Tottenham Hotspur can't be too shattered about a draw away to St. James' Park, but they'll be left wondering what could have been after a 2-2 draw with Newcastle United. Spurs earned a couple of goals, but were not at their best on the night and a scoring draw was almost certainly a fair result for both teams that reflected the play on the pitch, though Newcastle had all of the chances at the end.
Tottenham started with Luka Modric on the left and Gareth Bale on the right, with Rafael van der Vaart playing his preferred central position behind Emmanuel Adebayor. Bale was ineffective early in this role, but Spurs looked good on the other side. Benoit Assou-Ekotto's ability and Gabriel Obertan's lack thereof allowed Modric to come inside without the team losing much of anything. However, Bale was so ineffective on the right that a change had to be made, and he was moved to the left wing in the 25th minute.
Spurs had the better of the play in the opening few minutes, but Newcastle central midfielders Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye started to take over as the half went on, and from the 20th minute to almost the 40th minute, Newcastle were the far superior team and a bit unlucky not to create any clear-cut chances. For this stretch of play, Spurs were dire.
Ledley King picked up an injury in the 30th minute, requiring him to be replaced by Sebastien Bassong. As is always the case with King's injuries, the extent is not known. He could very easily be back in a week or be done for his career.
The game changed in the 39th minute, thanks to a bad mistake from Newcastle defender Steven Taylor. Out of absolutely nothing, Adebayor won a penalty when he was running onto a ball - running away from goal, no less - and was hacked down needlessly by Taylor. Newcastle fans won't be happy that Adebayor embellished the contact, but the penalty was a stonewaller and there will be no argument with referee Lee Probert's decision. Van der Vaart stepped up and converted the penalty, sending Spurs into the locker room up 1-0 at halftime.
It didn't take long for Newcastle to equalize in the second half, and their goal was well deserved after their first half play. Demba Ba was the scorer, and the goal was practically gifted to the Magpies through some abysmal defending. Jonas Gutierrez easily blew by both Luka Modric and Kyle Walker on the left side before crossing to Ba, who went by Jake Livermore and Assou-Ekotto entirely unmarked before putting in a free header to make it 1-1.
Emmanuel Adebayor almost produced a brilliant answer in the 53rd minute, but his effort sailed just wide of the post. The way the tempo picked up right after the goal, it was obvious that neither side was content with a draw and that both were very much looking to find a winner. Obertan quickly produced a good chance for Newcastle as well, hitting a hard shot just wide of Brad Friedel's far post on the 56th minute.
Rafael van der Vaart is known as the 60-minute man in a bit of a running joke, and he lived up to the moniker in this one, getting subbed out in the 64th minute for Jermain Defoe. Usually when van der Vaart exits in this situation it's because he's obviously a bit fatigued, but he didn't look particularly tied when he came off and looked a bit frustrated with the management as he walked off the pitch. Honestly, it's tough to blame him...but Harry Redknapp's substitution paid off.
In the 67th minute, with one of his first touches of the ball, Jermain Defoe fired Tottenham Hotspur in front with a viscous strike from the edge of the penalty area. Jermain Defoe looked like a lost cause during last season, but he looked like the Defoe of 2009 and earlier on this one, muscling through traffic before firing a bullet past Tim Krul at his far post from 18 yards out.
Newcsatle made an attacking change at fullback in the 77th minute, handing former Inter Milan man Davide Santon a substitute appearance as they chased down an equalizer. Santon fell out of favor at Inter before moving the Newcastle, but he was immense as a teenager and likely has a great career ahead of him. He wasn't directly involved in any goals for Newcastle, but the game changed when he entered.
Brad Friedel produced an absolutely excellent save in the 81st minute, keeping Spurs in front. At the end of a wonderful flowing move from Newcastle, Obertan laid off a ball for Tiote, who took a vicious shot from 25 yards out. Friedel just barely got his hand up to tip the ball over the bar, and fortunately for them, nothing came out of the ensuing corner kick.
Friedel had to make yet another save just a couple of minutes later, as Newcastle won a direct free kick. Ryan Taylor curled in a shot from 30 yards away, but the American palmed the ball away comfortably.
Newcastle found their equalizer, though, thanks to substitute Shola Ameobi. In the 86th minute, the Newcastle lifer found himself free on the left side of the penalty area with the ball at his feet, then hit an absolutely brilliant powerful shot past Friedel at his far post.
Jermain Defoe nearly snatched a winner and completed a brace in the 88th, but Krul made a fantastic save, then barely saved an own goal off of the head of one of his own defenders on the rebound.
Fabricio Coloccini and Shola Ameobi had a chance to win the match for Newcastle on a corner kick in stoppage time, but they somehow failed to finish three fantastic close-range opportunities during a mad scramble. Tottenham's defending was questionable at best from when Ledley King exited to the end, and they might feel fortunate to only let in two.
Newcastle's final opportunity came in the 95th minute, as Lee Probert denied calls for a handball in the box by Tottenham. Honestly, they might have had a legitimate case.
Tottenham will feel fortunate to walk away from this match with a draw, but at least they didn't lose ground on rivals Liverpool, who drew with Manchester United. In any event, they were not at their best, and this is the type of match that teams aspiring to qualify for Champions League have to win.