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Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 1 Newcastle United: VAR steals a Tottenham win in stoppage time

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Tottenham did everything right, but the universe (read: VAR) had other plans in mind.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Tottenham received Newcastle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium looking to keep up the league momentum created by last week’s 5 - 2 win away at Southampton, and they nearly did so with a powerful first half and a muted second. Lucas Moura’s effort looked to be the only goal of a game that showed Spurs’s potential before they settled into a restful pace amidst a busy run of matches, but at the last gasp, a preposterous VAR intervention gifted Callum Wilson a penalty kick, which he converted to steal a point.

Spurs started once again with the center back pairing of Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier, while Matt Doherty was picked at right back and Ben Davies at left back under the gaze of soon-to-be challenger Sergio Reguilon. Hugo Lloris resumed starting duties after Joe Hart’s debut at goalkeeper in the midweek Europa League trip. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks played in central midfield behind a fluid attack of Heung-min Son, Giovani Lo Celso, Harry Kane, and Lucas Moura. The forwards were flexible, particularly Son, Kane, and Lo Celso, whose horizontal moves confused the Newcastle defense and opened up ample room to shoot. Ex-Bournemouth man Callum Wilson led the line for Newcastle and loomed largest on paper among likely threats from opposition players, while goalkeeper Karl Darlow sought to revive Tim Krul’s habit of playing his best games against Tottenham.

Newcastle set up to defend, but early opportunities from Harry Kane showed there was a way in for Spurs. Tottenham did indeed spend much of the first half on the front foot, with Kane, Dier, and Son finding good opportunities in addition to Lucas’s opening goal in the 24th minute. Heading into half time at 1 - 0, the only complaint from a Spurs perspective was not scoring more of the opportunities granted by an ineffective Newcastle defense. The second half was timid from both sides, with Spurs unable to add to their lead and Newcastle unable to do much at all until a chance deflection in stoppage time enabled Callum WIlson to make it 1 - 1. There’s nothing you can do about a call like that, but had Spurs converted one of their many opportunities, it at least wouldn’t have stung as much.

First Half

8’ — Hojbjerg plays in an inch-perfect cross to the head of Harry Kane, whose effort is on target but saved by Karl Darlow. The pass is reminiscent of something Christian Eriksen might do.

24’ — 1 - 0 Tottenham! Goaaaaaaall Lucas Moura. Son receives the ball outside of the Newcastle penalty area and plays it down the line to Kane in a reversal of the pair’s typical positions. Kane has Lo Celso and Lucas rushing into the box and finds Lucas at the far post with a precise low pass. It’s a tap-in earned well by a sudden burst of speed by Lucas to beat defender Matt Ritchie to the ball.

26’ — Two more chances for Spurs as Son is closed down on a break and Kane forces a fingertip save from Karl Darlow on the following corner.

30’ — Ugh! Son is denied by the post after a sharp shot at the edge of the Newcastle penalty area. So far, so good from a Spurs perspective.

33’ — Heung-min Son picks out Dier in space from a corner for what should be a second goal, but Dier just directs the ball too enthusiastically toward the corner and it runs just wide.

37’ — Eric Dier positions well to head away a long ball toward Callum Wilson. He has looked better today at center back, although that’s perhaps due to a tepid Newcastle attack.

41’ — Son’s denied by the woodwork for the second time today, on an effort from a similar location as the first but this time a high shot seeking the underside of the crossbar. It is just an inch too high and it ricochets harmlessly away.

42’ — Good news for those who bet on Jonjo Shelvey to earn a yellow card today. He’s the first to enter the book for a crunching tackle from behind on Giovani Lo Celso, who seems to be up and alright.

47’ — Jonjo Shelvey has the final effort of the half and one of Newcastle’s first, receiving the ball out of a scramble in the Tottenham penalty area and shooting wide.

HALF TIME

Second Half

45’ — Substitution: Heung-min Son is off for Steven Bergwijn. Perhaps just giving Son a rest; perhaps he’s got a knock. Either way, it’s nice to have enough squad depth to take Son off at half-time without having to call up a ball-boy to fill out the eleven.

58’ — Tottenham’s attack has slowed and Newcastle’s has picked up in the first fifteen minutes of the second half, with not much to report on either end of the pitch.

66’ — Matt Ritchie is down after a hard collision with Matt Doherty caused him to land hard on his shoulder.

68’ — Substitution: Jamal Lewis replaces Matt Ritchie after the left back receives a few minutes’ treatment on the pitch.

74’ — Substitution: Jeff Hendrick leaves the pitch for Newcastle and is replaced by Jacob Murphy.

76’ — Substitution: Tanguy Ndombele replaces Giovani Lo Celso for Spurs, a welcome introduction for the Frenchman after a half’s rest following his 90 minutes in midweek.

77’ — Substitution: Miguel Almirón is off for Newcastle, replaced by Andy Carroll. Tottenham have dulled the frenzy of Newcastle’s earlier attacks in the half and at the moment are content to hold the ball up in the opposing half.

78’ — Substitution: Erik Lamela replaces Lucas Moura.

81’ — Doherty just flicks the ball past Jamal Lewis and runs into Lewis’s arm just outside the Norwich penalty area. Lewis receives a yellow, but Spurs will have to content themselves with a free kick rather than a penalty.

83’ — Lamela goes for goal from the Spurs free kick with a powerful curling effort, but he’s denied by another great save from Karl Darlow.

88’ — Davies nearly ricochets his clearance off of Hojbjerg into his own net. Nervy stuff, but all’s well that ends well.

93’ — VAR: Penalty to Newcastle. An Andy Carroll header on a free kick a minute ago led to the ball glancing off of the back of Eric Dier’s arm while he jumped. This is a bit ridiculous, as the clock ticks towards the 95th minute before the penalty is finally awarded.

96’ — Goal. 1 - 1 Newcastle. Callum Wilson converts the penalty as Lloris guesses the right way. Mourinho marches into the changing room.

FULL TIME

Takeaways:

  • With the fickle nature of VAR these days, a 1 - 0 lead is even less secure. Spurs need to start building a buffer for the kind of absurd intervention that stole a win today.
  • Ndombele only played about twenty minutes, but he continues to delight with surprise skill moves and the most precise passing at Spurs.
  • Son paid on-field tribute to Spurs’ new old signing with two classic Bale efforts in the first half, nudging the ball into space at the edge of the box and firing in the split second before the defense caught up.
  • Tottenham looked shakiest when defending set pieces, a definite area of improvement as the team settles into the season.
  • Newcastle were pretty lackluster throughout, so it’s hard to get too excited, but Spurs did seem to be gaining some momentum that might carry them through the busy schedule ahead.