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Ange soaks up special homecoming despite Spurs loss

3 minute read

Tottenham have marked Ange Postecoglou's hotly anticipated return to Melbourne with a loss to Newcastle United on penalties at the MCG.

Ange Postecoglou.
Ange Postecoglou. Picture: AAP Image

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has soaked up the "special" experience of bringing the Premier League giants to his hometown Melbourne despite a friendly loss on penalties to Newcastle United.

James Maddison's goal in the 31st minute, after a sustained period of dominance from Spurs, broke the deadlock before Alex Isak responded in the 45th.

Australian young gun Garang Kuol, 19, made his Newcastle debut in the 71st minute and with the scores locked at 1-1 at fulltime, Wednesday's game went straight to penalties.

In front of a bumper crowd of 78,419 fans, Kuol took Newcastle's fourth penalty and converted, with Eddie Howe's charges winning the shootout 5-4.

It was a warm welcome home for Postecoglou, one of Melbourne's favourite sons.

A highlights package of Postecoglou's playing and coaching journey played on the MCG big screen before the game, to the home fans' delight.

Postecoglou noted the game had dropped off as both clubs turned to their bench after halftime, but was delighted with the early intensity.

Admitting that he was caught off guard by the "surprise penalty shootout" but was happy that it "gave punters a little bit extra" at the end of the match, Postecoglou added: "It was a decent game, I thought we played really well actually.

"And it was important because as I said to the lads before the game it's 80,000 people here and it wasn't that long ago I was on the other side of the fence and I used to get hugely disappointed if I thought overseas clubs came here and sort of just went through the motions.

"Obviously the last few years have moved along, it seems like pretty rapidly, to where I am today.

"But it was nice tonight because it wasn't that long ago and in an alternate universe I would have been on the other side of the fence watching the game because that was my kind of existence for a very long time.

"So to be in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world, to bring them back to my hometown and play in front of 80,000 - yeah, it's pretty special and I feel pretty blessed to be in the position."

Maddison joked post-match that Postecoglou was "quite popular" and relished the "warm welcome" from the Melbourne crowd.

Perhaps the only person in the MCG to upstage Postecoglou was South Korean superstar captain Son Heung-min.

Son received a raucous applause when named and there were squeals of delight whenever he touched the ball during his hour on the park.

Spurs took the lead via a howler from Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope, whose attempted clearance picked out Maddison.

The playmaker danced around Newcastle's defence and finished with aplomb.

Newcastle's Kieran Trippier was withdrawn for Jacob Murphy after just 37 minutes in a pre-planned substitution.

Newcastle equalised on the counter when Murphy's cross forced Brandon Austin to clear the ball away but the Tottenham goalkeeper parried it straight to Isak, who tapped home.

Fringe Socceroo Kuol, who has had tough loan stints at Scottish club Hearts and Dutch outfit Volendam since joining Newcastle last January, entered the fray with 20 minutes to go.

He played as a central striker but saw little of the ball before taking his moment in the shootout.

Howe said it was an opportunity for Kuol to "showcase his talents".

"Difficult game to come into - we didn't have a lot of the ball, we went to a slightly younger team," Howe said.

"So then it was a case of just defending and seeing the game out in that way and I thought he contributed to that and took his penalty really well.

"So I'm delighted for him."

The post-season friendly was Spurs's last game before their break while Newcastle will back up against the A-League Men All Stars at Marvel Stadium on Friday evening.

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