Tottenham Hotspur open their Premier League campaign with a win at Newcastle for second year in a row

Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Dele Alli won the game for Spurs after Joselu had earlier cancelled out Jan Vertonghen's header

John Wardle
St James' Park
Saturday 11 August 2018 14:24
Dele Alli is congratulated after his winning goal
Dele Alli is congratulated after his winning goal

Tottenham Hotspur began their Premier League season exactly as they did the previous one 12 months ago with two goals and a victory at Newcastle United.

It wasn’t quite Groundhog Day, however. Tottenham conceded a goal on this occasion and Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey managed to avoid the red card that help shape the outcome a year ago.

But it was the same old story for Harry Kane, Golden Boot winner at the World Cup and a perennial slow starter as he continues to search for his first-ever Premier League goal in August.

It has always been a frustrating month for the England captain, who has now played more than 16 hours of football without hitting the target in the first month of the season.

His miscued his one chance yesterday as Tottenham were fortunate to emerge with all three points in a game when the three goals were compressed into a ten minute spell early in the opening stages.

Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli - who also scored in last season’s meeting - were on target for Spurs, while Joselu scored for Newcastle who hit the frame of the goal on two occasions and should have taken something from the game.

It was business as usual for Newcastle on and off the pitch. Off it, the game was preceded by the latest protest by supporters against the club’s owner Mike Ashley as 300 of them chanted outside his Sports Direct store in the city.

On it, Benitez startled everybody, probably including his own players, by selecting a side featuring none of his new signings apart from Martin Dubravka and Kenedy, who were both on loan at St James’ Park last season.

Jan Vertonghen gave Spurs an early lead

With Tottenham choosing not to sign anybody during the summer, all the men at involved at the start of the season were with their clubs when the previous one ended, a rarity in the recent history of a league with such a rapid turnover of players.

Ki Sung-Yeung, Fabian Schar, Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto were the new faces among the substitutes and swiftly witnessed the customary ups and downs of life at Newcastle, who were behind after only eight minutes.

The warning signs had been there as only an excellent tackle prevented Lucas Moura scoring after a mistake by Mo Diame. Then a shot from Christian Eriksen was turned aside by Dubravka for a corner which produced the opening goal.

Eriksen took it, Davinson Sanchez glanced the ball to the far post and Vertonghen’s header came down off the bar and was fractionally over the line before it was clawed away by Dubravka. It was smart work by Sanchez and Vertonghen, but the two defenders were at fault three minutes later as Newcastle levelled.

Joselu hit back for Newcastle

The pair allowed Joselu to find space between them and head in an excellent cross from Matt Ritchie to justify Benitez’s surprising decision to play him ahead of Rondon.

Newcastle were not level for long, though. Alli contributed the game’s third headed goal from Serge Aurier’s cross, taking advantage of dreadful marking and prompting an angry reaction from Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on the touchline.

The rest of the half was far more routine. Tottenham were sharper and slicker in midfield and, while they failed to test Dubravka again, restricted Newcastle to two long-range attempts from defender Paul Dummett and Ciaran Clark, both of them drifting wide, although Ayoze Perez was close to getting a touch to Clark’s effort.

Meanwhile, Kane’s August drought was extended by a further 45 minutes as the England captain was deprived of any opportunities to open his account for the season. And when he was given a glimpse of goal five minutes into the second-half, his mishit shot struck Alli and rebounded to Dubravka.

Dele Alli won the match for Tottenham

Newcastle had already gone close to an equaliser less than two minutes after the restart through Diame, who could do little right in the opening half but showed a good touch on this occasion before hammering a left foot shot against the post with Lloris beaten.

The chances continued to created at both ends. After 51 minutes, Joselu sent Kenedy clear, but his first touch was too strong and gave Lloris the chance to snatch the ball away from him - a good save that was bettered by Dubravka five minutes later as he reacted splendidly to Moussa Sissoko’s volley.

With Rondon on in place of Joselu, a frantic 15 minute ended with yet more work for Lloris, who was again alert as he reacted to a shot on the turn from Perez at the end of a spell when the Tottenham defence appeared vulnerable.

As in the first-half, a lull followed a hectic opening until Rondon went agonisingly close to marking his debut with a goal as his 85th minute shot deflected off Vertonghen and looped against the bar.

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