Tottenham Hotspur defeated Newcastle United 3-1 at St. James' Park on Sunday. Harry Kane scored his 30th goal in all competitions, while Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli also scored to send Toon to their sixth consecutive defeat.
The match was played under shadows of a couple kinds. The beautiful north England day produced gorgeous shadows of the St. James' Park roof on the pitch, but the attendance was down between 10-12,000 people after the #boycottspurs protest kept many of the Toon faithful at home in protest of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.
Tottenham started with a shuffled lineup: Ryan Mason was relegated to the bench in favor of Paulinho, who started in the pivot beside Nabil Bentaleb. Andros Townsend was also benched for Erik Lamela. With Kyle Walker still recovering from injury, Eric Dier started at right back with DeAndre Yedlin his deputy on the bench. Michel Vorm again got the start while Hugo Lloris continues to convalesce.
The first half started out wary and cautious as both teams seemed to feel each other out in the early goings. Spurs had the majority of the possession and Newcastle seemed content to not press them high up the pitch.
Tottenham opened the scoring midway through the half courtesy of Nacer Chadli. Chadli picked up a loose ball 15 yards within Newcastle's half, and after nobody marked him fired a 25 yard blast that skipped past Tim Krul and into the net. It was a nice shot and skipped just in front of Krul, but the Newcastle goalkeeper is probably wishing he had that one back.
Harry Kane nearly scored in the 44th minute but his close-range shot was parried away by Krul. Just a minute later, Lamela picked up a yellow card late in the half after a silly foul on Newcastle's Vernon Anita. The first half ended 1-0.
The second half didn't start well. Jack Colback equalized for Toon in hilarious fashion just 20 seconds into the second half after a complete Spurs defensive breakdown. The goal began with a Chadli give-away in midfield. It was an eerie parallel to the first match in October between the two sides; Spurs led 1-0 after the first half but conceded within 18 seconds of the second half whistle en route to a 2-1 defeat.
The lead didn't last long, though -- Eriksen had a free kick just outside the box on the left side. His free-kick took a bounce just in front of Krul and bounced past him. Half the Spurs team was looking to get on the end of that ball, and all of them were in an offside position, but nobody touched the ball and the goal stood.
Spurs sensed blood in the water and started pressing their advantage. Spurs had numerous opportunities to widen their lead but wasn't able to score, and none were closer than when Kane fired a rocket of a shot in the 68th minute off of a Paulinho corner that was just parried away by Krul. The ball was just inches from a goal, but Newcastle managed to scurry it clear. On TV it certainly looked like it crossed the line, but the goal-line technology said no goal.
Kane finally broke through just before full time. While Newcastle were committing men forward in order to snatch a last-gasp equalizer, Spurs broke through on the counter. Kane was all alone against Krul and cooly slotted the ball home to score his 30th goal of the season. Kane is the first 30 goal striker for Tottenham since Gary Lineker scored 35 goals back in 1992.
The match ended at 3-1.
- I really, really wanted Erik Lamela to be good today. He was not good today and was terrible in the first half. But he did put forth his usual amount of effort, and was improved in the second half, which are points in his favor.
- I think Premier League teams have more or less figured out Harry Kane, but he still finds a way to score goals. He got his 30th today, and it was a clinical finish. Congrats, Harry.
- Nabil Benteleb had a fantastic game today, which is encouraging since he hasn't played well for a few.
- Paulinho was more than just inoffensive beside Bentaleb. He had a few nice forward runs, but was defensively solid and didn't make any major mistakes. I kind of want him to start more matches over Mason here at the end.
- Quote from the writer's room: "I think more teams should put us under no pressure in midfield. We look really fun."
- It wasn't always pretty, but it's a win. Spurs are back in sixth, a point above Southampton and tied with Liverpool (though they have a game in hand).