ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Newcastle United
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Newcastle United
Posted by Marc Duffy on 08/21/2012

Newcastle lineup:
Krul, Simpson, Perch, S.Taylor, Santon, Tiote, Cabaye (Anita 71), Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Ba (Obertan 85), Cisse.

Tottenham lineup:
Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Bale, Sigurdsson (Van der Vaart 68), Livermore, Sandro (Kane 85), Defoe.

Premier League football returned to a sunny St James' Park on Saturday afternoon and it was a dream start to the season for the home side with three points bagged.

There had been fitness doubts surrounding Ben Arfa and Cabaye before the game but both players were in the starting lineup. Coloccini missed out through injury and was surprisingly replaced by James Perch with Mike Williamson only taking up a spot on the bench.

For Spurs AVB surprisingly opted to start with Gallas ahead of summer signing Vertonghen.

Newcastle looked very rusty early on with a lot of wayward passes and mis-controlled balls. Spurs were slightly better but the game was scrappy at times as is usually the case in the season opener.

Spurs worked the ball wide as often as they could in the early stages and when Danny Simpson collected a yellow for a foul on Gareth Bale in the 14th minute it would have been fair to assume that Bale would have been the key focus of Spurs attacks for the rest of the game. Strangely he barely featured.

The first big chance of the game came in the 22nd minute. Cisse shot from distance and Ba stuck a toe on it. The ball went wide of the post missing by inches.

A few minutes later Tim Krul tipped a Sigurdsson free kick wide of the post as the game finally began to heat up.

The closest either team came to scoring in the first half was when Jermain Defoe hit the inside of the post in the 32nd minute. The ball rebounded out across the 18 yard box and was eventually cleared by Santon.

Bale hit the crossbar on 36" as Spurs, without playing particularly well, continued to be the better team but the sides went in at half time with the game goal less.

Newcastle, driven on by Hatem Ben Arfa, were a different side in the second half. Hatem looked the man 'most likely'. His dribbles and quick, short passes caused Spurs all sorts of problems. Spurs on the other hand confused their tactics. Although Defoe would score it was clear that a man of his size can not play as a lone striker. AVB attempted to squeeze all life out of the midfield but it did not work at all. The Spurs midfielders were hunting in packs of three or four, but Newcastle's passing game regularly found holes. At one point they were playing with six men across the midfield!

A moment of magic opened the scoring in the 55th minute. Ben Arfa played a clever back-heel pass to Cabaye. Three Spurs players closed Cabaye down but he worked the ball out wide right to Danny Simpson. Simpson crossed towards the back of the penalty area, Walker misjudged the flight of the ball, Ba took a touch and then beautifully curled the ball into the far corner for his first goal since February. 1 0 Newcastle!

There was controversy in the 57th minute. Gareth Bale took the ball out of play and dragged it back in. The linesman played on and Sigurdsson curled a shot wide. In a moment of anger Pardew pushed the linesman and was sent to the stands by the referee.

Spurs equalised in the 76th minute. Lennon chipped the ball in to the back post, Santon headed towards his own goal, Krul saved but the ball rebounded out off the post and Defoe stabbed home. Just over a minute later we almost went ahead again - Tiote shot from 25 yards and the ball deflected wide.

Newcastle took the lead in the 80th minute. Hatem Ben Arfa picked up the ball out left. He twisted and tricked his way between Lennon and Van der Vaart both of whom made contact with him - penalty! Ben Arfa was adamant that he was taking the penalty and after a debate with Demba Ba he slotted the spot kick home. 2 1. Newcastle saw out the final ten minutes without much difficulty.

Man of the match: Hatem Ben Arfa

Overall this was an excellent result to start the season with. Although the first half performance was disappointing, whatever Pardew said at half time had the desired effect. To win a game in which several of our players under performed is very encouraging. Pardew will probably receive a touch line ban for his little push, but he has issued an apology and admitted his embarrassment so hopefully the FA won't come down too hard. We've all seen a lot worse.

Next up is our Europa game vs Atromitos in Athens on Thursday.


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About
Marc Duffy Marc Duffy is a National Account Manager in the alcoholic drinks industry - a career in alcohol was obviously the natural step after following Newcastle United for all of his 32 years. Marc blames his father for his obsession with Newcastle United - since attending his first game at the age of 4 Marc has endured many ups and downs, and despite the lack of silverware remains positive that a trophy will be won at some point in his lifetime! (Wait, does the Intertoto cup not count?) Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcSDuffy

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