Robert proves the inspiration for Newcastle

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Newcastle United 3
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The Independent Football

Glenn Hoddle clearly saw it coming. In his pre-match programme notes, the Tottenham manager had asked ­ in the wake of last week's 5-1 thrashing of Chelsea ­ for his team to avoid a case of after the Lord Mayor's show. His team looked as if they would honour his request but their resolve crumbled after the break when they conceded three goals in 12 minutes to put that emphatic Cup victory firmly to the back of their minds.

It was last month that Newcastle finally ended the curse of the capital that had hung over them for four years and 29 matches, and they did it in style by beating Arsenal. This time they proved that particular hoodoo was well and truly buried as they completed a North London double that will have Newcastle's fans and players alike positively relishing their next visit to the smoke.

After an insipid first half by the visitors, when they were clearly still working off the aftereffects of their slog through the London Road bog on Sunday in their Cup victory over Peterborough, Clarence Acuna's headed equaliser after 67 minutes was the catalyst for a revival that was remarkable even by Newcastle's standards this season.

Dean Richards had fouled Craig Bellamy near the touchline and from the substitute Laurent Robert's free-kick, the Chilean midfielder stole in unmarked at the far post to head past Sullivan from close range.

That put Newcastle in the driving seat as Tottenham failed to profit from the fact they had the fresher legs, having not played on Saturday because White Hart Lane was waterlogged.

The goal that put Newcastle ahead three minutes later was as much about the build-up as the execution. As Bellamy skipped past two men on the left flank, he raced into the penalty box and crossed to the far post where Alan Shearer continued his run and tapped in from two yards out.

With 12 minutes to go, victory was assured as Spurs wilted in the face of continued pressure, mainly orchestrated by the Frenchman Robert as well as Acuna. This time, the build-up outside Spurs penalty area involved Aaron Hughes and he found Bellamy, who latched on to the midfielder's pass and the Welshman easily diverted the ball past Sullivan.

It must have seemed like ancient history by the final whistle, but Spurs took the lead after just 17 minutes, when Newcastle were unrecognisable from the team that played after the break, something that could be explained by the absence of Rob Lee, Gary Speed and Kieron Dyer.

From a Darren Anderton corner, Nolberto Solano cleared Ledley King's goalbound shot, but only as far as Dean Richards, who headed his pass to Steffen Iversen, and the Norwegian gratefully finished from eight yards.

That should have been the cue for Tottenham to leave Newcastle in their wake, and shortly after Iversen was only denied a second by Nikos Dabizas. Just before the break , Richards sent a half-volley over.

Bobby Robson, who revealed Dyer will be out for another six weeks, said the title race was still wide open: "It's fantastic and I can't see who'll win it. Our industry was outstanding and got us through the game, and we'll keep chipping away."

Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Sullivan 6; King 6, Richards 7, Perry 6; Taricco 5, Sherwood 5, Anderton 6, Poyet 5, Davies 5 (Etherington, 70, 4); Sheringham 60, Iversen 5. Substitutes not used: Kelly (gk), Rebrov, Leonhardsen, Thelwell.

Newcastle United: (3-5-2): Given 6; O'Brien 6, Distin 6, Dabizas 6; Hughes 5, Acuna 6, McClen 5, Elliott 4 (Robert, h-t, 6), Solano 5; Shearer 6, Bellamy 7. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Barton, Ameobi, Kerr, Robert.

Referee: M Dean 7 (Heswall, Wirral).

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