Spurs 2 Newcastle 0: Wide men on target as 10-man Tottenham do it again
Tottenham 2 Newcastle 0
TOTTENHAM’S wingmen struck the killer blows on Tuesday night as 10-man Spurs emerged victorious from a bad-tempered game.
Aaron Lennon broke the deadlock with his second goal of the season shortly before the hour-mark, but any hopes of a comfortable victory were dashed as Spurs were reduced to 10 men for the second time in 48 hours.
Jermain Defoe had been sent off two days previously at Villa Park, and this time it was Younes Kaboul who saw red in the 65th minute for butting Cheik Tiote as the pair went head to head in an off-the-ball altercation.
Sebastien Bassong was immediately introduced as the Lilywhites sought to hang on to another three points, but victory was effectively assured with nine minutes left as Gareth Bale finished a quick break upfield and doubled Tottenham’s lead.
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Harry Redknapp made just one change to the side that had beaten Aston Villa on Boxing Day, with Roman Pavlyuchenko replacing the suspended Defoe in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The tone for a physical encounter was set early on as Michael Dawson and Andy Carroll met in a series of shuddering aerial challenges, with Newcastle aiming a succession of high balls towards their muscular centre-forward.
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Dawson’s success in that duel meant that the Magpies offered precious little threat to Heurelho Gomes while, at the other end, Spurs struggled to break down their visitors.
The match finally came to life after 25 minutes as Carroll sent a looping header onto the roof of the net, before Bale hared into the penalty box but saw his low cross from the by-line brilliantly blocked by the sliding Alan Smith.
Rafael van der Vaart tested Tim Krul with a long-range free kick but Spurs’ hearts were in their mouths on a couple of occasions as Wilson Palacios repeatedly lost possession inside his own half.
Tiote dispossessed the careless Honduran in the 33rd minute and drew a low save from Gomes and, five minutes later, Palacios was booked after scuffing a pass to Carroll and bringing the striker down from behind in a desperate bid to halt his progress towards goal.
There had been little for the home fans to cheer in the first half, but they were left with their hands on their heads at the interval as Spurs wasted two gilt-edged chances in injury-time.
Van der Vaart failed to get an adequate touch on a header from six yards, and when Alan Hutton sent the ball back into the box, Krul palmed Pavlyuchenko’s header onto the post, before watching as the ball bounced across the goalmouth and onto the other upright.
Redknapp replaced the hapless Palacios with Jermaine Jenas at the break and Tottenham took the lead in the 57th minute as Kaboul advanced into midfield and played the ball wide to Lennon, who raced into the area and sent a low shot fizzing past Krul with the aid of a deflection off left-back James Perch.
Moments later a Smith challenge on Bale caused uproar on the field and in the technical area, as Spurs’ first-team coach Joe Jordan confronted Alan Pardew and then the visitors’ goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman.
Redknapp was forced to intervene as the aggressive posturing continued, and seven minutes later the Spurs boss was rueing another loss of temper, as Kaboul was shown a straight red card after a spat with Tiote.
“It was stupid of Younes, a lack of discipline,” said the Tottenham manager. “You’re 1-0 up, so why go and do something like that? He has to learn but I’m disappointed in him today. [With Jermain Defoe], that’s two key players we will miss now for important games.”
Tottenham shuffled their pack, with Bassong replacing Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch entering the fray in place of Van der Vaart, and the moves paid off as Spurs resisted the Newcastle pressure and created chances on the break.
Jenas put Lennon through on goal again and, although the winger this time fired narrowly across goal, it proved not to matter as Bale struck two minutes later from the other flank.
The sublime Luka Modric, undoubtedly the man of the match, won the ball on the edge of his own box and broke into Newcastle’s half before freeing Bale, who jinked outside Steven Taylor and lashed the ball low past Krul.
The Magpies went close late on but Gomes saved Carroll’s header from a corner, and Bale and Modric both headed the ball off the line in injury-time to ensure a rare clean sheet, and another victory for Tottenham.