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Newcastle go down fighting against Tottenham at St James' Park

Dele Alli scores against Newcastle.
Dele Alli scores against Newcastle.

Newcastle United went down fighting against a star-studded Tottenham side at St James' Park, but were ultimately left empty handed after a gripping Premier League opener.

After a frantic start, Jan Vertonghen's 8th-minute opener for the visitors was cancelled out by a towing header from Joselu three minutes later.

Spurs regained their advantage though Dele Alli's 18th-header, which provided to be the winner, even if Mauricio Pochettino's side were hanging on towards the end.

Ayoze Perez forced an excellent save from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, while new signing Salomon Rondon hit the bar with five minutes to go.

However, the Magpies couldn't force an equaliser which their second-half performance deserved.

Benitez resisted the temptation to start new signings Rondon and Yoshinori Muto, with Perez and Joselu chosen to lead the line instead.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravika and Kenedy made their first competitive starts since signing for the club permanently in the summer.

Despite hinting he may rest players who played at the World Cup, Pochettino named a strong side to start the season.

Seven of Spurs' starting XI progressed to the knock-out stages in Russia, including Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.

The latter was deployed in a deeper central midfield role and quickly looked to assert himself on proceedings.

In the eighth minute, Eriksen fizzed a low effort on target which Dubravika tipped around the post, but from the resulting corner Spurs took the lead.

Eriksen's in-swinger was flicked towards the back post by Davinson Sanchez before Jan Vertonghan nodded the ball over the line, in off the underside of the bar.

Newcastle responded almost immediately when Ritchie cut in from the right in the 11th minute, crossing for the unmarked Joselu to head home the equaliser.

Benitez's men weren't level for long, though, just seven minutes to be precise.

They fell behind again when Spurs right-back Serge Aurier found space on the right and swung a teasing cross towards the back post, where Alli, who evaded the attentions of DeAndre Yedlin, arrived late to steer a header past Dubravika.

The visitors saw most of the ball after that, with Newcastle keeping their opponents at arms length.

Even so, the hosts spent large spells camped inside their own half, with their best chance coming from set-pieces.

In the 28th minute, Paul Dummett fired wide from a corner while Ciaran Clark scuffed an effort off target following a Ritchie free-kick.

Spurs could have moved further ahead before half-time when another Eriksen corner was glanced wide by the head of Sanchez.

Newcastle came out fired up after the interval, with Mohamed Diame clattering an effort against the post within two minutes of the restart.

They threatened again when Joselu fed Kenedy, however the Brazilian's first touch let him down and allowed the Spurs defence to recover.

The match suddenly broke out into an end-to-end contest, with Dubravika making an exquisite, instinctive save to deny Moussa Sissoko from close range.

Benitez introduced Rondon in the 59th minute, in place Joselu, when Newcastle were preparing to take a corner.

But, it was his new strike partner Perez who almost equalised from Ritchie's delivery, drawing an excellent close-range save from Lloris.

Muto was also introduced as the Magpies piled men forward in the closing stages.

They almost clinched a point when Rondon's 85th-minute effort deflected off Vertonghen and onto the bar but the visitors held on.