London – Darren Bent got the only goal as Tottenham Hotspur beat Newcastle United 1-0 in the English Premier League on Sunday to heighten the relegation fears of Alan Shearer’s side.
Newcastle lie second from bottom, four points from safety with five games of the season remaining.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are only a point off seventh place and qualification for the Europa League.
Although Newcastle mounted a late rally, Tottenham’s victory was far more comfortable than the 1-0 margin may suggest.
Victories for Sunderland and Portsmouth on Saturday had increased the pressure on Newcastle, and they responded with a sluggish first half.
Tottenham, without really seeming to play at full pace, comfortably dominated possession, and it seemed only a matter of time before they took the lead.
Newcastle centre-back Sebastian Bassong might have been sent off when he seemed to bring down Bent in a goal-scoring position in the first minute, but if he was lucky then, he was unfortunate for Tottenham’s opener, when it did arrive after 24 minutes.
Spurs broke quickly, and as Luka Modric tried to slide in Robbie Keane, Bassong made the interception.
The ball, though, fell kindly for Bent. His initial attempt to cross was cut out by goalkeeper Steve Harper, but he tucked in the rebound.
Tom Huddlestone, who had already hit three sumptuous long passes, then had two long-range drives tipped over by Harper.
A lengthy break for an injury to Spurs centre-back Michael Dawson gave Newcastle the opportunity to switch from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, but Tottenham’s control of possession continued unabated, and Bent missed a sitter from Alan Hutton’s cross on the stroke of half-time.
Steven Taylor was forced off at the break by an Achilles tendon injury. He was replaced by Alan Smith, with Habib Beye moving into the centre and Damien Duff dropping in at left back.
The bigger change to the flow of the game, though, came with the introduction of Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins on the hour.
Newcastle suddenly offered a threat, although Lennon flashed an effort just wide, having accelerated away from Duff.
They found an unexpected late equaliser against Stoke City last week, and Martins almost repeated the feat, stealing in front of Jonathan Woodgate, only to blaze the bouncing ball over from close range.
This time, though, there was no reprieve. (dpa)