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Newcastle vs Tottenham match report: Spurs heartbreak as Arsenal move above them following shock defeat

Newcastle 5 Tottenham 1: Spurs needed just a draw to secure second spot but fell apart at St James' Park despite Newcastle being reduced to 10 men

Martin Hardy
Sunday 15 May 2016 19:23 BST
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Harry Kane pictured in Tottenham's 5-1 defeat to Newcastle
Harry Kane pictured in Tottenham's 5-1 defeat to Newcastle (Getty)

In the manager’s office at St James' Park at quarter past five on Sunday, Rafa Benitez offered his sympathies to Mauricio Pochettino.

Pochettino still looked bewildered ten minutes later when he told the story - the kind of tilted head look the character Tim in The Office gives the camera in response to the absurdity of David Brent - but there was much of that at St James’ Park, a lot of head scratching, looks of bewilderment, a day of, ‘did that just happen?’

Did Newcastle really get relegated? Was that truly raucous afternoon their Premier League swansong? How on earth can Rafa Benitez not be in charge when they start life in a different division in a couple of months’ time?

The final one is all that matters to save a football club, and the sight of Mike Ashley, the club owner, sat in his seat for the first time since the campaign started, should, and it is a should, be hugely significant.

Nobody mentioned him, or the managing director Lee Charnley, as the goals rained in and the volume of songs about Rafa Benitez went up.

Nobody was quite sure how Newcastle had become the story, but that, perhaps, says everything about the club. They chase nothing as much as the limelight.

Rafa Benitez acknowledges the fans (Getty)

The news in short, for there was much of it, was that Tottenham, on the final day of the season, had blown both the chance to finish as runners-up in the Premier League for the first time and also the chance to finish above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years.

The line of coaches that took their supporters north went back for perhaps half a mile, right the way up Barrack Road, outside the stadium. It looked like a symbol of intent, but they will have sneaked back into the capital on Sunday evening.

Most of the 3,300 Spurs fans perched high in Level Seven of St James’ Park were headed back to their bus before Anthony Taylor even blew the final whistle. They cannot have envisaged the afternoon’s events unfolding as they did, that their team would be blown away, that they would be largely ignored guests at a relegation send off that roused all four corners of the stadium, and Tyneside hopes, a corner of Benitez’s heart.

He said afterwards that he was ready for a good reception, but not like that. His family had not been there, he said, for superstitious reasons, and that will be unfortunate for the negotiations that Ashley had opened soon after the game’s finish.

No member of the Benitez clan would not have been moved by either the reception and the endless of singing of his name (to the tune of La Bamba) or to the response he got from a set of players who were out on their feet before his arrival at the club.

Taking Tottenham apart was the sixth successive game Newcastle have been unbeaten in. It feels like there is momentum. There certainly was during a game in which they took such control that Pochettino would call it his worst day in football management.

Mauricio Pochettino watches his Tottenham side implode at Newcastle (Getty)

The quest afterwards was to remember when Newcastle had last played so well, and no one could. Georginio Wijnaldum rounded off a fine move in the 19th minute and six minutes before half-time Moussa Sissoko crossed and Aleksandar Mitrovic planted an excellent header past Hugo Loris. It would not be Mitrovic’s most notable plant of the afternoon, having locked his left leg onto the shin of Kyle Walker in an ugly challenge. He was shown red for that, and by then Eric Lamela had scored. Spurs had life, or at least they should have had.

Instead Newcastle swept forward whenever they wanted. In the 73rd minute Sissoko won a penalty under pressure from Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen. Wijnaldum tucked it away and from there it was a case of how many Newcastle would score.

The substitute Rolando Aarons added a fourth after Andros Townsend had hit the crossbar and in the 86th minute Daryll Janmaat, on the overlap, added a fifth. The atmosphere was vociferous. Tottenham went home, according to their manager, in shame.

“First of all I would like to apologise to our fans, our team was terrible for them,” he said. “To our families too, I apologise, it’s difficult to go back to see your kids, your wife, your girlfriends, your dad - this wasn’t the team that played all season. It’s my worst day as a manager. Not just in England, in Spain, too.”

You had to remind yourself, given Newcastle's finishing league position, which manager was speaking, and it was Pochettino.

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