Newcastle 6-1 Tottenham: Champions League showdown that was a humiliation

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Newcastle celebrate
Newcastle led for 88 minutes and 59 seconds of the game, excluding added time

It was the 21 minutes that cemented Newcastle United’s place as favourites for a Champions League return – and illustrated the shambolic state Tottenham Hotspur are in.

On Tyneside they will be talking about the opening quarter of their 6-1 win over Spurs for some time to come. They will in north London too, but with a very different tone.

Jacob Murphy scored after 61 seconds, then Joelinton netted, then Murphy again. That was all within nine minutes. Some Spurs fans left.

Murphy – who had only scored once in the league all season before this game – and Isak each had two goals with just 21 minutes on the clock. It was 5-0. A lot more Spurs fans left.

‘How am I still unemployed?’ wonders ex-Spurs defender

Former Tottenham and Newcastle left-back Danny Rose was at St James’ Park analysing the game for Sky Sports.

The 32-year-old, who is without a club, says he has barely watched a game since leaving Watford in September.

“There have been so many mistakes. All I’ve been thinking all half is ‘how am I unemployed?’!” the ex-England defender said.

Former England winger Chris Waddle, who played for both teams in the 1980s, was also in the stadium summarising for BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Newcastle must have dreamed of this,” he said in the first half. “They would have expected a tough afternoon but it has just been so easy for them.

“Tottenham are a shambles. They consider themselves as a top-four club. It’s embarrassing.”

Millions of people across the UK heard a loud alarm on their phones at 15:00 BST, a government test system that had been planned in advance. That was at half-time in this game.

Spurs fans, though, were alarmed a long time before that. In fact, by the time it came through many will have been on the A1 back to London by then.

“These Tottenham players should reimburse the travelling fans because this is one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen,” said Waddle.

‘Everything Conte said has been proved correct’

The beginning of the end for Antonio Conte as Spurs manager was when he called his players “selfish”, and said they were “not a team” after a 3-3 draw at Southampton on 18 March.

He left the club shortly after by mutual consent but the decision to put his long-time assistant Cristian Stellini in charge until they find a new manager this summer was not widely praised at the time and a few weeks on looks even less astute.

Former Newcastle winger Kieron Dyer was also at the game on Sky Sports duty and has some sympathy with Conte’s rant.

“Everything Conte said in his press conference has been proved correct,” he said at half-time. “Everybody has been poor, they’ve been put to the sword.”

Waddle added: “When you get rid of your manager and your assistant plays the same way then it isn’t going to change.”

A fan holding a phone at St James' Park
Phones were going off at St James’ Park with an emergency alert at 15:00 BST… but alarm bells were ringing much earlier than that for Spurs fans

It was at 5-0 after 21 minutes that Stellini decided his decision to send Spurs out with a back four for the first time in 15 months was, in hindsight, not a good one.

The man he turned to was Davinson Sanchez, who was booed by some Spurs fans when he was substituted during the 3-2 defeat by Bournemouth seven days ago.

Visibly upset by the reaction, this time his introduction seemed to galvanise his team – up to a point. The final 69 minutes of the game ended 1-1, with Harry Kane and Callum Wilson scoring.

They now sit six points behind Newcastle and Manchester United, in third and fourth respectively, having played more games than both.

“It was my responsibility to decide how we play and we decided to do it differently because of the injuries,” he said. “It is my responsibility, I took it and it was wrong.”

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was replaced at half-time, with an injury cited for his withdrawal.

He had made one save. After 60 seconds. To parry Joelinton’s shot into Murphy’s path for the opening goal.

“It’s very embarrassing,” he said. “We should apologise to the fans. We were late in all aspects of the game and we completely missed the first part of the game.

“It is not even about tactics, we just could not fight.”

Harry Kane
Harry Kane could only watch on as Tottenham’s defence was breached again and again and again…

‘Stadium would be bouncing with Champions League’

As terrible as Spurs were, Newcastle were outstanding. Their midfield and front line were all brilliant in the first half. Their defenders might well have been too, if we had seen them actually do anything.

“You don’t expect that. The quality of our finishing was incredible. They weren’t stick-on goals. We were lethal in front of goal,” Newcastle boss Eddie Howe told Sky Sports.

“Everything about our first half an hour was where we want to be.”

If Newcastle win six of their last seven games, they will be back in the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2002-03. Realistically they won’t have to win six times.

Right-back Kieran Trippier, once of Spurs, said: “We shouldn’t be scared to say we want to to play Champions League football.

“The games are running out. This club and stadium would be bouncing with Champions League football.”

When Newcastle were taken over by Saudi Arabian-based owners in £305m, the aim was for them to be in the Champions League. But few were expecting it this soon.

“Since the takeover at Newcastle, the owners have spent some money but I wouldn’t say they’ve gone out and bought big names,” said Waddle.

“But now they are heading for the Champions League and they need to add to this squad. Will this squad go well in that tournament? Not really.

“They need to address that over the summer. Newcastle are a club on the up.”

All in all it was a memorable afternoon, with even BBC Sport’s live text commentary failing to manage any reaction to some goals before the next one went in….

Live text snippet
The goals were flying in at a steady pace, as our live text commentary showed

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