Bale ensures Spurs conquer and go fourth
This started off as a "messy game", according to Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, and ended up as a 'Messi' game, with Gareth Bale scoring yet another in his breathtaking repertoire of fantasy goals to help propel his side into fourth place ahead of Chelsea.
It was worthy of the little maestro of Barcelona. But Spurs also possess their own magician in Luka Modric.
"Amazing," said Redknapp of the Croatian's courageous performance and he was right, especially as Modric, all 5ft 7in of him and barely 10 stone, was faced with the spiky aggression of a midfield trio consisting of Alan Smith, Joey Barton and Cheik Tiote.
A pretty uncompromising bunch, but one which was bypassed by the pace of Bale and Aaron Lennon, Spurs' other goalscorer. It is some weapon.
"That was the difference between the two sides," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. "That electric pace that Tottenham have can undo even the most disciplined of back fours."
Newcastle's back four was, however, disrupted by the absence of left-back Jose Enrique, who annoyed Pardew by announcing on his Twitter account that he was injured.
There is certainly a lot of twitter around Spurs at present. No longer is Redknapp's trumpeting of his side's potential being laughed off as a motivational boast. Spurs are genuine contenders. For the top four certainly and, yes, why not the league title itself?
Just like at Villa Park on St Stephen's Day they ended this bruising, bad-tempered, highly competitive encounter with 10 men and drew on reserves of growing belief to subdue a well-organised Newcastle team who flooded the midfield and broke up Spurs' play.
It has been a hard sequence for Pardew since he took over. Three games -- one win, two defeats -- having faced Liverpool, Manchester City and now Spurs.
"We've got three really tough games out of the way and we got three points from them," he said. "If we'd drawn all three, they might have appeared like good results. We need six or seven more wins (to be safe from relegation) and this team is capable of that."
He will look to add in the transfer window but said the biggest investment is the 'no sale' which has been placed on striker Andy Carroll, who was described by Redknapp, one of the managers casting covetous looks, as a "handful".
The 21 year-old was, but he was also well marshalled by Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul until the latter was dismissed for aiming a headbutt towards the combative Tiote after the midfielder's forceful tackle. Like Jermain Defoe, dismissed against Villa, Kaboul will receive a three-match ban.
"It was stupid," Redknapp said. "It's a lack of discipline. He has got to learn. You are 1-0 up so why do you have to get involved in something like that?
"It's absolute nonsense and he has to learn. He is a young boy and has been fantastic for us this year."
Before that there had been a clash between the opposing benches after Smith launched into two heavy challenges close to the touchline, with Spurs' assistant manager, Joe Jordan, first confronting Pardew and then Newcastle's goalkeeping coach, Andy Woodman.
It was a sign that the blood was not only up but the stakes high, with Newcastle's spoiling tactics working and the home supporters growing increasingly frustrated by a perceived leniency from referee Anthony Taylor towards Tiote, Smith and Barton.
Spurs looked heavy-legged but almost snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time when Roman Pavlyuchenko's header, from Alan Hutton's cross, was pushed on to a post by goalkeeper Tim Krul. Before that, Carroll had looped a header on to the roof of the net while Fabricio Coloccini stood tall in the Newcastle defence and Smith had brilliantly blocked from Bale.
Just as Spurs appeared to be labouring, however, they struck: Kaboul sent a crisp cross-field pass to Lennon, who sprinted into the area before driving a low right-foot shot across goal. Krul had it covered but it deflected off James Perch and into the net. Cruel indeed.
It changed the dynamic of the game, with Spurs' threat growing until Kaboul's dismissal. Even then they countered superbly and, eventually, Modric whisked the ball away from Carroll's attempted lay-off to release Bale, who galloped down the left, turned Steven Taylor and drilled another low shot across Krul.
In injury-time, Bale and Modric cleared Newcastle efforts off the line and there was to be no consolation beyond the knowledge that they will not face Spurs' fliers every week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)