By 90Min
August 12, 2018

Disappointment. That was the buzz word around Tyneside after Newcastle's opening Premier League defeat against Tottenham.

Following another poor showing in the transfer window, fan dissent towards owner Mike Ashley was at its highest point for months. Both supporters and manager Rafa Benitez alike were visibly frustrated.

An opening day match against Spurs just seemed like an extra kick in the ribs from the Premier League, just to drive home those weaknesses in the Newcastle team.

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Yet as soon as Martin Atkinson blew the first whistle, the Magpies came out fighting.

Spirit and strength of character are known to be traits Benitez admires and looks for in his players, and it showed in abundance among many of the Newcastle players. They weren't content with sitting back and soaking up the pressure, instead piling forward and causing a somewhat shaky-looking Spurs defence problems.

As such, the opening goal was devastating to concede.

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At normal speed, it looked as if goalkeeper Martin Dubravka had done enough to claw Jan Vertonghen's header away - only for Atkinson to blow his whistle and signal a goal. The Hawk-Eye goal line technology had indicated it crossed the line.

On the replays, it transpired that the ball had indeed crossed the line - by a total of just 9mm. It was rightfully a goal and successfully demonstrated the strength of the technology, but it was heartbreaking for the Newcastle supporters.

It showed the fine margins of the modern game, and it looked as if fate itself was against the Magpies despite their positive start.

After all, what hope did Newcastle have of grabbing a goal with striker Joselu up front? As much as the Spaniard's work rate couldn't be faulted last season, the player is far from a prolific goalscorer - managing just four goals across the last campaign.

Well, naturally, he stunned St. James' Park just three minutes later.

After a sublime cross from Matt Ritchie, who was immense throughout the match, Joselu rose highest to guide a beautiful header into the Spurs' net.

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It was a great goal, and thoroughly unexpected. It showed great character and fightback from Newcastle - something that was key in their league success last season - as well as helping to improve opinions of Joselu in the minds of Toon fans.

The stadium roared back into full life, which is always a pleasing sight to see on opening weekend.

So naturally, as is so often the case with Newcastle, it was thrown away by some lax defending seven minutes later. Dele Alli ghosted in past a sleeping DeAndre Yedlin to head home, and all of Newcastle's hard-work and fight was lost.

A cheeky salute to the Gallowgate End from Alli ensured there was no love lost between him and the fans for the remainder of the game.

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After the frantic start to the game the goals dried up, but Newcastle had plenty more reasons to be positive - particularly in the second half.

There was no hint of capitulation from Newcastle at any point, and they ran Spurs ragged at times. Kenedy looked incredible in black and white, his flair and trickery regularly getting the better of the Tottenham players.

It is a sight for sore eyes to see a Newcastle player dancing through opposition players with tricks, flicks and turns, carrying the ball out of defence with utmost confidence and making forty and fifty yards each time.

The last Magpie to truly do the same was probably Hatem Ben Arfa, and he managed to become a fan favourite for many. Kenedy might just do the same this season if he keeps performing like he did against Spurs, especially if he can get those maze-like runs and tricks happening further up the pitch.

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Ritchie looked on top form too - even though he was bizarrely substituted by Benitez, a fact the Scottish international did not take too kindly to.

Newcastle had their chances too to make the difference, with Mohamed Diame smashing a thunderous drive against the woodwork and new striker Salomon Rondon seeing his deflected effort loop up over Hugo Lloris, only to crash against the crossbar.

However, most egregious of all was Kenedy's spurned opportunity. The Brazilian was played into acres of space in the Tottenham box by a sublime pass from Joselu - who kept up his remarkable performance long after netting - but the Chelsea loanee took an uncharacteristic heavy first touch.

It was probably Newcastle's best chance to get back into the game, but a little bit of rustiness caught up with them. Even with the wasted chance though, Kenedy and the other players fought for the ball - with Ayoze Perez demanding a sharp save out of Lloris just moments later.

Another new signing, Yoshinori Muto, got his debut late on in the match and looked quite encouraging. He's not the quickest or the most physical, but he seems like an intelligent player.

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Despite only having ten minutes on the pitch he popped up in pockets of space on multiple occasions, as well as happily harassing and harrying defenders when not in possession.

Interestingly too, he seemed to be deployed more as a number 10, in Perez's position, rather than as an out-and-out striker as he was originally billed. It's a position Benitez had wanted to strengthen, and perhaps the Japanese international will find himself transitioned into the new role more permanently.

In the end, Newcastle started their league campaign with defeat, but taking the result out of the equation they looked a well-organised and dangerous outfit under Benitez.

The only real sour note came late in the game in the form of potentially serious injury to full back DeAndre Yedlin, which leaves Newcastle slightly short on cover for the upcoming games.

Either way, if Newcastle take this form and level of effort into their next match against Cardiff City, they'll be unlikely to find themselves on the losing side again.

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