alli after the Spurs man had conceded a free kick in the middle of the field.
But Newcastle rallied, with Hugo Lloris forced into his first save of the afternoon to deny Gayle, who had hooked goalwards from a tight angle in front of the Gallowgate End.
And at the other end, Elliot had to be at his best to deny Kane, who looked certain to score when the ball fell to him in the box. Elliot, though, produced a stunning stop, turning away the shot from close range to keep the deadlock intact.
But it wasn’t intact for long. With Tottenham beginning to assert their authority, Eriksen swung in a cross from the right which was met by Alli, who stretched to turn the ball past Elliot and give the visitors the lead.
And just under ten minutes later, it was two. Some neat build-up play on the edge of the United box eventually led to the ball falling kindly for full back Davies, who dispatched low beyond Elliot to dampen the hosts’ hopes of taking something from the contest.
There was a debut for another of Benítez’s summer signings in Mikel Merino, who came off the bench for a promising cameo appearance, but Spurs comfortably held on despite the best efforts of Christian Atsu, who saw a strike saved by Lloris and another find the sidenetting, and Clark, whose volley was held by the French international stopper.
Pochettino's men could even have added to their lead, as Kane was twice denied in the closing minutes - once by the post, and once by the offside flag.