Newcastle 2-3 Tottenham, Newcastle new era started with a defeat in a strange game
The start of Newcastle’s contentious new Saudi Arabian-led era, as well as the sight of Tottenham’s Harry Kane scoring a really nice goal, faded into insignificance as half-time approached.
Nuno Esprito Santo’s side was preparing to take a corner when a spectator collapsed in the East Stand, and images of Sergio Reguilón and Eric Dier abandoning their positions to alert the referee to the emergency unfolding behind them will be the lasting memory of a strange, unsettling afternoon on Gallowgate.
Dier rushed to the technical section, where he demanded a defibrillator, and his quick thinking is commendable. The urgency of the issue became clear as Newcastle’s club doctor, Paul Catterson, sprinted across the pitch with the needed equipment, eclipsing the previous, almost euphoric, euphoria as home fans welcomed the club’s outrageously wealthy new Saudi owners.
Andre Marriner led the players off the pitch for 20 minutes while the spectator received emergency attention. The game was restarted after it was learned that the fan was stable and on his way to the adjacent Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he was recovering on Sunday night. However, the former delight and hope of the day had evaporated.
The governor of Newcastle’s majority owners, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, had flown in from Riyadh for the occasion. He was visibly moved as practically the whole stadium turned to the directors’ box and gave him a standing ovation minutes before kick-off. The atmosphere was so electrifying that it may have generated enough energy to maintain the lights on all winter in northeast England.
Callum Wilson stole in front of Cristian Romero in the second minute and headed Newcastle into the lead, capping a gorgeously flowing move that included a clever, short pass from Allan Saint-Maximin to the overlapping Javier Manquillo as Nuno adopted the expression of a man fearing yet another painful post-match inquest.
Newcastle announce that the fan who needed medical treatment during their game against Tottenham is stable and responsive in the hospital pic.twitter.com/kKutSX62eH— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 17, 2021
Spurs appeared to be a good half yard off the pace at that time, and they appeared to be on the verge of getting carried away by a tidal wave of black and white emotion. Steve Bruce may have fantasized that this might not be his final match in command after all, with the excitement apparent whenever Saint-Maximin touched the ball and his colleagues passing and moving across the breadth of the pitch in a manner rarely seen in recent months.
Then reality stepped in. This Newcastle XI isn’t good enough to maintain slickly zipping passes down the field for 45 minutes, let alone 90, and they did lose concentration at one point. It was enough to provide an unmarked Tanguy Ndombele the space and time he needed to collect Reguilón’s delivery and fire a beautiful shot beyond Karl Darlow.
Kane then recalled that form is only fleeting, however, class is eternal. When England’s center-forward Pierre-Emile Hjbjerg unleashed a through the pass, he checked his stride just enough to stay onside before flicking the ball beyond Darlow. Despite the fact that Kane’s goal, which was his first in the Premier League this season, was initially disallowed due to a minor offside, it was rightfully reinstated after a VAR review.
Where Al-Rumayyan and his co-director Amanda Staveley had been bouncing with excitement earlier, they now stared at the ground, deadpan. After Reguilón, Dier, and the others alerted them to the medical situation, they were visibly concerned, and an unnerving pause occurred.
The ground seemed eerily silent once it was over and a wave of applause for the doctors had faded. Nobody seemed to know how to react, or even if they still wanted to watch the game.
Spurs had near-total control as Newcastle struggled to regain their footing, as evidenced by a quick-footed Lucas Moura who caught Isaac Hayden off guard before finding Kane waiting in the penalty area. Kane made a selfless pass across the six-yard box for Son Heung-min to divert the ball beyond Darlow.
Some two-goal cushions are more comfortable than others, and Tottenham was aware of Saint-shoulder-dropping Maximin’s ability to change the narrative despite their sudden, initially improbable dominance and monopolization of possession.
Even Saint-Maximin, though, cannot win games on his own, and as the clock crept down, chants of “We want Bruce out” rang throughout the field. By the time second-half substitute Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a second yellow card offense – a ludicrously ill-disciplined and self-destructive trip on Reguilón 20 yards out – Bruce, who was “celebrating” his 1,000th game in charge, must have wished Newcastle’s owners had sacked him last week as planned.
Dier’s late own goal, a hilarious header of Jacob Murphy’s free-kick past a shocked Hugo Lloris, was no comfort; Newcastle made Spurs look far better than they are and, without a win all season, appear to be in serious trouble. AlRumayyan must make some major judgments.