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Ange Postecoglou hails ‘really important’ Richarlison after brace in Spurs win

Richarlison scored twice on his return to the Tottenham starting line-up (Ian Walton/AP)
Richarlison scored twice on his return to the Tottenham starting line-up (Ian Walton/AP)

Ange Postecoglou paid tribute to Tottenham forward Richarlison after his brace downed Newcastle and earned them their first victory since October 27.

Spurs were Premier League leaders at the beginning of November, but had endured a barren run since after a succession of injuries and failed to win any of their last five matches despite taking the lead in each fixture.

It was a different story this time with Ange Postecoglou’s team selection paying dividends with the recalled Richarlison scoring twice after Destiny Udogie broke the deadlock in the 26th minute.

Son Heung-min, who was shifted back to left wing, grabbed the fourth after claiming two assists but the night belonged to fit-again Richarlison, who has struggled since his £60million move last year and recently had groin surgery to correct a long-standing issue.

“Yeah, Richy was great, really important,” Postecoglou reflected.

“I thought him and Pape (Sarr) coming in gave us some real energy. We were going to need it today with the midweek fixture (against West Ham) and I thought they did that.

“Obviously for Richy, getting a couple of goals as a striker that was positive for him.

Richarlison scored in both halves in the victory over Newcastle
Richarlison scored in both halves in the victory over Newcastle (John Walton/PA)

“Richy was important to us at the start of the year too, but he wasn’t fully fit. I think you could tell he was kind of restricted with his movements.

“At times we had to play him out wide just to get him through games. Since he’s come back, it’s fair to say he feels a lot better physically and I think that’s helped him mentally as well.

“Great for him to get two goals today, but it wasn’t just his goals, it was his general work-rate, energy and physicality.”

When Richarlison underwent surgery last month, it helped tip Tottenham’s list of absentees into double figures, but the storm is starting to calm following a five-match winless run.

Tottenham sealed their first win in five games
Tottenham sealed their first win in five games (John Walton/PA)

Postecoglou added: “We’re trying to build something here and part of that is through the tough periods to not allow the lads too much latitude in terms of excuses, but the reality is, and I have probably been too hard on them in retrospect, we got decimated after the Chelsea game.

“And it is no coincide that now we are getting some players back that we are starting to look a lot stronger.

“I will not speak on Eddie Howe’s behalf, but I can see what he’s going through and in this league if you have one or two key players out, you’re going to struggle.

“Hopefully we’re coming out the other side and just having Richy and Pape back today, making those two changes after a midweek game and Eddie couldn’t make any changes, I just felt we had more energy and legs and we needed it today.”

Newcastle boss Howe was able to welcome Sean Longstaff and Callum Wilson back into the matchday squad, but his unchanged team looked tired following Thursday’s 3-0 loss at Everton.

It does not get any easier for the Magpies with a must-win Champions League tie at home to AC Milan on Wednesday.

“Yeah, it was a difficult afternoon,” Howe admitted.

Eddie Howe admitted it was a tough afternoon for his Newcastle outfit
Eddie Howe admitted it was a tough afternoon for his Newcastle outfit (John Walton/PA)

“I think the players have done so well to keep going in what was a very congested fixture period of games with very hard fixtures.

“Everton and Tottenham away in a very short period of time, we haven’t been our best. That is very evident for everyone to see.

“I think the players have given everything, given everything they could give so I have to back them and support them, but acknowledge our performance was way off what it should be.”