Tottenham Hotspur were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United on Sunday in the Premier League.
After several early Spurs chances, Harry Kane continued his recent role of creator by delivering a low cross which Lucas Moura turned in, just before the half-hour mark.
The home side were completely dominant in the first 45 minutes and should have added more goals, but two Son Heung-min strikes against the woodwork were as close as they came.
Newcastle came out more after the break but failed to have a single shot on target again – until a 97th-minute penalty was awarded by VAR and Callum Wilson scored.
Here are five things we learned from the game at Tottenham Stadium.
After four assists in his last league outing, Spurs’ primary centre-forward was at it again here.
He might be the team’s top scorer on a perennial basis, but there’s more to the No. 10’s game than just putting the finishing touches on moves and he, indeed, has been chief instigator in recent times.
The first half was typical of such: good movement to find spaces either in the channels or deeper areas, with the awareness to see team-mates’ runs and the technical ability to pick them out.
A low cross set up Lucas, before a spin and through-pass set away Son for a chance and a lay-off did the same moments later. If he could have been on the end of his own passes, Spurs might have hit four or five in that first 45 minutes.
The bad point? He was sent-off after the whistle for his protestations against the penalty.
Defensive, desperate Newcastle
In theory, it’s understandable the Magpies going on the defensive and bulking up their own third of the pitch.
They are away, the inferior side, not expected to take much from the game; pack the box, then, hope to frustrate the opposition and stay in the game until later.
It would make sense – if they actually exuded any confidence as a defensive entity. But they have frequently flattered to deceive and it was no different here, conceding floods of very good scoring chances and really should have been three or four down by the break.
Newcastle looked better going forward second half, or at least more capable of matching Spurs in certain situations, which has to beg the question of why Steve Bruce insists on trying not to lose the game before giving his team any hope of a chance of winning it.
Eric Dier and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg didn’t have the best of starts to the season, but they are quietly growing in stature and form with each passing game week.
The defender here played well out of the back, won his aerial battles, tracked the few runners well and even nearly scored at the other end.
Hojbjerg, in central midfield, started to really showcase his range of passing and was also involved in quickly breaking up the away side’s infrequent forays forward.
They appear to be the two deepest outfield building blocks Jose Mourinho is starting from with this rebuild of Spurs and, though they are not spectacular, they appear to be improving.
Conspicuous by absence
Part of the notable aspect of the game was who didn’t play for Spurs.
Sergio Reguilon was on the bench as he inches closer to apparently becoming the left-back, and Ben Davies didn’t have the best performance.
He in fact came closest to scoring for Newcastle as he walloped the ball straight at a team-mate, which bounced just wide.
Lucas Moura scored, but elsewhere wasn’t hugely effective – while Gareth Bale watched in the stands.
And Dele Alli, with his future seeming uncertain, was nowhere to be seen at all.
VAR and handballs
It’s an unavoidable topic of conversation yet again, as Newcastle were awarded a 97th-minute to sneak the draw.
Dier was adjudged to have handled – with his back to the ball, jumping in mid-air, with Andy Carroll nodding the ball in a different direction that he couldn’t possibly have known or judged.
This wasn’t the first game of the weekend which was decided in such fashion. It wasn’t even the first game this weekend decided in such fashion after the 90th minute.
And it will remain a point of contention, of irritation, of desperation and outright anger – as shown by Kane – until far clearer, fairer rulings are put into place for the use of the new technology in football.
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