Match Report: Spurs vs Newcastle
Harry Kane strikes to secure Champions League qualification for Spurs next season. Pochettino’s foreword to the match was that his players must be prepared to ‘die’ to secure Champions League football. With Huddersfield battling for a point at Stamford Bridge, all Spurs needed to do was win. It wasn’t the rallying cry of passion that we have seen from Spurs in previous matches, but it was enough to achieve the requirements set out by Daniel Levy.
Pochettino reverted back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that the squad has adopted for most of the season. Favourites Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier were swapped with Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko due to illness; Alderweireld and Danny Rose were dropped to the bench.
Wembley Stadium was far from full and neither team took full control early on. The first effort came via the swinging boot of Christian Eriksen. Dubravka pushed away his challenging free kick. Perez had a similarly inviting effort a few moments later after he bullied Jan Vertonghen off the ball. He curled the ball with little power, and Lloris was able to scoop up the effort with ease.
Jonjo Shelvey provided Newcastle with their best chance of the half. In the 14th minute, Shelvey struck the post from a free kick just outside the area. Hugo jumped full stretch but wouldn’t have been able to do anything if it clipped off the post and angled in towards the net. A lucky escape for the Lilywhites. The Magpies threatened Spurs again in the 27th minute, Lascelles rose at the back post from a corner and forced Hugo Lloris to make an athletic save to keep Spurs in the game. It must be said, Newcastle looked the more threatening side as the match progressed.
After a poor 20 minutes or so, Spurs reverted to ‘route-one’ football for their best opportunity of the half. Hugo Lloris booted the ball down pitch and found Harry Kane one-on-one with Dubravka, but the England International missed the ball when he tried to convert. The problem for Spurs in the first half was strikingly obvious. There was no creativity from the Sissoko and Wanyama. The partnership did not work well, and at times it forced either Dele Alli or Eriksen back to help out, leaving Kane isolated up front. Spurs had to revert to long balls to try and create chances.
Pochettino must have had a stern word at halftime as Tottenham netted the game’s only goal five minutes after the resumption of play. For one magical movement, it was like seeing the Spurs that have been absent since the glorious win over Chelsea. Dele Alli received a forward pass from Vertonghen, turned and squared it to Harry Kane. Kane brought it across to Heung-Min Son, who managed to draw three defenders before returning the ball to Kane just inside the penalty area. Harry Kane hit the ball first time and sublimely curled it into the top right-hand corner. For all his recent criticisms, Harry Kane proved to the world that whether he is 100% fit or not, his class is most certainly permanent.
Newcastle had a chance to respond seven minutes later when Ritchie beat Ben Davies in the air, leaving Yedlin room to drive a low cross across the box. The ball came back to Ritchie for a fantastic chance on goal but he miskicked the ball and Lloris dove in to try and clear their lines. Dele Alli had a similar chance to Harry Kane with half an hour to go but his curling shot to the bottom corner was saved.
In the 72nd minute, Sanchez was left chasing Murphy down the left flank as he drilled a shot just wide of the net. He did the hard work but lacked the composure to beat Lloris. Spurs had a superb chance to double the lead in the 89th minute. Dele Alli found Lamela in acres of space. The Argentine held the ball up and passed it through to Danny Rose who found himself in a one-on-one position with the Newcastle keeper. Rose could only drill it low into the path of Dubravka. Spurs were not at their best last night but did enough to get the three points and secure themselves a qualifying spot in the Champions League next season. Depending on the Manchester United result tonight, Spurs do have an outside chance of finishing 2nd if the Red Devils lose their final two matches.
Spurs vs Newcastle Attendance
Wembley Stadium: 54,923
Starting Line-ups: Spurs vs Newcastle
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Sissoko, Wanyama, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane
Newcastle: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Diame, Shelvey, Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy, Gayle
“This type of game is impossible to have a pretty performance. We played with the pressure to win a must-win game. Against a team who played for nothing, played so deep and played counter-attack, and didn’t take risks. For us sometimes we take some rash decisions, and it was difficult to have patience and build with good actions.”
Man of the Match
The Spurs skipper led by example last night and took home the Man of the Match accolade. After a brief dip in form last month, Lloris has made some excellent saves in the last few games and has restored the fans’ faith in him. None of the outfield Spurs players gave a particularly noteworthy display, but Hugo Lloris made saves that kept Spurs alive in both halves. The score may have been quite different if he wasn’t on top form.
What’s next for Tottenham Hotspur?
Spurs will play their final game on Sunday 13th May at 3 pm along with the rest of the Premier League. They will host Leicester City at Wembley as they bid farewell to their temporary home before preparing to move into their glorious new stadium ahead of the 2018/19 season!