Three points and one league place separated Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur going into a Sunday afternoon game full of Champions League ramifications. But the Magpies’ 6-1 mauling of Spurs looked nothing like a clash between the fourth and fifth-placed teams in the table. While Newcastle looked every inch a club heading for Europe next season, Tottenham played with the shrugged resignation of a team already relegated. It won’t come to that of course, but Cristian Stellini’s Spurs looked utterly clueless here.
The first half of this game is set to become a fixture of Premier League Years style retrospectives for years to come. The five goals scored across the first 20 minutes of this extraordinary encounter will likely end up a staple of the post-pub, graveyard shift on Sky Sports. After repeat viewings, it’s impact will be lost. But today, in the immediate aftermath, the trauma for Spurs and their fans is still all too real.
The opener exposed flaws that Newcastle would exploit again and again. A mazy Joelinton run left Pedro Porro and Cristian Romero swinging at air. Hugo Lloris could only paw the Brazilian’s shot out to Jacob Murphy, who hammered it home like the ball had wronged him. Two minutes. 1-0.
A raking Fabian Schar pass left many of the same suspects guilty of the crime of negligence once again. Spurs’ hapless defence, deployed in a four rather than a three for the first time since the early days of Conte, was powerless to stop Joelinton. The midfielder-cum-forward calmly rounded Lloris and finished, Five minutes. 2-0.
Schar dispossessed Son Heung-min. The ball ends up in the path of Murphy. He shapes to shoot and a sliced, dipping finish catches Lloris completely off-guard. The keeper stands rooted. The Newcastle fans rise. A goal of the finest quality. Nine minutes. 3-0.
Joe Willock sends the ball gliding from deep on the left with the outside of his boot. The pass is pure poetry. Alexander Isak writes a gorgeous line or two to top it off. Elegant, measured control. The finish of a man who has found his place in the world. They love him here at St James’ Park and he loves them right back. 19 minutes. 4-0.
The Geordie nation has scarcely caught its breath when Sean Longstaff finds it far too easy to get inside the Spurs box. The midfielder cuts back to Isak. He can still taste Tottenham blood on his lips. This is too easy. 21 minutes. 5-0. Capitulation. Evisceration. Jubilation.
Shellshocked Spurs sent Davinson Sanchez on for the hopelessly outgunned Pape Matar Sarr. But still they looked lost. Longstaff could have made it six but for the boot of Cristian Romero. Harry Kane sent a shot wide at the other end to ironic cheers. What must he be thinking? The loyal Spurs legend watching everything he has invested in being p*ssed up the wall. A penny for that man’s thoughts.
Kane turned those thoughts into action in the second half. Taking it upon himself to make something happen, he breezed past Schar before firing past England teammate Nick Pope. The reception from the half-empty Spurs end was tepid. The impact was minimal. But the goal was a reminder of the class of Harry Kane.
The goal was a reminder that the Magpies couldn’t completely switch off, despite the game being all but won. Longstaff took this to heart, breaking through and having a shot blocked. Isak came close to turning it home but wasn’t able to reach it. Dan Burn had a bite from the resulting corner, but it wasn’t to be.
Son was one of the few in Spurs’ blue change strip still trying to make it happen. The South Korea international led Schar a merry dance before his shot was blocked. Dejan Kulusevski also drew a fine block from ex-Spur Kieran Trippier. Newcastle remained comfortable under the pressure. A 5-1 lead will do that for you.
It wasn’t long until five became six. Eddie Howe had shuffled his deck, bringing on Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron. The latter threaded a through-ball to the former, who had no trouble beating the abject Lloris to extend his side’s lead. A demonstration of the strength in depth Howe has at his disposal.
Tottenham may well use this humbling defeat as an instructional video for their next permanent manager. It would be effective given the fact this defeat displayed almost every flaw Spurs have in microscopic detail. Equally, this victory will be a rallying point for Newcastle. You could hear as much in St James’ Park this afternoon. Today’s win showed what this time are capable of. Most blatantly, they are capable of reaching the Champions League.