Newcastle make the most of Spurs unrest with shock win
Tottenham 0 Newcastle 1
Beaten by the manager Newcastle United's fans say they never wanted, forced again to turn to the playmaker who would rather leave and with four points from three games this has been a forgettable August for Mauricio Pochettino.
As his team chased the game in vain, their manager once more summoned Christian Eriksen from the substitutes' bench, although this time his Danish playmaker with an expiring contract was unable to save the game for Spurs.
The European transfer window closes a week today with Eriksen's future still unclear. The only certainty is that he can leave for nothing next summer - an outcome to which chairman Daniel Levy will be devoutly opposed.
Pochettino refused to blame the result on the uncertainty around Eriksen's future or, for that matter, the futures of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld - both of whom also have a single year left to run on their respective deals.
"We can't justify our performance - we should play better," he said. "[We needed] more desire, more aggression with the ball. Eighty per cent of possession is too much in the Premier League for so few shots on target (three)."
Pochettino had no clear answers as to whether Eriksen had played his last game for the club, but he did say once again that the build-up to the season has been far from ideal, the most unsettled in his six years at the club.
"Some situations we cannot fix. After playing the Champions League final on June 1 we knew that a situation like this could happen," he said. "It's difficult to handle. What can we do?
"The problem [with the contracts] is during the week that maybe can affect [the players]. Today we should have won because we were much better. These type of situations happen in the Premier League. That is why you need to create a very good dynamic and a strong team-bonding and at the moment that situation in our group is still far, far away in that respect."
There was another dubious VAR decision that this time came down on the side of Newcastle, when Harry Kane was denied a penalty - first by Mike Dean, then on review - even though it appeared Jamaal Lascelles had fallen on top of him.
This was a result that might only have unfolded in such a manner once in 10 attempts, but Steve Bruce needed it more than any manager.
Not only that, but the manner of the victory with a well-organised Newcastle team defending with five at the back and going hard on the counter-attack.
Jose Mourinho was in one of the stadium's executive boxes to see the first goal for Newcastle's record signing Joelinton, who had a fine game notwithstanding a couple of attempts to stop play with some long lie-downs on the turf while the action went on around him.
He took the fight to Spurs' defence on his own and was assisted for his goal by the excellent Christian Atsu, an early substitute for the injured Allan Saint-Maximin.
By the end it was the proverbial shoot-out and Lascelles was off the pitch with a calf injury. Bruce evidently appreciates Paul Dummett, his fellow Geordie and centre-half who had one of the games of his life when his manager most needed it. So too Fabian Schar, and when required Federico Fernandez came on for a late stint as Newcastle hung on for the win.
The only goal was a phenomenal sequence of passing. It was a move that began with Matt Ritchie in the left-back position and worked its way from that side to the right and then back again when Atsu finally made the decisive move. His ball to Joelinton evaded three defenders, Davinson Sanchez the closest of them all, and found the run of Newcastle's £40million signing through the middle.
His first touch with his right was excellent, taking him into space and giving him the window of opportunity to sweep the ball past Hugo Lloris with his right inside the goalkeeper's near post.
They might have scored earlier but Sean Longstaff's shot from the right was pushed over the bar by the Frenchman's fingertips.
By the end the pressure was immense, and Lucas Moura somehow missed at the back post with nine regulation minutes remaining. Is this the last they see of Eriksen at Spurs? If so, it was a quiet end to it all. (© Daily Telegraph, London)