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Eriksen, Alli inspire Tottenham to victory at Newcastle in season opener

Eriksen, Alli inspire Tottenham to victory at Newcastle in season opener
From ESPN - August 13, 2017

Tottenham are up and running in the Premier League after enjoying a 2-0 opening-day victory away against returning bogey team Newcastle.

The Magpies had won five of their previous eight top-flight meetings, doing the double over the Lilywhites when they were relegated in 2015-16. They frustrated Spurs again in the first half at St. James' Park on Sunday, too, but the 48th-minute dismissal of Jonjo Shelvey ruined Rafael Benitez's plans, and Mauricio Pochettino's visitors pounced.

Dele Alli got the breakthrough just after the hour-mark and Ben Davies doubled the lead in the 70th minute, with Christian Eriksen setting up both goals.

Positives

Kyle Walker-Peters, a member of the England squad that won the Under-20 World Cup this summer, made his first competitive appearance -- playing from the start -- and enjoyed a strong debut.

Up front, Spurs eventually showed their teeth. Eriksen is starting the campaign brightly, having scored twice in pre-season and now set up two goals against Newcastle, while Alli is off the mark and Harry Kane was close to scoring on a few occasions.

At the other end of the field, Tottenham showed their customary defensive solidity while Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea have all conceded three goals this weekend.

Negatives

Those hoping that Moussa Sissoko might be better in his second season at Spurs and start to justify his 30 million fee will be feeling discouraged again. The France international was named in the starting line-up but was taken off less than 15 minutes into the second half. Will he still be at the club in September?

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Pochettino's faith in Walker-Peters paid off, and he was quick to withdraw the under-performing Sissoko.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Hugo Lloris, 7 -- A safe pair of hands throughout, claiming crosses over his head, coming off his line to snuff out through balls and holding onto the shots that came his way.

RB Kyle Walker-Peters, 7 -- A debut to remember. Things could have gone very wrong when he fouled Dwight Gayle in the box in the first half, but the Newcastle striker was flagged offside and the Spurs youngster grew in confidence from there, making important tackles and interventions while showing confidence going forward.

CB Toby Alderweireld, 7 -- Not quite at his best, as Newcastle got past or behind him a couple of times, but he played his part in a clean sheet and helped Walker-Peters through the match.

CB Jan Vertonghen, 7 -- Lacked options for passes in the first half but kept trying to build from the back and was sound defensively.

LB Ben Davies, 8 -- Just keeps improving. Danny Rose has generally been the more dynamic player in the final third but Davies has now scored in his last two competitive matches, finding the net at Hull on the final day of last season and now at St James' Park too.

CM Eric Dier, 6 -- Could perhaps have got more involved in the first half, given the attention being paid to Mousa Dembele, but then again his movement between defence and midfield is a key tactical weapon and Spurs were victorious in the end.

CM Mousa Dembele, 7 -- Found himself closely marked by Ayoze Perez in the first half as Benitez recognised the Belgium international's importance to Spurs' build-up play. But Dembele got more space in the second period and his team benefited.

MF Moussa Sissoko, 4 -- Deserved his start after a good performance against Juventus in Spurs' final friendly, but offered little on either flank and was substituted shortly before the visitors took the lead.

MF Dele Alli, 8 -- Had a fairly quiet first half but, as is so often the case, he suddenly exploded into life with a key contribution, this time the opening goal. The 21-year-old was also involved in the intricate passing move that produced Spurs' second strike.

MF Christian Eriksen, 9 -- Spurs' liveliest player in a generally underwhelming first half, the Denmark international was the architect of Tottenham's victory in the final 30 minutes, delivering a trademark chip from the right side to set up Alli's goal and then laying on the assist for Davies as well. His fine start to the campaign bodes well.

FW Harry Kane, 7 -- Played his part in Alli's opener, shifting the ball to Eriksen on the edge of the box, but he was unable to score himself, seeing a close-range shot saved and then hitting the post late on.

Substitutes

MF Heung-Min Son, 7 -- Returned from an arm injury just before the hour mark and nearly set up two late goals, twice freeing Kane in the box. On the first occasion his teammate hit the post while the second time around, the ensuing goal was disallowed for offside.

MF Victor Wanyama, NR -- Made his own comeback from a leg problem, replacing Alli inside the final 10 minutes.

MF Harry Winks, NR -- Got a brief cameo appearance, taking to the field in the final moments in place of Dembele.

Ben is ESPN FC's Tottenham blogger. Follow on Twitter: @BenPearceSpurs.

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