Harry Kane nets winner against Newcastle United to guarantee top-four finish for Tottenham Hotspur
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Newcastle United 0
Harry Kane scored the only goal of the game at Wembley Stadium to hand Tottenham Hotspur a vital 1-0 win over Newcastle United which guaranteed their spot in the Champions League next season.
The forward found the net in the 50th minute and it was enough to ensure Spurs will be in the top four again after Huddersfield Town shocked Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and earned a 1-1 draw in west London.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team weren’t at their best and it was a tense night at their temporary Brent venue, but come full time there were scenes of jubilation as it sunk in Champions League football will be played at the new White Hart Lane in 2018/19.
Given the Wembley factor, it is a superb achievement by the Lilywhites and one worth celebrating, especially after a frustrating couple of weeks.
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Pochettino made three changes to the team which lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Erik Lamela all dropped to the bench with the Spurs manager placing faith in Ben Davies, Mousa Sissoko and Heung-min Son.
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After fielding a 3-4-2-1 at the Hawthorns, Tottenham reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 system at Wembley, but the inclusion of Sissoko had tongues wagging.
The last time the Frenchman had started for Spurs was the 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion where his central midfield partner on that evening was Victor Wanyama, the same as tonight.
Rather than deciding to drop Christian Eriksen into that position and use the pace and trickery of Lamela or Lucas Moura in the attacking areas, Pochettino had put his faith in Sissoko and it was a big call from the Argentinean.
The only thing in favour of the versatile midfielder was the fact he was up against his old team and he was, predictably, booed by the Newcastle following before kick-off.
It was the visitors who got proceedings underway at the national stadium and the home faithful seemed in good voice from the off.
Spurs started on the front foot with Son, Kane and Christian Eriksen involved in the opening exchanges and the atmosphere much better than the previous game here against Watford on April 30.
Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka had yet to be tested with nine minutes played, but that changed in the 10th minute when Kenedy fouled Wanyama in a dangerous position around 22-yards from goal.
Eriksen stepped up and swung the ball towards Newcastle’s net, but Dubravka was there to claw away and keep the score goalless.
Tottenham had began brightly, but they were given a warning sign in the 11th minute when Ayoze Perez barged Vertonghen off the ball and fired towards goal.
It was routine for Hugo Lloris, but Spurs were understandably furious no foul had been awarded for what seemed a blatant shove.
The opportunity boosted Rafa Benitez’s team and they began to enjoy their best spell of the match so far.
Newcastle managed to create another chance in the 14th minute when Vertonghen’s poor header gifted ex-Dagenham & Redbridge forward Dwight Gayle the ball in a good position just outside the area.
Just as Gayle was about to pull the trigger, Sissoko came in with a clumsy challenge to give the Magpies an excellent chance around 20-yards-out.
Both Matt Richie and Jonjo Shelvey eyed up the set-piece and it was the latter who took it, and much to the surprise of everyone, it hit the post and went wide.
The Tottenham fans inside Wembley breathed a huge sigh of relief and with 14 on the clock, it was still 0-0, but the visitors had let the best opportunity of the night to date go begging.
Nerves amongst the home faithful began to increase with every misplaced pass and the feeling of tenseness was starting to affect the players too.
An image of Pochettino with his hands on his hips midway through the first half after another poor forward ball seemed apt as the Newcastle supporters continued to enjoy their visit to the capital.
It was not exactly going to plan with 25 minutes gone and a miscued effort by Wanyama following an Eriksen corner added to the growing frustration inside the ground.
Two minutes later and it was nearly even worst when Davinson Sanchez sliced his clearance out for a corner and Richie took it short to Shelvey and his centre was met by Jamaal Lascelles, but his header was superb pushed wide by Hugo Lloris.
It was a stunning save with the Frenchman at full stretch, but two minutes later and he should have been picking the ball out of the back of his net.
Perez was given too much space down the right and crossed in for Gayle, who was free and six-yards-out, but he headed over and another guilt-edged opportunity had been wasted by the visitors.
After a few big wake up calls, Tottenham began to rediscover their groove and all of their attacking play was predictably going through Eriksen.
He was involved in the 32nd minute when his deep cross found Kane, but the forward dragged his volley wide and it actually went to Kieran Trippier by the corner flag.
Two minutes later and Vertonghen tried his luck from range, but his 35-yarder was comfortable enough for Dubravka.
Momentum was quickly killed, however, when Trippier was flagged offside for the second time on the right despite only having to look across the line.
Spurs continued to press and probe and earned a decent opportunity six minutes before half time when Gayle fouled Eriksen around 35-yards-out.
Kane stepped up to take the effort and fooled everyone by passing out to Trippier and this time he was onside and his delivery was good, but Sissoko headed into the ground and Newcastle’s goalkeeper grabbed the loose ball comfortably.
Less than 60 seconds later and a dramatic passage of play occurred when Moahamed Diame won the ball back deep inside Spurs’ half and chipped into Gayle’s path, and he controlled impressively, but his shot lacked power and was simple for Lloris.
Tottenham’s goalkeeper wasted little time once he had saved the effort as his long kick set Kane away and with Dubravka indecisive, the forward had the chance to score, but scuffed his kick completely and the Magpies custodian gratefully saved.
It was another wasted chance and after some more moves broke down, referee Neil Swarbrick brought the first 45 to an end with some fans booing as the players left the Wembley pitch.
What helped the mood at the break was the news Huddersfield had scored to take the lead at Stamford Bridge with the Chelsea game with the Terriers kicking-off quarter of an hour earlier than Tottenham’s.
Spurs got the second period underway and it didn’t take long for the Lilywhites crowd to get into fine voice again in an attempt to help them open the scoring.
Tension was still present inside Wembley, but in the 50th minute a lot of relief was felt all around the national stadium as the hosts broke the deadlock.
Dele Alli, Kane and Son all exchanged passes and Son teed up Kane, who curled beyond Dubravka for his 28th league goal of the campaign.
It felt like a big moment for Tottenham and their star forward and it occurred just as Chelsea equalised against Huddersfield.
Spurs scented blood now and pushed for a second and an unlikely source nearly came up with it in the 54th minute when Trippier’s crossfield pass picked out Vertonghen, but his first-time volley was parried away from goal by Dubravka.
Less than 60 seconds later and Eriksen’s corner found Wanyama, yet he headed over and the advantaged remained at one.
The game suddenly became end-to-end and Newcastle squandered another excellent opening in the 58th minute when former Spurs full-back DeAndre Yedlin got forward on the right and crossed into the area.
Dummett picked up the loose ball and passed into to Perez, but he miscued his effort and it rolled for Richie.
Lloris went to ground and looked to catch the Newcastle attacker, but as the ball went behind a corner was awarded.
It was the start of a frantic period as Kenedy tested Tottenham’s goalkeeper from range minutes later before Alli was denied by Dubravka following a Sissoko pass in the 63rd minute.
After an action-packed few minutes, the pace of the game slowed as we reached the halfway point of the second half.
Benitez made his first change with 19 minutes left when he introduced Jacob Murphy for the lacklustre Kenedy.
It almost worked straight away as Murphy skinned Sanchez and ran into the area, but when presented with only Lloris to beat, he blazed high and wide.
Newcastle had created plenty of opportunities, but had not taken them and as the game entered it’s the final quarter of an hour it remained 1-0 to Spurs.
More substitutions were made as Joselu replaced Gayle and Lamela was introduced for Son with 13 minutes keft.
Trippier then needed treatment with 79 on the clock after Diame swiped at his leg in an attempt to get onto a loose ball in the Spurs area.
The full-back tried to continue, but had to be replaced a few minutes later and it gave Pochettino the chance to introduce Alderweireld – potentially for one last time.
Tottenham supporters clapped and applauded the substitution and gave the Belgium a huge cheer as he entered the field.
Another massive uproar from the Lilywhites faithful took place seconds later when news of the result at Stamford Bridge filtered through.
Chelsea had been held to a 1-1 draw by Huddersfield and so Spurs knew a win would guarantee them a top-four finish.
More drama was in store as Wanyama went down next and needed to come off so Rose replaced him and lined up in the centre of midfield.
He should have put the game to bed on the stroke of full time when Lamela controlled Alli’s pass and played the full-back through, but Dubravka saved to step up a nervy finale at Wembley.
The fourth official signalled for five minutes of stoppage time, but Spurs managed to keep the ball well and hold on for the three points which guaranteed a top-four finish.
Regardless of what happens on the final day of the season, the lowest Tottenham can now finish is fourth and it is mission accomplished for Pochettino and his players.
After a mixed couple of weeks, this was the perfect response from Spurs and put to bed any notions they could ‘bottle’ their spot in the Champions League for next season.
Tottenham could actually end the campaign in third now if they can defeat Leicester City on Sunday and that would cap a very fine season given the Wembley factor.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier (Alderweireld 83), Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Wanyama (Rose 87), Sissoko; Eriksen, Alli, Son (Lamela 77); Kane
Unused substitutes: Vorm, Llorente, Foyth, Moura
Newcastle United: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame; Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy (Murphy 71); Gayle (Joselu 76).
Unused substitutes: Darlow, Hayden, Manquillo, Merino, Haidara.
Attendance: 54, 923.