Tottenham 2 Newcastle Utd 0: Owen completes Newcastle's black day

England striker faces three months out with broken toe as gloom deepens for Souness
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The Independent Online

A broken metatarsal for Michael Owen and, for his manager Graeme Souness, a fractured team also. The misery of this abject defeat for Newcastle was compounded by the sight of the £16.5 million striker failing to reappear for the second half after damaging his right foot as he stretched to reach the ball. Ironically, for his country's prospects, it came under a legitimate challenge by the England goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

The prognosis is up to three months out. "He has had an X-ray and he will be out for months, several months," Souness said. "It is the fifth [metatarsal], so it is similar to David Beckham," he added in reference to the injury suffered by the England captain before the last World Cup, which brought the term metatarsal into public use. Owen's fate should not be quite so dramatic. He should have time to recover for next summer.

"This is a dark day for us, given what has happened to Michael," Souness said. He also revealed that his goalkeeper, Shay Given, has probably broken a finger. Will he venture into the transfer market?

"That is something we would like to do," he said. "But we will have to wait and see. It's an almighty blow. A disappointing Christmas." Anyone who witnessed the miserable finish by Shola Ameobi, who scuffed the ball into the turf and over the bar with the goal beckoning after Robinson had parried a shot from the substitute Charles N'Zogbia, will bear witness to that.

Newcastle are simply not the same side without Owen. Even with him they were no side at all yesterday. Disorganised and in some cases - such as the appalling midfielder Amdy Faye - apparently disinterested. "Even when we are not playing well, with Michael in the team we can win games," claimed Souness. What prospect now of anything but the bleakest of new years? For Newcastle fans it is hard to overestimate the effect of it all.

The events understandably overshadowed a confident, accomplished performance from Spurs, who won through goals in either half by Teemu Tainio - his first for the club - and Mido. They also had the ball in the net on four other occasions, with each being ruled out for offside.

Three of those strikes were from Robbie Keane, captain in the absence of Ledley King, whose groin injury rules him out for another three weeks. That and the presence of Owen and Alan Shearer had gnawed away at the Spurs head coach, Martin Jol.

"When Owen is with Shearer they [Newcastle] have their best matches," he said. There was also Jol's "worry" that this was his side's third game inside a week and one that followed the soulless defeat at West Brom, while the intervention of the weather had afforded Newcastle a midweek rest.

Jol's concerns soon evaporated, with Michael Carrick controlling events and shrugging off the spikey attentions of Scott Parker. There was also the boost of Jermaine Jenas - a £7m signing from Newcastle - producing probably his best game yet for Spurs, while Michael Dawson stepped boldly into the void left by King.

Still Spurs struggled to find a cutting edge until, just before half-time, Robinson's long punt forward was headed on by Mido and as Titus Bramble slipped, Tainio struck a crisp half-volley from the angle of the area and across Given.

After the break, Keane was allowed to run from his own half and exchange passes with Tainio before releasing Jenas, whose shot struck the side-netting. The Irish striker then leapt acrobatically to pull down Carrick's magnificent cross-field pass and skipped past Robbie Elliott to tee up Mido, who made a hash of a header.

"Robbie Keane would be too expensive for a Scottish club," Jol said in response to questions that Celtic were interested in him. "That is a joke," he added, unconvincingly.

The joke was then on Newcastle as they conceded a second goal. Faye lost possession and Edgar Davids drove forward. Eventually the ball broke to Keane after Jenas had intervened when Davids' shot was blocked, and he centred for Mido. Again the Egyptian mistimed his effort, but his shot banged into the ground and looped over Given. Fortunate, yes, but no less than Spurs deserved.

A Parker shot from 30 yards whistled narrowly wide, while on three occasions Davids burst forward to try to add to the scoring. He came progressively closer, especially with a swivel and low shot, while Mido struck the outside of Given's near post before Ameobi should have pulled a goal back but committed his howler instead. But then he was far from being the only Newcastle player at fault.

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