Friday 23 March 2018

Magpies out of drop zone as Perez late show halts Spurs' charge

Tottenham 1-2 Newcastle

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren celebrates after the game
Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren celebrates after the game
Aleksandar Mitrovic scores Newcastle United's first
Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates with team mates after scoring their second goal
Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse shoots wide

Jason Burt

In a Premier League that has become predictable only in its unpredictability Newcastle United overturned logic for a second successive Sunday.

Back-to-back wins against the hipster heroes Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur) have quite possibly saved the far less fashionable Steve McClaren his job.

Under severe pressure, McClaren knew he had to turn it around in these two fixtures but he could not have envisaged claiming six points - six precious points that lift Newcastle out of the bottom three and up into 15th place.

In fact, they are now one place ahead of champions Chelsea, who, remarkably, hover just one point about the relegation zone.

Newcastle became the first team to beat Spurs in the league since the opening day of the season - a sequence of 14 matches - and halted their march towards the top four. Ahead, and in control at half-time, Spurs would have gone above fourth-placed Manchester United and into the Champions League places had they held on.

Incredibly there were some boos from the home supporters at the final whistle, with manager Pochettino later stating the "first person who needs to take the blame is me" as he began the search for answers from a curiously flat second-half performance.

Newcastle have now, remarkably, won on their last three league visits to White Hart Lane - Black and White Hart Lane they should call it - and did so this time with goals by two of their substitutes in Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Spurs went ahead on 39 minutes, with Newcastle's self-inflicted damage again involving their captain Fabricio Coloccini, who inexplicably ran away from Eric Dier as the Spurs midfielder moved to meet Christian Eriksen's corner. Dier flashed his header past goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

Spurs were in control. Their only concern was that they were not further ahead, with Elliot denying Erik Lamela with a fine one-handed save and three times, thwarting Harry Kane.

But that was pretty much it. After pressing and harrying and quickly winning the ball back in typical fashion Spurs simply could not maintain it.

Not long into the second-half they, frankly, appeared spent.

Moussa Sissoko became a force in the second but it was not until McClaren ran through his substitutions that fortunes really changed.

From a Jack Colback free-kick Coloccini gained some redemption with a header back across goal which was met by his central defensive partner Chancel Mbemba, who sent a diving header goalwards. Hugo Lloris pushed it out but only to Mitrovic who, a yard from goal, bundled the ball over the line.

Spurs attempted to rally but there was little in the tank.

Belief had returned for Newcastle and it was the third substitute, Yoan Gouffran, who helped the ball forward for Serbia star Mitrovic to flick it into Perez's path.

The 22-year-old had much to do and the angle was tight but he got his shot away and it was enough to beat a culpable Lloris to cap a remarkable comeback for the Magpies.

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