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Premier League

  • 18 August 2012
  • • 17:30
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 52385

Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham: Ben Arfa spot on as Villas-Boas' Spurs reign gets off to losing start

Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham: Ben Arfa spot on as Villas-Boas' Spurs reign gets off to losing start

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Demba Ba was also on the scoresheet for the hosts, opening their account ahead of Jermain Defoe's equaliser, but a late penalty from the Frenchman was enough for all three points

Newcastle got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start, defeating Tottenham 2-1 thanks to a late penalty from Hatem Ben Arfa.

The Magpies took the lead in the second half following a pretty poor opening 45 minutes from both sides in front of goal, thanks to a great strike from Demba Ba, curling an effort into the far corner.

Spurs were level with less than 15 minutes to play through Jermain Defoe's tap-in, but lost the lead less than four minutes later thanks to Ben Arfa's spot kick in the 81st minute, after he was felled by Aaron Lennon in the box.

Newcastle's injury problems seemed to have all-but evaporated, with doubtful players Cheikh Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Ba and Papiss Cisse all shrugging off knocks to start, though centre-back Fabricio Coloccini was unable to take part.

8/1 Newcastle are 8/1 with PaddyPower to finish in the Premier League top four
In Andre Villas-Boas' first competitive game in charge, he opted for a single striker in the form of Defoe, while William Gallas was a surprise selection at centre-back with new arrival Jan Vertonghen confined to the bench.

The first action of the match came in the opening 10 minutes, when Benoit Assou-Ekotto was lucky to get away with a poor clearance, which then served to set up a counterattack.

With Lennon bursting down the right wing, Spurs had a four-on three situation, but didn't exploit it fully with Gareth Bale free for the entire move but unused. Lennon found Sandro, whose shot rebounded to Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he was wrongly adjudged offside before his shot was blocked by Tim Krul.

A flurry of yellow cards seemed to upset Spurs boss Villas-Boas, as his two central midfielders, Sandro and Jake Livermore, earned a place in the referee's book for fairly innocuous challenges that seemed to set the tone for the rest of the match, with Danny Simpson walking a tight-line after picking up an early yellow for the hosts.

Newcastle were inches away from opening the scoring as Ba turned and shot from around 25 yards, and just inside the area Cisse got a touch on the ball to flick it just past the post, with Brad Friedel beaten by the deceptive spin.

Spurs were the next to come close, with Sigurdsson curling a free-kick towards the bottom corner, but Tim Krul got down well to make a save, and then Defoe struck the foot of the post after cutting inside Steven Taylor and firing past Krul, with the hosts clearing the rebound.

Lennon was causing Davide Santon quite a few problems at left-back, as he switched inside and out before cutting down the line and standing up a cross for Bale at the back post, whose header back across goal rebounded off the bar, with 10 minutes left until half-time.

That proved to be the last major action of the half, and with neither side making a change during the break, the visitors began brightly, with Lennon again proving troublesome as he went on a run from the centre of the pitch to the opposition box, and saw his cross cut out by James Perch with Defoe fractionally late to arrive.

But in the 55th minute, it was the hosts that took the lead. A cross from Simpson was poorly cleared by Kyle Walker, whose header was more up in the air than out. Ba was on hand to bring the ball down, and as he was given far too much time and space by Gallas and Walker, he curled a beautiful effort into the far corner past Friedel's despairing dive.

And barely a minute afterwards, there was more drama as manager Alan Pardew was dismissed from the touchline after shoving linesman Stuart Burt following a contentious call after the ball appeared to go out of play.

With just over 20 minutes to play, Rafael van der Vaart was introduced in place of Sigurdsson, and almost had an instant impact, putting in a great ball for Lennon, but the winger could only chest it down on the run before it was cleared.

A minute later, Cabaye was replaced by Newcastle's newest signing Vurnon Anita as Pardew, via the directors' box, looked to shore things up in midfield.

Defoe was the next man to come close to scoring, latching onto a good through ball to aim a low strike at goal, but Krul got down well to stop it, and Steven Taylor mopped up extremely cleverly by stopping the ball from going out for a corner and lying down to head it back to his keeper, much to the amusement of the home crowd.

But the home fans weren't laughing in the 76th minute, as Defoe grabbed an equaliser. Lennon was in acres of space on the left following a corner, and dinked a cross into the far post. The striker was just too low to connect with a header, but the ball bounced off Newcastle defender Santon, and Krul could only knock the ball onto the post, with Defoe on hand to knock in the rebound.

Spurs were level for less than four minutes however, as Ben Arfa produced some more quality to get past a defensive duo of Van der Vaart and Lennon, with the latter seemingly the greater aggressor in hauling down the French attacker for a penalty.

The winger duly stepped up to take the spot kick, and dispatched it coolly into the bottom corner to restore the Magpies' lead.

Villas-Boas reacted by bringing on youngster Harry Kane for his first Premier League appearance, with Sandro being replaced, while Pardew brought off goalscorer Ba, going for a five-man midfield and Gabriel Obertan in place on the right wing.

But it was all to no avail for Villas-Boas, as his reign with the north London club got off to an underwhelming start.