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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 August, 2004, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Newcastle 0-1 Tottenham
Tottenham's Sean Davis tackles Jermaine Jenas
Thimothee Atouba's brilliant strike earned Tottenham victory in an entertaining match at Newcastle.

Spurs keeper Paul Robinson made a brilliant save from James Milner, denied Craig Bellamy and watched a Jermaine Jenas shot drift inches wide.

But after the break Atouba cut inside from the left and scored for Spurs with a blistering strike across Given.

Atouba later had a header cleared off the line while Robinson saved from Laurent Robert as Spurs held on.

Following their draw against Liverpool last Saturday, Jacques Santini's team now have four points from two games.

But Sir Bobby Robson's team foundered badly in the second half of the match and his final season in charge at Newcastle has got off to a stuttering start.

Matters off the pitch have not gone well either, with Jonathan Woodgate sold to Real Madrid and Robson involved in a row with Dyer on the opening day that saw the midfielder left on the bench again.

Both teams seemed more comfortable pushing forward, with Newcastle particularly threatening in the opening half.

A long free-kick from Olivier Bernard in only the second minute caught the Spurs defence unawares and Robinson saved well from Bellamy.

Tottenham countered and Defoe shook off Andy O'Brien four minutes later with a sharp swivel, but his tame shot from 10 yards was easily saved.

Jenas troubled Spurs throughout the opening half with marauding runs from midfield.

He came within inches of giving Newcastle the lead with a cheeky shot through Robinson's legs from wide on the left, but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

As Newcastle took control of the match they repeatedly found Robinson standing between themselves and an opening goal.

The former Leeds keeper made one particularly breathtaking save to tip Milner's vicious volley over the crossbar after a superb cushioned header from Shearer.

Shortly afterwards a goalbound Jenas header struck Bellamy two yards from the line and the impressive 17-year-old Spurs defender Phil Ifil made a crucial interception to deny the Magpies midfielder a clear scoring chance.

But Tottenham, marshalled by the wily Nourredine Naybet, held firm until the break.

And their defensive rearguard in the opening 45 minutes was rewarded when they took the lead in spectacular style through Atouba six minutes after the restart.

Both teams had chances to score the game's crucial second goal.

Newcastle had a strong penalty appeal turned down shortly afterwards when Atouba appeared to push Shearer.

An intelligent pass from Sean Davis played Defoe through but his low drive was saved by Given.

Naybet almost deflected the ball into his own net before Robinson saved from Robert.

Emotions spilled over when the usually mild-mannered Jamie Redknapp clashed with Robert - a scuffle that resulted in two yellow cards.

Atouba almost headed his second but former Spurs defender Stephen Carr cleared off the line.

And as the match wore on Newcastle, desperate for some reward, introduced Patrick Kluivert, Kieron Dyer and Shola Ameobi.

Dyer received a mixed reception from the home fans and had scant opportunity to convince the doubters of his commitment to the club.

Close to the final whistle the ball fell invitingly to Ameobi but, symptomatic of his team's afternoon, he blazed his shot wide.


Newcastle: Given, Carr, O'Brien, Hughes, Bernard, Milner (Kluivert 77), Jenas (Dyer 77), Butt, Robert (Ameobi 77), Shearer, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Elliott. Booked: Robert.

Tottenham: Robinson, Ifil, Naybet, King, Edman, Atouba (Jackson 90), Pedro Mendes, Davis, Redknapp (Brown 69), Defoe, Kanoute (Gardner 80).
Subs Not Used: Keller, Silva Sousa.

Booked: Redknapp, Brown.

Goals: Atouba 51.

Att: 52,185.

Ref: M Dean (Wirral).




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