Kane drags Spurs over finishing line

Tottenham 1 Newcastle 0

Harry Kane

They may have resembled a long-distance runner stumbling over the line, but Tottenham are guaranteed to start life in their new stadium in the Champions League next season.

Harry Kane has exemplified the late season tiredness that has clearly been affecting Tottenham since their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester United three weeks ago.

But the striker summoned one moment of magic five minutes into the second half to score the game’s only goal and with Chelsea being held at home by Huddersfield, it means Tottenham can not now be caught.

The win also took Mauricio Pochettino’s men above Liverpool into third place, and they could even catch Manchester United for second.

But for much of this game, as in recent weeks, it looked like Spurs had run out of ideas as much as legs after a long hard season.

Newcastle had little to play for, having eased their relegation fears already, but they could have been ahead at half time, so poor were Spurs.

Most alarming for Tottenham and England supporters, for the first 45 minutes Harry Kane looked a pale shadow of the man who was bullying the best defenders in the world not long ago.

The big striker has not appeared 100% fit since rushing back from an ankle injury five weeks ago. Kane notoriously takes time to hit his groove, which may explain why he hasn’t scored for Totttenham in the opening month of the past three seasons.

He had one half-chance early on, taking possession on the edge of the Newcastle penalty area but failing to find space for a shot. Shortly before half-time he misjudged an attempted volley as the ball sat up invitingly, and it was almost embarrassing to see him fluff his lines so badly.

And with their cutting weapon blunted, Spurs struggled to make headway against a Newcastle side who were happy to sit deep with two banks of four, just occasionally breaking on the counter.

And it almost worked for them. Ayoze Perez hustled Jan Vertonghen off the ball but shot tamely at Hugo Lloris, Jonjo Shelvey shaved the ouside of a post with a free-kick, and Lloris then had to fling himself across goal to make a marvellopus save from Jamaal Lascelles thumpng header.

Spurs were on the ropes, despite dominating possession, and should have gone behind when Gayle had a free header from six yards but put the ball over the bar.

Five minutes before half-time the former Crystal Palace striker looked to be in again but shot straight at Lloris. Martin Dubravka, in the opposing goal, had been rarely troubled in the first-half, save for a long shot from Vertonghen and a blistering free-kick from Christian Eriksen that the keeper topped over the bar.

As the half time whistle blew, there were pockets of booing from the home supporters and Pochettino might have tempted to make changes. Spurs looked listless, short of energy and ideas, and it was plainly not working.

But the manager stuck to his guns, sent out the same eleven, and was rewarded with a goal within five minutes of the restart. Kane took a cross in his stride on the edge of the penalty area, played it to the right where Heung Min Son was waiting, and when the Korean returned the ball, the England striker curled it first time into the top corner of goal.

It was a rare moment of composure and quality from Tottenham and Kane, who took his tally of Premier League goals to 28, three short of Liverpool’s Mo Salah, the leading scorer in the division.

For the next period Spurs looked like their old selves, as the goal lifted them.

Vertonghen had a volley well saved, Victor Wanyama headed over from close range, and Dele Alli had a shot saved.

There was little else to excite in the remaining minutes as Spurs showed enough nous to wind down the clock, and the final whistle was greeted with a chorus of delight.

TOTTENHAM:

Lloris 7; Trippier 6 (Alderweireld 83), Sanchez 8, Vertonghen 7, Davies 6; Sissoko 6, Wanyama 7 (Rose 89); Eriksen 7, Alli 6, Son 6 (Lamela 77); Kane 7.

NEWCASTLE:

Dubravka 8; Yedlin 6, Lascelles 8, Lejeune 6, Dummett 6; Richie 6, Diame 7, Shelvey 7 Ayoze Perez 6, Kenedy 6 Murphy 71; Gayle 5 Joselu 77.

Referee:

Neil Swarbrick.


Related Articles

All the team news for the opening weekend of the Premier League

Mauricio Pochettino: Spurs may miss transfer targets


Lifestyle

7 of the most head-scratching crimes of fashion committed in 2018

Child’s love for Mary Poppins: UK children's Laureate breaks down the iconic nanny's reboot

Stepping out of the shade: Choose colour for this years festive partywear

More From The Irish Examiner