This demonstrates how much work has to be done at Newcastle United – Takeover or no takeover
Newcastle 1 Tottenham 3 – Wednesday 15 July 6pm
Two goals from Harry Kane gave Jose Mourinho a first league win at St James Park, albeit with the stands once again lying empty.
Matt Ritchie’s rocket in the 56th minute levelled the game to bring United hope but a typical Kane header only four minutes later proved a fatal blow.
England’s number nine finished the game in the dying minutes when he perfectly timed a headed rebound, after Dubravka had denied Erik Lamela from close range.
Just when you thought the prospect of a ‘big six’ side visiting SJP might raise our performance levels, it was another sluggish, end-of-season display from those in black and white.
In truth, for the first time in the ‘project restart’ period, I thought the players truly missed a home crowd, particularly attacking the Gallowgate end in the second half.
A number of players looked devoid of both energy and ideas by the end, but this wasn’t a completely forgettable performance from the get-go, such as was the case at Manchester City seven days ago.
Chances did come. Jonjo Shelvey should have scored with a header from only a few yards out after quarter of an hour.
When Son Heung-Min did drive Spurs into the lead it was harsh on the Toon.
The first time the visitors had threatened all game, and it would have been avoided if Fabian Schar cleared his box, rather than try dribbling the ball out.
What has happened to one of the players of last season I am not sure. He may be a less technical defender but you would not see Jamal Lascelles make that type of error.
As at Watford on Saturday we appeared to be the creators of our own downfall, but Dwight Gayle nearly levelled instantly, only to see his header bounce back off the post after a superb cross from Shelvey.
It was an odd performance from Gayle. At times threatening, often too content with standing offside or letting the play pass him by.
Shelvey appeared back on his game tonight, but too often the combination play between himself, Saint-Maximin and Almiron, was loose and overly complex.
ASM again produced some stunning runs but lacked the cutting edge we saw at Bournemouth.
Creating chances was not an issue. Losing concentration was.
Also the lack of protection on the defence – we look far easier to break down when Issac Hayden is not out there. The quicker he returns the better.
Bentaleb and Shelvey had good moments but United were unable to control the midfield.
Ex-mag Sissoko meanwhile was irritatingly effective, however, one clearance he made ran straight to Ritchie who smashed the ball into the top corner, giving Lloris no chance.
It was well deserved for Matt, our best player on the night, who put in a tireless shift on the left-flank and produced moments of quality to match.
At this point Bruce’s men were sniffing another battling home win, only for the defence to switch off.
Kane peeled off the centre-backs far too easily and gave Dubravka no chance. A second sucker punch at a time when we had the better of the game.
The response was disappointing. In stages of each of the last three games we have looked ‘on the beach’ already.
Perhaps this is to be expected. We managed to achieve survival quicker than most would have thought earlier in the season.
Equally, Bruce should be disappointed at how badly we faded in the last half an hour. Chances began to dry up and Lloris was rarely troubled.
Joelinton was brought on for Gayle, offering one or two neat touches, but never looked like recreating his heroic moment from the reverse fixture (that now feels like a lifetime ago).
Matty Longstaff got little more than six minutes on the field. Nothing since the restart has suggested he will be staying beyond the final game.
United did put more bodies forward and show a little life in the final minutes. Lazaro in particular looked lively and nearly levelled but his quickfire shot arrowed into the side netting.
With the extra numbers in the Spurs half we were more open to the counter attack. Indeed it was a classic breakaway that led to the clincher, with United stretched and Dubravka unable to keep up heroics.
There was only time left for Schar to go on another extravagant run, ending in him losing possession and picking up an injury in the process.
With that, the whistle was blown and Mourinho left NE1 with three Premier League points for the first time.
Spurs in truth were nowhere near their best. Yet they still managed to win and score three goals in the process.
It may just be end of season fatigue, but for many followers of our club, the last three games have demonstrated how much work has to be done in the summer, takeover or no takeover.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Tottenham 3 – Wednesday 15 July 6pm
Son 27, Kane 60, 90
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Tottenham 47% (51%) Newcastle 53% (49%)
Total shots were Tottenham 8 (4) Newcastle 22 (12)
Shots on target were Tottenham 5 (2) Newcastle 6 (3)
Corners were Tottenham 4 (3) Newcastle 5 (4)
Referee: David Coote
Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Schar, Yedlin (Lazaro 55), Shelvey, Bentaleb (Matty Longstaff 86), Almiron, Ritchie, Gayle (Joelinton 69), Saint-Maximin
Darlow, Muto, Manquillo, Atsu, T. Allan, J. Young.
(Jermaine Jenas joins lunatic fringe: ‘Steve Bruce has come in and shown he can do a better job’ – Read HERE)
Another false dawn as Steve Bruce makes it only 4 wins in 18 games after Newcastle 1 Tottenham 3 – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 1 Tottenham 3 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Wednesday’s defeat – Read HERE)
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