Jose Mourinho’s St James’ Park hoodoo is finally over, with the Spurs boss finally winning a game of football on Tyneside – albeit via some awful defending from those in black and white.
We played well at times and had enough chances to get something out of the game, but more avoidable errors and goals from Son and Kane (x2) saw Tottenham ease to victory in the end, highlighting our limitations at both ends of the field.
To make matters worse, Saint-Maximin limped off after the full time whistle and it has since been confirmed that Schar has dislocated his shoulder, leaving our patched up side with a few new concerns heading into the final week of the 2019/20 season.
Bruce made three changes from Saturday’s second half collapse at Watford, bringing in Krafth, Yedlin and Bentaleb for Lascelles (injured), Rose (ineligible) and Manquillo – who appears to have been dropped following his moment of madness last weekend.
The formation played was anyone’s guess, with Yedlin playing as a right-winger at one stage and Almiron drifting out wide just when we thought he was playing in a three-man midfield with Saint-Maximin and Gayle up top. Some suggested it was a return of five at the back, but Yedlin was playing too high and Krafth too wide to suggest the latter was at centre-back and the former at wing-back!
Onto the action itself, we started the better side. It seemed like a free for all at times, with so many players roaming from one position to the other, but it was working a treat early on. We had 62% of the ball on the 15-minute mark and could’ve been one or two up.
Almiron saw a well hit shot blocked, only to blaze over a clever Ritchie cut-back from the resultant corner, and Shelvey headed over soon affter from a brilliant cross from Ritchie once again.Spurs were giving us too much space in behind their midfield and we were exposing that well, with ASM getting in behind and Shelvey thriving from the space he was being given to create.
At the first drinks break we’d been easily the better side, seeing a reaction to Saturday’s second half collapse, however the scoreline remained all square despite us having the lions share of possession and a few good chances.
Moments after the restart and Spurs took the lead. Against the run of play, but yet another avoidable goal to concede, with Son sliding past Dubravka soon after Schar’s heavy touch see us lose possession on the edge of our box.
Spurs had looked there for the taking and second best to begin with, but the bright start we’d made had been thrown away. This goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of us for the next 15 minutes and give a previosuly poor Spurs a boost, with us suddenly struggling to get on the ball or create the openings we were early on, however we did come to life in the final few minutes of the half.
First we saw a Saint-Maximin shot flash wide and Gayle then flick a brilliant header from a Shelvey cross past a motionless Lloris and off the post! Another great ball from Jonjo and some more great movement from Gayle, but it was another nearly moment.
Plenty positives to take and an enjoyable watch, but it was yet another error that cost us. Moving on though, it did feel like it was a matter of time before we’d score against this beatable Spurs side if we kept at it.
Spurs had most of the ball from the restart, however it wasn’t long until we got ourselves back into the game. Lazaro replaced a poor Yedlin and immediately made an impact, with his driving run causing chaos in the Spurs defence and resulting in a half chance for Ritchie. He had a lot to do, but whacked a left-footed strike across goal and into the top corner past Lloris.
1-1 and finally the goal our performance had deserved.
It now felt like we could kick on and score another past a Spurs side who’d only won 3 of their last 17 away games for a reason, yet once again we shout ourselves in the foot defensively and allowed them to take the lead, this time via a Bergwijn cross that was headed home by Kane.
The ball in wasn’t pressurised and Krafth lost his man at the back post, which was partly a bad bit of defending but partly what you get when you put a right-back in the middle up against one of the Premier League’s best strikers.
We then huffed and puffed and tried to get back into it, with ASM continuing to cause problems, but we never looked the same threat after Joelinton replaced Gayle up top.
Yes we’d tired and had benefited from Lazaro coming on in Yedlin’s place, but Bruce’s decision to take off a lively Gayle didn’t make sense.
Then, with a few minutes remaining, Spurs caught us on the counter and wrapped it up with a third. Krafth was turned inside and out by Lamela and Kane then reacted quicker than Fernandez to head home the rebound at the back post.
A better performance, yet another bad day for Newcastle United where poor defending cost us dearly – no matter how much more likely we looked in attack.
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Next up, Brighton on Monday followed by our final home games of the season against the Champions next weekend.