Shock ending ruins Ange’s Aussie homecoming

Tottenham Hotspur FC v Newcastle United FC
Ange wasn’t happy. Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

Newcastle United have played the role of party-poopers for Ange Postecoglou’s long-awaited homecoming to his native Melbourne on Wednesday night.

The Magpies won their English Premier League friendly against Postecoglou’s Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1 after regulation time in front of 78,419 fans at a drizzly MCG.

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Considering the biggest crowd for a competitive match that Tottenham have played in front of is 85,512, against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League at Wembley in 2016/17, and Newcastle’s is 68,386 in the old First Division almost a century ago, it puts into perspective just how huge the turnout was.

News of a penalty shootout certainly came as a surprise to Postecoglou who was clearly taken aback when he was informed of it as he searched for Newcastle counterpart Eddie Howe to shake his hand after the final whistle.

Tottenham Hotspur F.C v Newcastle United F.C.
Ange received a hero’s welcome to the MCG. Picture: Mark Stewart

The decisive moment of the shootout came with the first spot kick when Bryan Gil’s shot was saved by Newcastle’s Mark Gillespie. Harrison Ashby scored the last penalty to deliver the Magpies the win.

After a relatively uneventful opening half-hour, Tottenham broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope laconically gave the ball straight to James Maddison on a platter in the box.

The Spurs vice-captain obliged by zigzagging his way through Newcastle’s defence and fired it past Pope who got a hand on it but not enough to stop it from rippling the net.

However, the goal should have been disallowed because Maddison clearly used his hand to control the ball in the lead-up.

It wasn’t exactly Diego Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ goal, but with no VAR in operation, the goal stood.

James Maddison has scored the first goal in the Spurs vs Newcastle United game at the MCG

Tottenham Hotspur FC v Newcastle United FC
A goal is a goal. Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

Just before halftime, Newcastle equalised when Jacob Murphy crossed it into a dangerous area and while uncapped Spurs custodian Brandon Austin managed to get a hand to it, all he was able to do was place it right onto the boot of Alexander Isak who guided it home from point-blank range past the grounded Austin.

Fiery start

The pre-game entertainment was almost as eventful as the match itself.

Amid the myriad pyrotechnics, there was a magnificent montage on the big screens documenting Postecoglou’s successful rise as a world-class manager all the way from South Melbourne to Spurs in the EPL.

There was a trumpeter’s rendition of “Oh When The Spurs Go Marching In”, and a huge group of Newcastle fans at the Punt Road end were waving black-and-white flags in unison.

The Spurs were greeted by adoring fans with some receiving jerseys from the players

While Postecoglou predictably received a massive round of applause when he strutted out onto the hallowed turf, he was actually upstaged by his captain Son Heung-min, who received the loudest cheer with a strong Korean contingent in the stands.

Kuol arrives

There was also decent recognition from the crowd for Newcastle’s Aussie product Garang Kuol when his name got read out over the PA, and he got an even bigger cheer when he entered the game in the 71st minute for his maiden Newcastle game after spending his first season there on loan with Dutch side Volendam.

He capped his first Newcastle appearance by scoring in the penalty shootout with a perfectly-placed shot that flew past Spurs goalie Alfie Whiteman.

Tottenham Hotspur FC v Newcastle United FC
Garang Kuol was a crowd favourite. Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

Stars come out

The match provided a great opportunity for the Melbourne public to see some of the world’s best players up close and personal such as Newcastle duo Isak and Kieran Trippier as well as Spurs pair Son and Maddison.

Son was industrious down the left and showed why he is arguably the greatest Asian player of all time as he created quite a few threatening plays for Tottenham. He exited the game after an hour to a huge ovation. Tripper was subbed off in the 37th minute after a decent, spritely shift.