Richarlison doubles up as Tottenham run riot against sorry Newcastle | Premier League
Tottenham scored first. Obviously. It was a moment to remember for Destiny Udogie, his first goal for the club and, at that point in the 26th minute, the scene was set. In each of their previous five Premier League games, Spurs had scored first only to lose four and draw one. It was an unprecedented series of collapses. Could they finally capitalise from a position of strength?
Ange Postecoglou’s players gave the answer that he wanted. Of course they could, mate. On an occasion of great significance for the Champions League qualification places, Spurs simply blew Newcastle away, Son Heung-min the star turn, with Richarlison not too far behind.
Son finished with the goal that he deserved, swept home from the penalty spot after he had been upended by the Newcastle goalkeeper, Martin Dubravka. But it was the Spurs captain’s assists for the first two goals, the second turned home by Richarlison, that made the difference. A statistic: Son now has 10 goals and four assists in the Premier League this season.
Richarlison heard one of the loudest cheers of the day when he was substituted towards the end. He scored a well-taken second goal and only the hardest of hearts could not smile, given the injuries and mental-health issues he has suffered this season.
Newcastle had been determined to bounce back from the midweek defeat at Everton but instead their away-day woes continued, their stoppage-time goal by Joelinton the most hollow of consolations. They have taken only five points on their travels and it feels as though Eddie Howe’s injury-ravaged squad is running on fumes. Next up for them is the make-or-break Champions League tie at home to Milan on Wednesday.
It was billed in some quarters as the selection-crisis derby and the scoreline in terms of unavailable players was 10-8 to Newcastle. There had been a slither of good news for Howe when he was able to recall Sean Longstaff and Callum Wilson to the substitutes’ bench. That said, for the fifth time in 15 days. he went with the same 10 outfield players at the start.
Postecoglou has said on numerous occasions that he is “unwavering” in his commitment to the way he wants to play. As such, it was not even a surprise when he sent out an ultra-attacking lineup, Richarlison recalled at the expense of Giovani Lo Celso, Pape Sarr back, too, with Dejan Kulusevski shifted back into a central attacking midfield role. Postecoglou knows it will work. He keeps on saying so.
The big detail at the outset was the sight of Richarlison in the No 9 role, with Son – who was passed fit after a knock to his back – wide left. It is fair to say that it worked.
Spurs pushed up, as always, the full-backs daringly high and it was possible to wonder whether Newcastle could profit from any quick counterpresses. They nearly did on 10 minutes, Joelinton getting Anthony Gordon into yards of space up the inside left. When Gordon crossed low for Alexander Isak, Ben Davies stretched to get a faint but decisive defensive touch.
The game was otherwise a story of Spurs asserting themselves at the other end, bringing the hustle, some of their pass-and-move stuff extremely slick. Newcastle gasped for breath, a clutch of their players grabbing various body parts at different times and going down, Howe wondering whether his medics were going to be further extended.
Son versus the Newcastle right-back, Kieran Trippier, was a key duel and there was only one winner. Son had too much speed and trickery and he was fundamental to giving his team the upper hand.
Cristian Romero had seen a goalbound header from a corner hacked clear by Miguel Almirón when Son blazed past Trippier on the outside to cross for Udogie, who had a tap-in. Udogie had sparked the move with a pass out wide to Son and he continued his run into the six-yard box.
Spurs could have had plenty more in the first half. Sarr dragged wide when well placed from a Brennan Johnson cross while, before the end of it, Johnson kissed the outside of the post with a fierce shot and Richarlison could not stretch to reach a deflected Kulusevski cross after a Son burst.
Newcastle flickered in the 34th minute after a loose Johnson pass, Guglielmo Vicario ending up denying Almirón and Spurs’s second came when Son got the better of Trippier to pull back for Richarlison.
Would Spurs waver in the second half? Given the recent body of evidence, it was impossible to discount the theory. But this was a day when everything clicked for them. Kulusevski, who wore a mask to protect a broken nose, was a menace, catching the eye when he lengthened his stride while Johnson was very good, too. Newcastle had nothing in the tank.
It was all over when Richarlison scored again. Pedro Porro’s diagonal was a thing of beauty and Richarlison stole away from Jamaal Lascelles to finish. The closing stages were open and chaotic, scarred by a horrible tackle by Romero on Wilson, the Spurs defender crunching in on his prone opponent, fortunate to escape with a yellow card. Tensions simmered.
Johnson hit the woodwork after a lovely Kulusevski pass, Oliver Skipp – on as a substitute – was denied one-on-one by Dubravka and Son might have had another after his penalty. Joelinton’s goal came from a Wilson pass after Spurs had lost possession in their defensive third.