Newcastle United stun Tottenham Hotspur thanks to Joelinton strike
Steve Bruce came out fighting after a week of intense scrutiny on Tyneside – and his players fought for him in North London.
Bruce needed a performance more than anything against Tottenham Hotspur – but he got more than that in the end.
Newcastle United's fans had travelled to the game more in hope than expectation.
They'd had a tortuous journey to the capital due to the temporary closure of Kings Cross train station, but it was rewarded with the first win of Steve Bruce's tenure, the club winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Joelinton and a backs-to-the-wall performance.
Bruce, having gone on the offensive against his critics before the game, needed his players to come to his defence on the pitch on a sweltering afternoon at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. His tactics had been questioned. Did his players have the answers?
It had been claimed that his players "didn't know their jobs" in the previous weekend's 3-1 defeat to Norwich City. They knew exactly what they were doing this time, and United's travelling fans were able to bask in the sun – and the performance.
Bruce, under pressure since the day he succeeded Rafa Benitez at his boyhood club, was cautious in his approach after a week of tactical scrutiny.
Sean Longstaff was recalled to the team. Allan Saint-Maximin also started after recovering from a hamstring problem, though he limped off after just 17 minutes.
United’s fans wanted to see a reaction, something to cling on to. Anything, in fact. And what the performance gave them was hope.
The breakthrough came in the 27th minute thanks to a clever ball from substitute Christian Atsu to Joelinton, in space on the edge of the box. The striker carried on his run and beat Hugo Lloris.
Newcastle clung on to that lead. They were dogged and determined, just like they were so often under Benitez.
It was just the kind of performance which Bruce needs from his team if he's to win hearts and minds on Tyneside. It's a start.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Lascelles (Fernandez, 82), Dummett, Ritchie; Hayden, Longstaff, Saint-Maximin (Atsu, 17); Almiron, Joelinton (Muto, 87). Subs not used: Darlow, Manquillo, Willems, Shelvey.