Spurs sunk by fab five
Tottenham lose second spot to bitter rivals Arsenal
(Wijnaldum19, 73 pen, Mitrovic 39, Aarons 85, Janmaat 86)
Tottenham’s hopes of finishing a Premier League season above north London rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995 were left in tatters as relegated Newcastle turned on the style at St James’ Park.
As Rafael Benitez was subjected to a sustained chorus of affection from the St James’ Park fans, the under-performing Magpies saved their best performance of the season for the time it mattered least.
Two goals from Gini Wijnaldum, one for Aleksandar Mitrovic, plus late strikes from Daryl Janmaat and Rolando Aarons – the last two after Newcastle were reduced to 10 men following Mitrovic’s red card – sealed an extraordinary final day victory.
Coupled with Arsenal’s win over Aston Villa, it meant that Spurs – who had briefly reduced the deficit to 2-1 through Erik Lamela – would end a hugely promising season in third and behind the Gunners once again. It will come as scant consolation for Spurs that Harry Kane held on to his Golden Boot award despite barely threatening Karl Darlow’s goal, while the boost for already-doomed Newcastle will increase exponentially if Benitez is persuaded to stay for next season’s Championship campaign.
A low-key first half was notable only for the support for Benitez cascading around St James’ Park, and the inevitable plane hired by Sunderland fans trailing a banner reading: “Auf Wiedersehen Prem Tyne To Go”.
Christian Eriksen screwed the first shotwide for the visitors but the hosts settled better in the spring sunshine with Mitrovic in particular looking threatening as he sent an early effort squirming over the bar.
Newcastle’s more enthusiastic approach paid off in the 19th minute when Janmaat’s cross was only half-cleared by Toby Alderweireld and Mitrovic teed up Wijnaldum to poke home from close range.
Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris plucked a Mitrovic effort out of the air but the visitors, doubtless still afflicted after coming up short in the title race,were hardly playing like a side in search of north London bragging rights.
Four minutes after Kyle Walker ballooned a helpless effort over the bar, Mitrovic rose above the defender at the other end to head home from a Sissoko cross and send the pro-Benitez chants into overdrive. Eric Dier shot wide in the 55th minute as Spurs began their belated rally, then Kane’s first chance to confirm his place at the top of the scorers’ standings was denied by Jack Colback.
Lamela narrowed the deficit on the hour, ramming a shot through Darlow’s hands from a tight angle, and Spurs’ hopes increased in the 67th minute when Mitrovic was dismissed for a raking challenge on Walker.
Just three minutes later, however, Sissoko tumbled in the box under pressure from Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen, and Wijnaldum sent the resulting spot-kick past Lloris.
The hosts then had one of their best spells of the season, Sissoko bringing a brilliant save out of Lloris and Andros Townsend racing half the length of the pitch to fire at the keeper.
Substitute Aarons rammed home Newcastle’s fourth in the 86th minute, and one minute later, Newcastle’s dismal season finished on a faintly ridiculous high when Janmaat drove the fifth past Lloris.
Life after Martinez starts well for Toffees
(McCarthy 19, Baines 44 pen, Mirallas 48)
Everton made a winning start to the post-Roberto Martinez era, as keeper Tim Howard bade farewell to the Toffees with a clean sheet.
Only five home wins in the Premier League this season played a big part in Martinez’s demise but David Unsworth and Joe Royle, who were placed in temporary charge, were victorious at the first time of asking as Norwich were dispatched 3-0.
The relegated Canaries certainly did not offer the stiffest opposition and James McCarthy put the hosts ahead in the 19th minute, with Leighton Baines netting a penalty just before half-time.
Kevin Mirallas added the third three minutes after the break as the toxic atmosphere of recent months at Goodison Park was replaced by a stroll in the sunshine.