Jose exorcises demons with win at St James Park to keep European dreams alive
Newcastle United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
An early goal from Son and a brace from England striker Harry Kane afforded Jose Mourinho his first league win at St James Park.
For Newcastle though it was a case of what could, or perhaps should, have been as the Magpies missed a host of chances in front of goal but ending up with only a Matt Ritchie cracker to show for all their endeavour.
With 22 attempts at goal Steve Bruce's men have more than double that of the visitors, but a combination of poor finishing and good keeping would pile more frustration onto a United side that has not won only 4 of their last 18 games in the league.
Spurs went into the game just 2 points behind Sheffield United in what was likely to be the last European spot and just 3 behind Wolves, a spot ahead of that in 6th.
For Jose Mourinho it was the case of same again as he would stick with the side that overcame Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium just four days before. That mean Serge Aurier starting a game of football just three days after his brother was confirmed to have been killed in a shooting in France.
Jose, of course, has never won a league game at St James Park. And when you think of the great sides he’s managed, particularly that at Chelsea, that’s quite an incredible record.
For Bruce there was one enforced change, with Lascelles having to drop out of the starting line-up with an injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for 8 weeks. Whilst Danny Rose would also give way as the manager looked to freshen things up after back to back losses in the league against Watford and before that City.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Schar, Yedlin (Lazaro, 55), Bentaleb (M Longstaff, 86), Shelvey, Ritchie, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Gayle (Joelinton,69)
Without Lascelles, Newcastle continue to look a shambles at the back. And it would take less than 30 minutes for the visitors to break through the United frail back line with
Lo Celso squeezing the ball into Son just inside the left corner of the Newcastle area before he fired low passed the despairing Dubravka as his near post. In the build up to this one Schar had made a complete mess of bringing the ball out from the back, presenting the ball to Moura.
That goal, on 27 minutes was in truth against the run of play to that point, but is exactly what happens when one side possesses the ability to finish clinically and the other not.
At the other end Newcastle came close to equalising in the first half when a wonderfully whipped cross from Shelvey found the head of Dwight Gayle, but he could only guide his header onto the foot of Lloris' right hand post as the ball ricochet to safety.
Newcastle would however have a clinical moment of their own. As into the second half, and with Lazaro just on the pitch as a substitute, his run would be thwarted on the edge of the Spurs box with the ball breaking to Ritchie. With seemingly nothing on from a ideal crossing position, Ritchie decided to have a go himself, and his strike flew across the face of Lloris and into the top corner. A blinding strike from the Scotsman.
But with United hunting for a winner they were always looking fragile at the back and just 4 minutes after the equaliser Spurs were ahead again, this time the simplest of goals. Cross by Bergwijn, header from and unmarked Kane. 2-1 with Krafth nowhere near close enough to his man in defending for United.
And if the second Spurs goal was badly defended the third was almost comical. Kane just brushing off an awful attempted challenge from Krafth, before the Swede raced back only to be turned inside out by Lamela. And whilst Dubravka was equal to the Lamela shot the save fell right onto the head of Kane who bagged his second of the game and Tottenham's third with 90 minutes on the clock.
A pretty sorry end to the season for Newcastle then. Misfiring up front and all at sea at the back. Changes required before next season that's for sure, or things are going to get messy.
There was also worrying news after the game with Bruce confirming that Schar had dislocated his shoulder whilst ASM had picked up a calf injury. You'd think that is the last either player will see of this season.