Newcastle United 0, Tottenham Hotspur 2
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino praised midfielder Dele Alli after he sidestepped a potential fracas to help Spurs make a winning start to the new Premier League season on Sunday.
Alli – admonished by Pochettino for losing his temper in previous seasons – kept his cool when trodden on by Jonjo Shelvey, an offence that earned the Newcastle captain a 48th-minute red card.
The 21-year-old then put Tottenham in front moments later when he converted a cross from Christian Eriksen, who later teed up left-back Ben Davies to slot the visitors’ second goal.
“He was calm. That is important,” said Pochettino. “Remember last season we talked a lot about that, how we need to improve, to behave and learn. He’s so mature enough now to accept sometime all that happens on the pitch.
“He’s so calm, so brave. He then scored a great goal. I’m very happy and very pleased. He needs to improve. He is a little bit not in his best expression, but he is coming.”
Pochettino also defended Harry Kane after Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez suggested that the Spurs striker’s tackle on Florian Lejeune, which ended the Magpies defender’s debut, had been a worse crime than Shelvey’s.
“No, I think it’s different,” he added. “I saw the action. With the ball in the middle sometimes you can’t see, with or without the ball in another way. In another side it’s completely different. It’s not fair to say they deserve the same punishment.”
Tottenham controlled possession but the newly-promoted hosts threatened on the break until Shelvey’s dismissal handed Spurs an even greater advantage – and they quickly capitalised.
Just 13 minutes after the red card Eriksen picked out Alli’s burst into the penalty area with a clipped ball and, at full stretch, the former MK Dons trainee guided the ball past Rob Elliot.
Eriksen and Alli were both involved again when Davies made the result safe in the 70th minute, the Wales defender sweeping the ball of the Dane’s foot and past Elliot after a one-touch move.