Club record signing Joelinton’s first goal in English football gave Newcastle United a surprise win at Tottenham – and Steve Bruce his first points as their manager.
The Brazilian striker took advantage of sleepy Tottenham defending to control substitute Christian Atsu’s through pass beautifully before drilling past Hugo Lloris.
Atsu, sent on after Allan Saint-Maximin had to go off with an early hamstring injury, provided the assist with his first significant contribution.
Spurs lacked the creativity to break down a resolute Newcastle side, whose four-man midfield spent a large chunk of the contest sitting deep in front of a back five.
Son Heung-min, making his first Tottenham appearance of the season after completing a three-match suspension, saw a bouncing first-half volley beaten away by Martin Dubravka, then rolled a shot wide shortly before the interval.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino sent on Christian Eriksen and Giovani lo Celso for the final half-hour in an attempt to salvage something from the 500th match of his managerial career.
It almost worked: Lo Celso’s pass for Harry Kane ended with the England captain falling under Jamaal Lascelles’ challenge – but Mike Dean ruled it was not a penalty, and was backed up by the check from video assistant referee Anthony Taylor.
Then Eriksen’s superb diagonal pass gave Moussa Sissoko the room to cross low, but Lucas Moura skied his shot over the bar from around eight yards.
Robust Newcastle’s perfect response
Newcastle’s fans have had to spend a fair amount on petrol money in the season’s first three weeks – with a 516-mile round trip to Norwich last weekend followed up by this 560-mile round journey to north London.
They must have wondered why they had bothered going to Carrow Road, given a feeble display in a 3-1 defeat, with centre-back Paul Dummett later acknowledging that “it wasn’t right” in the warm-up – and admitting that the players had to take responsibility.
Manager Bruce was looking for a lift after beginning his reign with two defeats – and his players provided it for that loyal travelling support.
Newcastle produced a display of immense discipline in intense heat in north London, with Dummett and his fellow centre-backs Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar working themselves into the ground.
It was not just the defenders who toiled, though – striker Joelinton showed he was willing to help at both ends of the field by getting back to heard away two early Erik Lamela corners, and he ran himself to the point of exhaustion, eventually coming off in the final moments with apparent cramp.
The visitors had only 20% possession, and had to absorb plenty of early Tottenham pressure, but it was a sign of how well they did that Tottenham managed just two shots on target.
Newcastle had the game’s first shot on goal, with Sean Longstaff’s rising drive tipped away by Lloris after Joelinton had held up the ball for him.
Bruce was not thrown by the early injury to French winger Saint-Maximin, who pulled up in the first 15 minutes after chasing a Matt Ritchie free-kick that ran out of play.
Newcastle’s manager will have been pleased that his players showed such a willingness to work for the cause – a characteristic that will be vital in the months ahead.
More to follow.