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Toon fight back to hold Spurs

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16 Oct 2011 17:59:00

Toon fight back to hold Spurs

ewcastle twice came from behind to extend their unbeaten Premier League record and earn a 2-2 draw with Tottenham at St James' Park on Sunday. Local hero Shola Ameobi came off the bench to blast home his side's second equaliser four minutes from time as a pulsating encounter ended all square. Jermain Defoe looked to have won it for the visitors when he fired past Tim Krul with 68 minutes gone, but Ameobi denied Spurs a fifth successive Premier League win to the delight of the majority of the 46,420 crowd. Rafael van der Vaart had put Harry Redknapp's men ahead from the penalty spot five minutes before the break, but Demba Ba's equaliser - his fifth goal in three games - within three minutes of the restart set the scene for the late drama. Newcastle ran out knowing they were facing perhaps the toughest test of their campaign to date, but confident that they could come through it. For 40 minutes, they gave as good as they got in a game in which the impetus repeatedly shifted between the sides. Spurs started brightly with Gareth Bale having been switched to the right wing to chance his arm against makeshift left-back Ryan Taylor. In the event, the former Wigan man coped admirably and long before half-time Bale returned to his more usual position on the left, leaving Taylor to deal with Luka Modric instead. The visitors passed the ball confidently in the opening exchanges with Newcastle old boy Scott Parker and Modric prominent, and Emmanuel Adebayor, whose participation was in doubt because of a hamstring injury, stretching the home defence at regular intervals. That said, chances were few and far between, and although Krul had to race from his line to snatch van der Vaart's seventh-minute through-ball off Adebayor's toe and then pluck a looping Jake Livermore header out of the air four minutes later, there were few genuine scares for the Dutchman. As the half wore on, the Magpies warmed to their task and with wide-men Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Gutierrez causing problems and Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote edging things in the middle of the pitch, they started to threaten. Leon Best only just failed to get a toe to Ryan Taylor's driven 13th-minute free-kick and Ba headed straight at keeper Brad Friedel from Cabaye's cross 11 minutes later. But the breakthrough arrived five minutes before half-time, and it did so to the horror of Newcastle defender Steven Taylor. Taylor tracked Adebayor's run into the penalty area and saw the former Togo international go down under his challenge. Referee Lee Probert took his time with the defender protesting his innocence but eventually pointed to the spot and, amid a cacophony of boos from the home fans, van der Vaart sent Krul the wrong way to open the scoring. Ba headed high over from Cabaye's 42nd-minute cross as the Magpies attempted to drag themselves back into the game, but they headed for the dressing room on the whistle knowing they had a tough task on their hands. Newcastle needed just three minutes to get themselves back on terms, and they did so in some style as Gutierrez produced a wonderful, mazy run. The Argentina international skipped pass Modric and then full-back Kyle Walker on the left before crossing for the unmarked Ba to slide in and send the ball goalwards, where Friedel could only carry it into his own net. Sensing an opportunity to win the game, the Magpies piled forward in numbers, but in doing so, opened themselves up to Spurs' pace on the counter-attack. Adebayor fired across the face of goal and van der Vaart shot straight at Krul with the home defence struggling to keep the visitors at bay. But in the meantime, Obertan had whistled a 56th-minute drive just wide of Friedel's far post in a frenetic passage of play. Redknapp opted for even more pace with 63 minutes gone when he replaced van der Vaart with Defoe, and the newcomer wasted little time in making his mark. Having already forced Krul to sprint from his line to cut out Parker's through-ball, he turned smartly on the midfielder's pass to thump a left-footed shot past the keeper and into the bottom corner. Pardew threw on Hatem Ben Arfa and Ameobi after withdrawing Ba and Best with 19 minutes remaining, and it was the home side which finished the stronger. Friedel had to pull off fine saves from Tiote and then Ryan Taylor as time ran down, but there was nothing he could do to prevent Ameobi from snatching a point with his drilled 86th-minute strike. Defoe and Fabricio Coloccini both might have won it in a breathless conclusion, but the spoils were ultimately shared.


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