No triumphant return for AVB as Toon spoil party
Newcastle United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1: The new 'Special One' suffers defeat in his first game in charge of Tottenham, while Alan Pardew sees red for arguing with assistant
He was upstaged again. On the second bow of the new special one, Andre Villas-Boas could not even emerge as the most talked about of the two managers on display.
No doubt that would have suited if Tottenham had managed to hand their new manager a victorious return to English football.
They could not, and instead, the pitch-line spat between Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, and the referee's assistant, Stuart Burt, was the obvious starting point for a new season, old manners and often breathless action.
Pardew's ire was stoked by the decision of Burt not to give Newcastle a throw-in just before the hour mark when Benoil Assou-Ekotto took the ball over the touchline (television replays would show he had). Hatem Ben Arfa backed his manager's protestation as Pardew then strode from his technical area and appeared to push Burt in the back. At that point Lee Mason, the fourth official warned Pardew not to touch an official and from there he was dismissed, sent on the long walk through the back of the Milburn Stand before he emerged in the Directors Box, sporting a headset that he would ultimately give up on trying to work, even after help from Derek Llambias, the Newcastle managing director.
Pardew could now face a touchline ban, but in his absence, Newcastle, who were leading, were pegged back before finding favour with Martin Atkinson, who gave them a justifiable penalty with ten minutes remaining.
Hatem ben Arfa, Newcastle's most dangerous player, won the awarded spot-kick when he was dragged down by Aaron Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart as he strode into the Tottenham penalty area. Ben Arfa himself then strode up to take the penalty and tucked his shot past Brad Friedel.
It was hard to pick Pardew out of the crowd, but the cameras did, and he was there, punching the air in sheer delight. That had been his reaction in the 55th minute, when Newcastle had taken the lead. The level of justification at that point was more dubious. Tottenham had been the better side for the opening 45 minutes and he needed that kind of assured return. His reentrance onto the public stage had to be filled with nerves, even if he did not emit them before the game. He was very publicly stripped down by the Chelsea owner and the Chelsea players before he was unceremoniously sacked after a defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
The pressing game that he fought so hard (and ultimately failed) to implement at Stamford Bridge was more evident. Newcastle were penned back, something that rarely happened last season at home, and were on the backfoot by the time Tottenham twice hit the woodwork late in the half.
They themselves had gone close in the 22nd minute, but it was good fortune more than design that had almost given Newcastle the lead. Ben Arfa had fed Ba, who shot for goal from 25 yards. The effort clipped the unsuspecting Papiss Cisse and the deflection wrong-footed Friedel, but the ball trickled past the near post.
Twice Gylfi Sigurdsson gave warning of the visitors' threat, but that was overshadowed late in the half. Just past the half hour mark the debutant fed Jermaine Defoe on the Tottenham left and as Steven Taylor delayed making a challenge, the England forward struck a low shot that bounced off the Newcastle post and into the heart of their six yard area, only for Davide Santon to hack to safety.
Five minutes later they had struck the woodwork again. This time a fine run down the right by Aaron Lennon saw him beat Santon, the Italian full back , and chip a cross to the far post. There was still much for Gareth Bale to do but he generated the power from his header to beat Krul and Taylor could again only watch as the effort cannoned off the bar.
They were to prove key moments. Ten minutes after the break, Newcastle had their lead. Danny Simpson crossed deep and hopefully, Kyle Walker headed weakly and from there, on the angle of the Tottenham penalty area, Ba took a touch before curling a shot into the bottom corner of the visitors' goal. Pardew was delighted. Then, minutes later his mood had darkened, when the ball was not given out and Sigurdsson curled a shot wide of Tim Krul's goal. And then he was off.
That merely cranked up things at St James' Park, but without their choirmaster, they were pegged back. Again it was the creativity of Lennon that did for Newcastle, crossing to the far post where Krul did well to save Defoe's first headed effort. The ball however, ran to the post and the rebound was perfectly placed for Defoe to add a second.
Newcastle could have been forgiven for buckling, but Pardew's side also has fight. Ben Arfa went down, scored the penalty and how Pardew went up.
Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, S Taylor, Perch, Santon; Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Anita, 71), Tiote, Gutierrez; Cisse, Ba (Obertan, 85).
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Friedel: Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Sandro (Kane, 86), Livermore; Lennon, Sigurdsson (Van der Vaart, 68), Bale; Defoe.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Ben Arfa (Newcastle)
Match rating: 8/10
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