Newcastle United 6 Tottenham Hotspur 1
- David Coote
Newcastle United took a big step towards securing qualification for Europe on Sunday as they thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 at St. James' Park.
It was a scarcely believable spell and though Spurs replied through Harry Kane after the break, Callum Wilson's sharp finish made sure the gap between the sides at the end would be five goals - an emphatic margin reflecting Howe's charges total dominance.
The result lifts United up to third in the Premier League table, with Newcastle holding a six-point advantage and a game in hand over Cristian Stellini's men, who were fortunate to escape an even heavier thumping.
Murphy's close-range opener came after just a minute and it was the result of another blistering start from United - the kind supporters have come to expect under Howe's management. Bruno Guimarães picked up the loose ball and fed Joelinton, who cut inside and shot. Hugo Lloris pushed it away but only as far as Murphy, who pounced to smash home the loose ball.
The second duly followed four minutes later. It was a staggeringly straightforward strike but superbly executed by Joelinton, whose first touch to control Fabian Schär's pass over the top was perfect. The Brazilian's second touch took him round Lloris with ease and his third dispatched the ball into the back of the net to leave the visitors reeling.
Things couldn't have gone much better for United, who clicked into gear in spectacular fashion. Eight minutes in, Murphy had his second and it was a stunner. Schär won a 50-50 in the middle of the park and the ball ran for the winger, who picked up possession and picked his spot, arrowing a dipping drive beyond the shellshocked Lloris and into the bottom corner.
The fourth came on 18 minutes. It was already a rout by then but Joe Willock's magnificent outside-of-the-boot pass, bent into the path of Isak, made things even better for the Magpies. The Swedish frontman coolly slotted home and with the cheers only just dying down, Isak thumped in a fifth two minutes later - Sean Longstaff's neat backheel made it, an the finish was unerring and true.
Only one Premier League side had ever netted five quicker (Manchester City against Watford in September 2019) and the scoreline didn't flatter the Magpies, who could have been at least six goals up at the break. Longstaff tried to get in on the act late in the half, but saw his drive deflected just past the upright.
Four minutes after the restart - with former United stopper Fraser Forster having replaced Lloris between the sticks - Spurs mustered a consolation. It came through Kane, who had whipped a shot just wide in a very rare moment of opportunity early on, and it was well-taken; a neat finish with his left foot after breaking into the box.
It proved to be just a brief bit of respite for Stellini and his beleaguered players. Longstaff flashed one wide moments later before inadvertently blocking Dan Burn's header as it made its way to goal and though there seemed to be more structure to Spurs' game in the second half, there remained no real threat of what would have been a hugely improbably fightback.
And with a quarter of the contest left, United added to their tally. Two of Howe's substitutes combined, with Miguel Almirón seeing his shot blocked and Wilson - who had only entered the fray seconds earlier - well-placed to snaffle up the rebound, firing first-time beyond Forster to add extra gloss to an already remarkable scoreline.
Anthony Gordon, another substitute sent on by Howe, almost made it seven when he tried to poke Willock's lay-off beyond Forster, and though Spurs were able to hook the ball away on that occasion they couldn't have complained had it gone in. Newcastle were great value for their six goals - and then some - and while Nick Pope was called into action to repel Arnaut Danjuma's shot late on, this was just about as comprehensive as a victory can be.