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Newcastle United beat Tottenham Hotspur in a very closely contested game at the Sports Direct Arena, with goals from Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa helping Alan Pardew's side to a narrow 2-1 victory. The Senegalese striker opened the scoring six minutes before the hour mark with a spectacular strike, but saw Jermain Defoe draw Spurs back level with a close-range finish in the 76th minute. Ben Arfa's 80th minute penalty though proved to be the decider, giving the Magpies a huge win on the opening day of the season.
Alan Pardew had a couple of injury worries before the game, but managed to put out an almost full-strength lineup for the game against the Spurs, with Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa starting on either side of Papiss Cisse upfront. The versatile Jonas Gutierrez was moved into a central midfield role alongside regular pairing Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote. James Perch was drafted into the Magpies' side at centre-half alongside Steven Taylor, with Davide Santon and Danny Simpson flanking the duo.
Jan Vertonghen was denied his first Premier League start by Andre Villas-Boas, as Spurs decided to play Younes Kaboul and Willam Gallas in the heart of defence, with usual suspects Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker starting at fullback. With Luka Modric expected to seal a move to Real Madrid in the next few days and Scott Parker injured, the young duo of Jake Livermore and Sandro started in midfield for the visitors, with Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on either flank. Gylfi Sigurdsson beat Rafael Van der Vaart to a starting berth to make his competitive debut for the North Londoners, while Jermain Defoe expectedly lined up in attack, given Villas-Boas' lack of choice upfront.
Despite an impressive tempo to the game right from the start, neither side was able to create a real chance on goal in the opening stages. However, after dictating most of the play, Spurs could well have been behind to a freak goal, as a Ba strike from outside the box was instinctively prodded towards goal by his strike partner Cisse, changing the direction of the ball and wrong-footing Brad Friedel but seeing the ball trickle past the outside of the upright.
The best chances thereafter came the way of the visitors, starting with Sigurdsson's freekick in the 26th minute that Tim Krul needed to turn around his right post. Defoe came even closer soon afterwards, as the goalscorer for England in midweek saw his shot bounce back off the upright after he cut inside past a flat-footed Taylor.
Tottenham were denied by the woodwork for the second time in the 36th minute, as Bale this time saw his looping header across the face of goal hit the crossbar after being brilliantly set up by Lennon.
A number of challenges came flying in, as the referee pulled out the yellow card on four different occasions in the first 45, but at the break both teams went in with the scores still level.
Ba, who had scored 14 goals for the Magpies last season before departing for the African Cup of Nations, and none thereafer, regained his long lost scoring touch nine minutes after the restart, picking up the ball on the left side of the Spurs' box before curling a spectacular shot into the far corner of the net out of Friedel's reach to give the hosts the lead.
The game however took a turn for the worse for Newcastle boss Alan Pardew soon afterwards, as the Magpies' manager was sent to the stands for shoving the assistant referee after seeing a decision go against his side. Such behaviour from a manager is completely unacceptable, and one hopes that the FA takes relevant action to ensure that players and their managers both learn to respect officials.
Pardew's frustrations were doubled with a quarter of an hour left in the game, as Defoe found the net to give Spurs a deserved equaliser. The England international saw his initial header from a Lennon cross parried out by Krul, but was the quickest to react to the rebound, smacking the ball home from point-blank range.
For all of Newcastle's powerful presence upfront, their best player by far was Ben Arfa, whose amazing dribbling skill proved to be the decider between the two sides. The Frenchman's tricky runs were beating the Spurs' defenders time and again, and handed the hosts a penalty when substitute Rafael Van der Vaart's trailing leg caught the winger inside the box, with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Ben Arfa dusted himself off and took over penalty duties, sending Friedel the wrong way to put the Magpies ahead for the second time in the game.
Spurs pushed for a late equaliser, and even brought on 19-year old Harry Kane in search of a goal, but their efforts proved fruitless, as last season's fifth-placed side beat the club who ended in fourth at the Sports Direct Arena.
Newcastle United (4-3-3) - Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Perch, Santon, Tiote, Cabaye (Anita 71'), Gutierrez, Ba (Obertan 85'), Cisse, Ben Arfa
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1) - Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto, Livermore, Sandro (Kane 86'), Lennon, Bale, Sigurdsson (Van der Vaart 68'), Defoe
Final Scoreline: Newcastle United 2 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur (Ba 54', Defoe 76', Ben Arfa 80')
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