Tottenham vs Newcastle match report: Gone in six seconds: Sammy Ameobi's strike takes game away from Spurs

Newcastle come from behind to win 2-1 thanks to Ayoze Perez's winner

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The Independent Football

Newcastle United contributed almost nothing to the first half of this game, and when they emerged for the restart a good few minutes before Tottenham Hotspur, warming up on the pitch, it looked like an empty gesture. But six seconds after Anthony Taylor’s whistle, Sammy Ameobi had put them level and their eventual 2-1 victory was entirely deserved.

It was one of the unlikelier turnarounds of the season as Newcastle showed energy, bravery and dedication that looked far beyond them in a first half which Tottenham had dominated. But Newcastle could do what Tottenham could not, in finding an extra gear in the second half to win the game.

“It was a great victory today,” said a rightfully proud Alan Pardew, who praised his team’s “tremendous character”. This was Newcastle’s first away league win since 1 March, which was also the last time that they won consecutive league games.

Having looked anything but a team from the start of the season, they clicked here after Pardew had made two half-time substitutions, with Ameobi and Rémy Cabella coming on, inspired by some firm instructions.

Newcastle had already completed the new on-pitch warm-up by the time Spurs came out for the second half, utterly unprepared for what was about to happen. Newcastle took the kick-off, Jack Colback played a straight pass inside Eric Dier, Ameobi ran on to it and fired the ball into the opposite corner of the net.

Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, said that it was a “shock” that changed the whole game. “Six seconds before, it was all happiness and there was a good energy in the stadium,” he said. “Our supporters were happy and believed that we would get a good result.”

Pardew joked that the club’s sport scientist had claimed responsibility for the result, owing to the new half-time routine. “We have struggled at the start of second halves,” he said. “So we purposely thought that we would do a bit of work before the start of the second half.”

Pardew’s interpretation of things was that it was the half-time team talk, reminding his players of their responsibilities, that turned the game.

“There were a few strong words,” Pardew said. “I reminded them about the fundamentals of the Premier League, and we came out with a much stronger attitude. It’s not nice to go in and bark out orders but sometimes it is necessary, because we needed shaking up.”

Sammy Ameobi celebrates his equalising goal

From then on, Newcastle were excellent. Yoan Gouffran moved closer to Ayoze Perez up front, and with Ameobi and Cabella on the wings, they were far more dangerous. Just 12 more minutes into the second half, Newcastle took a deserved lead. Moussa Sissoko burst down the left and laid the ball back to Cabella, who crossed to Perez, who jumped above Danny Rose to head in, on his first Premier League start.

Pochettino threw on Harry Kane, then Aaron Lennon and then Roberto Soldado, but to no effect. Tottenham had an effort disallowed when Christian Eriksen’s corner went out of play before being deflected in. Their next best chance was when Kane drove the ball across the face of goal, only for none of his team-mates to have the conviction to attack the ball.

It was fairly ordinary stuff, though, as the whole ground waited for a late siege that never came. It was Spurs’ third home defeat in the league this season, the others coming against Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion.

Spurs had started well enough – Emmanuel Adebayor had headed in Ryan Mason’s clipped cross after 18 minutes – without ever taking the game away from Newcastle.

Pochettino bemoaned the lack of focus that allowed a probable win to turn into an improbable defeat. “There was a lack of concentration from us,” he said. “It is impossible to go on to the pitch and not be ready to start to play. In that moment [the equaliser] it was difficult to manage in our head. Our heads had gone and we started to take rash decisions on the pitch.”

Emmanuel Adebayor had put Tottenham in front

For all the hard work Pochettino has done on Spurs’ physical conditioning and their tactical shape, he admits that the mental side of the game – such as the ability to close out wins – needs work. “We need to work hard on our mentality because it is not tactical, physical, it is concentration and mentality,” he said. “We need to be stronger. We need to create a different situation on our training ground.”

This is Pochettino’s great challenge at Spurs, teaching a talented set of players how to win. The lack of authority and leadership on the pitch were glaringly obvious again.

A victorious Pardew said afterwards that Newcastle had been “a big club playing like a small club” until their second-half self-assertion. Pochettino might well know what he means.