Spurs 2-1 Newcastle - report from the Lane
Gareth Bale continued his wonderful form and goalscoring run with a double to sink Newcastle United in a highly-entertaining game at White Hart Lane.
He struck his 12th and 13th Premier League goals of the season - and his fourth in his last three games - to secure a 2-1 win which saw us climb up to third-place, at least before this afternoon's fixtures.
Bale opened the scoring inside five minutes with a sublime free-kick and then hit the winner 12 minutes from time, after Yoan Gouffran had levelled after 24 minutes.
Andre Villas-Boas made three changes from the team which beat West Brom last Sunday, with Lewis Holtby coming in for his full and home debut and Kyle Naughton and Steven Caulker returning to the side, with Jermain Defoe, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Jan Vertonghen all making way.
The game started at a blistering pace and it was no surprise to see Bale to the fore. Just two minutes in and he was already burning down the left flank, crossing low into the danger zone but Dempsey just couldn't quite turn the ball home as the defence cleared. And three minutes later, we were ahead thanks to Bale's magnificent free-kick. Fabricio Coloccini brought down Dempsey 20 yards from goal towards the right-hand edge of the area, in the perfect position for the Welsh flyer. He certainly didn't disappoint, hitting a vicious shot that dipped wickedly over the Newcastle wall and crept just inside Tim Krul's left-hand post for 1-0.
We were well on top in the early stages, with Holtby particularly looking lively, firing over after Dembele's shot was blocked and then scuffing another effort through to Krul after a great surge out of defence from Steven Caulker.The visitors first threat on goal came on 19 minutes and what a great chance it was. Coloccini's cross found Papiss Cisse in space in the box but his header drifted wide when perhaps he should have done better. As the game ebbed and flowed, we went straight up the other end and Holtby almost doubled our lead, fizzing a shot just over the crossbar from Lennon's cutback.
After a slow start though, Newcastle were level on 24 minutes with a well-worked goal. Jonas Gutierrez's ball inside Kyle Naughton found Moussa Sissoko down the left-flank, he cut back to Gouffran just inside the area and his shot took a big deflection off Dawson and flew past Hugo Lloris.
The game then went through a period of minimal goalmouth action, Yohan Cabaye seeing a 30-yard shot deflected for a corner which came to nothing, while Dempsey dragged an effort wide and it was all square at the break.
The second period began at a much more sedate pace to the first, with few chances early on. Steven Taylor prodded an effort goalwards on 52 minutes which was comfortable for Lloris, while a minute later Dempsey tested Krul from distance but it was easy for the Magpies keeper.
A lengthy break in play for an injury to Newcastle goalscorer Gouffran further disrupted the game, but when play resumed we were back on the front foot, with Lennon and Bale both breaking into the box but unable to create clear-cut chances. We made our first change on 69 minutes when Emmanuel Adebayor entered the fray in place of Holtby for his first appearance since the goalless draw at QPR on January 12.
And we continued to have the better of the exchanges without quite getting the breaks, typified in the 75th minute when Bale broke into the area and fired a right foot shot which was blocked by Taylor and the rebound just wouldn't fall for either Adebayor or Parker in close proximity.
Newcastle were seeing less and less of the ball but still carried a threat when they did have possession, Cabaye rifling over from 22 yards but then almost out of nowhere we broke through for the second goal on 78 minutes. The ball was played up to Adebayor, but then broke loose and appeared to be heading towards Coloccini. But Bale's pace meant he was able to poke the ball past the Argentine defender and he burst away from Taylor before calmly slotting under Krul to restore our advantage.
Three minutes later it was almost 3-1 as Krul completely missed the flight of Bale's corner but Caulker headed just wide and Bale so nearly completed his hat-trick three minutes from time, once again breaking through only for Krul to this time save well, tipping his fierce shot over the bar.
Referee Phil Dowd added on seven minutes of injury time following the Gouffran and what a crazy seven minutes they were! Both sides had golden chances to score, Newcastle pushing for an equaliser while we were catching them frequently on the break.
We had to be thankful to Lloris - who had very little to do in the second half but brilliantly saved at the feet of Shola Ameobi in the 94th minute after the Newcastle striker found himself with a chance after Assou-Ekotto attempted to cut out a throughball down the Magpies right.
But we should have added a third, Jake Livermore almost scoring his first ever Premier League goal only for Coloccini to block while only Bale will know how he failed to score in the 97th minute, firing over an empty goal after Krul had saved low down. The whistle blew shortly after though…and another three points were in the bag.
Spurs (4-4-1-1): Lloris; Walker, Caulker, Dawson, Naughton (Assou-Ekotto, 74); Lennon, Dembele (Livermore, 90+3), Parker, Bale; Holtby (Adebayor, 69); Dempsey. Unused subs: Friedel, Gallas, Vertonghen, Sigurdsson.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Taylor, Santon; Cabaye, Perch (Tiote, 82); Gouffran (Marveaux, 59), Sissoko, Gutierrez (Ameobi, 86); Cisse. Unused subs: Anita, Yanga-Mbiwa, Obertan, Harper.
Yellow cards: Newcastle - Cabaye (90), Ameobi (90+7).
Goals: Spurs - Bale (5, 78). Newcastle - Gouffran (25).
Referee: Mr P Dowd.