TOTTENHAM handed ten man Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez a harsh lesson on their return to the Premier League.
Goals from Dele Alli and Ben Davies gave Mauricio Pochettino a comfortable win at St James’ Park, more than eradicating the memory of their 5-1 thrashing when Newcastle said farewell to the top flight two years ago.
It was the ease of Spurs’ victory which will concern Newcastle boss Benitez who saw midfielder Jonjo Shelvey sent off for a mindless stamp on Alli after he had already been forced to replace two injured defenders before half-time.
Shelvey, who was Benitez’s last signing for Liverpool seven years ago and a major contributor in Newcastle’s promotion last season, clearly stood on Alli’s leg deliberately after an innocuous foul three minutes into the second-half.
The former Swansea midfielder now faces a three-match ban which the stretched Newcastle squad can ill afford.
Benitez will also be awaiting news of defenders Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune who were both forced off injured in the opening 34 minutes.
Wales left-back Dummett looks likely to be out for weeks after he pulled his hamstring in the seventh minute while Lejeune was injured in a nasty challenge from Harry Kane which earned the Spurs captain a caution.
Even before the two substitutions, Newcastle were on the back foot and they spent long periods chasing Spurs shadows before going behind.
The visitors clinched three points with two well-worked goals and Alli broke the deadlock in the 61st minute when he tapped home Christian Eriksen’s perfect delivery in front of goal.
Full-back Ben Davies completed another four-man sweeping move when he slotted past Rob Elliot nine minutes later.
Spurs could easily have matched the five they conceded in May 2016 but Elliot made two superb saves to deny Eriksen and Kane, who also hit the post late on.
The defeat was a reality check for Benitez and Newcastle supporters, who at least entertained themselves with the pantomime booing of former player Moussa Sissoko who was substituted after an unimpressive return to Tyneside.
Newcastle travel to fellow newly-promoted Huddersfield next Sunday while Spurs face Chelsea in their first Premier League home game at Wembley.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS – CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- It had been 15 months since Newcastle’s last Premier League match – a 5-1 victory over Tottenham.
- The previous three Premier League games at St James’ Park between these two sides had seen 14 goals scored.
- Tottenham’s trip to Tyneside was the seventh successive Premier League season they played their opening game away from home.
- Moussa Sissoko was a surprise name in the Spurs starting line-up after his struggles last season and Toon fans gave him a rough ride, jeering him throughout as they vented their dismay at him quitting the club last summer.
- Newcastle suffered a nightmare opening 35 minutes as they lost two starting defenders – Paul Demmett and debut-making Florian Lejeune – to injuries.
- Jonjo Shelvey, captaining Newcastle for the day, was shown a straight red card three minutes into the second half for a stupid stamp on Dele Alli – the third sending off of his career.
- Until today, Newcastle had only been beaten once at home in 2017 – when they slipped up against Fulham in March.
- Defeat means Newcastle have won only one opening match across their last ten league seasons, but that came against Spurs; 2-1 in 2012
- Harry Kane is one goal away from a century for Spurs in all competitions – but he is still yet to score a Premier League goal in August.
- None of the last ten winners of the Championship have won their first match in the Premier League
Ben Davies was the unlikely goalscorer as Spurs went two-up against Newcastle
WHAT THEY SAID
Dele Alli, on the Jonjo Shelvey incident: “Some of them things in football happen, I am sure he is going to be disappointed. We just had to stay professional.
“I have had a few talks with the gaffer about my temper, it is something I like to keep in my game but it is important to stay cool. There was no need to react today.
“We have some fantastic players here, everyone has been working hard and we have started the season strongly.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game, but we knew if we stuck to our gameplan the chances would come
“Fair play to Kyle for coming in and doing very well and taking his chance.
Kyle Walker-Peters added: “Playing here is a fantastic stadium, and most importantly we got the three points. But yes, I am happy.
“I found out in training, I was a bit nervy but nerves are good. Some of the boys even teased me about it.”
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez said: “The sending off changed everything. He made a mistake. Hopefully he will learn from it.
“He has apologised but that changes nothing now.”
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Newcastle: Elliot 6 , Manquillo 6, Clark 6, Lejeune 6 (Mbemba 6), Dummet 6 (Lascelles 6), Ritchie 6, Shelvey 5, Hayden 6, Atsu 6, Perez 5, Gayle 6 (Merino 6)
Tottenham: Lloris 7, Walker-Peters 7, Alderweireld 7, Vertonghen 7, Davies 7 , Dier 7, Dembele 7 (Winks 6), Sissoko 6 (Son, 6), Eriksen 8, Alli 7 (Wanyama 6) , Kane 7
Star Man: Christian Eriksen