St James’ Park was delirious with joy after just 21 minutes, barely believing its eyes as Newcastle United took a 5-0 lead against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, eventually cruising to a 6-1 victory against its top four rival.
It was difficult to imagine a worse start for Spurs. In fact, there had only been one worse in the entire history of the Premier League, when Manchester City scored five goals in 19 minutes against Watford in September 2019, according to the statistics website OptaJoe.
But that year, City finished second and Watford were relegated. Newcastle against Spurs was supposed to be an evenly poised game, a showdown between fourth and fifth place, separated by just three points, and with a place in next season’s Champions League on the line.
Far from being evenly matched, it seemed as if Newcastle was playing in a different league in that opening 20 minutes as Tottenham manager Cristian Stellini’s experiment of playing with a back four backfired.
With their victory, the Magpies move up to third in the league, now with a six-point buffer and a game in hand over Spurs, and they take a big step towards their first qualification in the Champions League for two decades.
“It’s not often you have a start like that in a game, especially one of such importance,” Newcastle manager Eddie Howe told BBC Sport.
“I’m delighted with the whole group, a real team effort.”
The floodgates opened at the first instance of pressure, barely a minute in when Joelinton drifted into the box, rifled the ball towards the net, and Lloris’ parry fell at Joe Murphy’s feet who made no mistake with the finish.
Every attack seemed to yield a corner, an opportunity, a shot on goal and Newcastle continued to press while Tottenham’s defense continued to buckle. Less than five minutes later, Fabian Schär hoofed the ball upfield from the halfway line and found Joelinton in space who beat Lloris with a brilliant finish.
Stunned, Tottenham began backing off the ball and Murphy capitalized when Spurs lost possession deep in their own half, firing the ball into the goal past Lloris for a third goal in less than 10 minutes.
“I wasn’t surprised, I was just happy to see it go in, when I struck it I knew it was a clean strike,” Murphy told Sky Sports.
“It means everything, I always want to add value whether I’m starting or coming off on the bench, everyone wants to do it.”
Ten minutes later, a single pass once again unlocked Tottenham’s defense, this time Joe Willock found Alexander Isak with a floated pass from the halfway line and the Swede found the back of the net.
And then, barely two minutes after kickoff, there was another for Isak who made it five goals for the Tyneside club in 21 minutes.
Harry Kane pulled one back for Spurs after halftime, a glorious solo effort as he danced down the wing and found the back of the net with effortless ease.
But it was no matter, as Callum Wilson restored Newcastle’s five-goal advantage midway through the second half with his team’s sixth.
The result leaves Tottenham teetering on the brink of missing out on European football next season as the club sits within striking distance of Aston Villa, Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League table.
“It’s very embarrassing,” Lloris told Sky Sports afterwards. “We should apologize to the fans. We didn’t show a good face and we could not match the performance of the Newcastle players.”