Spurs see off Newcastle to clinch Champions League spot
Tottenham look forward to returning to White Hart Lane after a season 'away' at Wembley
09 May, 2018 — By Dan Carrier at Wembley
FA Premier League
SPURS 1 (Kane 50)
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0
THE Champions League dream will start again in Tottenham’s new White Hart Lane stadium next season as Spurs confirmed their qualification at Europe’s top table for the third year in a row tonight (Wednesday).
A 1-0 win against Newcastle – coupled with Chelsea drawing at home to Huddersfield – means Mauricio Pochettino’s team will finish in the top four and end the term as London’s top club.
Win at home against Leicester on Sunday and they could finish third – not a bad return for a term many felt would be transitionary due to the Wembley factor.
It took a Harry Kane strike on 50 to seal the points – and speaking after the game, Pochettino said the whole club had deserved to seal qualification after a long season playing away.
He said: “It was tough for the players and the staff at first at Wembley. It was hard for the fans to move from White Hart Lane. We had to be strong mentality, physically and show passion – that is how we achieved what we did today. But the quality has been there all season to achieve top four.”
His side showed character in a nervous game that a poor run meant Spurs could ill afford to lose.
He added: “It was a must win game against a team who sat deep. We had to play with some freedom and show our quality. It was a good experience for the players.”
And he singled out Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama for coming into the side and helping their teammates get over the line.
He said: “I am so proud of all my players. I think Moussa Sissoko was one of the best today. Not too many people recognise his work, he has not played too much, but he was professional. He gave his best. We talk about it being about the whole squad and how important it is to respect them and treat everyone in the right way. Everyone is part of the teams achievement.”
Spurs started with real ambition but it was Newcastle who went closest to opening the scoring on 10. Jonjo Shelvey spun a free kick, clumsily conceded by Sissoko, against Hugo Lloris’s left hand post with the keeper sprawling.
Previously Christian Eriksen had sent a good free kick towards the top corner, but Toon stopper Martin Dubravka had time to paw it away.
Spurs had won just four points in their past four games and there were nerves apparent.
On 25, Lloris also proved his worth again with a wonderful full stretch save off a Jamaal Lascelles header.
Up the other end, Kane raced after a long through ball from the boot of Lloris and as he shaped to strike a volley he wobbled on his standing foot and shanked it. It was a sign of just quite how off form the Spurs centre forward has been since damaging his ankle back in March – but he was to find a moment of magic when it counted. Despite looking peaky, it was Kane who got Tottenham’s noses in front.
On 50, a tightly played piece of passing saw Heung-Min Son find a smidgen of room on the left. He dinked it into Kane’s feet and the forward struck the ball cleanly with the inside of his boot to send it into the top corner. It was a wonderful, instinctive finish and suddenly Tottenham looked like their old selves and found their sass.
It knocked the wind from Newcastle’s sails, too – suddenly their approach of plenty of fight but not much skill turned into not much fight and no skill at all.
Newcastle looked tired and as if they could not muster anything but the long ball – which nearly worked when substitute Jacob Murphy scampered clear but could only shoot wide from an angle.
At the other end, Spurs kept looking for opportunities but nothing seemed to gel when it was needed. It meant the tension among the home fans was not to be relieved by the cushion of a second – though late on it looked like there was going to be a bring-the-house down moment.
Substitute Danny Rose was played in brilliantly by Erik Lamela but couldn’t get his shot past the keeper.
It would have saved the crowd any last minute nerves – but instead it was the news from Stamford Bridge that Chelsea could only draw with Huddersfield, a result which meant Spurs could not be caught, kick started the party.
Champions League football was confirmed for next year and the sourness of a tepid end to a season, that had plenty of highs earlier on, can now be forgotten about.
SPURS: Lloris, Trippier (Alderweireld 83) Vertonghen, Sanchez, Son (Lamela 76), Kane, Wanyama (Rose 87) Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen, Davies.
Subs not used: Vorm, Llorente, Foyth, Moura.
NEWCASTLE: Dubravka, Dummett, Lascelles, Shelvey, Gayle (Joselu 76) Diame, Richie, Kenedy (Murphy, 70) Perez, Lejeune, Yedlin.
Subs not used: Darlow, Hayden, Manquillo, Merino, Haidara.