A DELIGHTED Steve Bruce felt his Newcastle United players ‘silenced their critics’ in style as they pulled off the biggest shock of the Premier League season so far with a 1-0 victory at Tottenham.

Joelinton’s first-half winner secured Bruce’s first success as Magpies manager, and provided an immediate riposte to the mounting criticism that had built in the wake of successive defeats to Arsenal and Norwich City.

Bruce felt some of the more pointed abuse that was levelled in the wake of his side’s 3-1 reverse at Carrow Road was unjustified, but accepted he would only be able to dampen things down if his side produced the goods on the pitch.

They delivered in style at White Hart Lane, with a defensive masterclass restricting Tottenham to a handful of opportunities and Newcastle’s counter-attacking prowess enabling them to complete a successful smash-and-grab raid.

“I think we all understand criticism, but for me, a lot of it has been unjust and unfair, but the only thing you can do to quieten the storm is always to find a performance and result,” said Bruce. “Nobody gave us a hope in hell’s chance, let’s be brutally honest, but the way they’ve performed defensively and on the counter-attack was great to see.

“We didn’t play well last week, and being Newcastle, everything gets scrutinised. I was even answering questions on Friday about a warm-up, it’s quite remarkable. Some of what I’ve had to put up with is disappointing, I’ve managed something like 950 games now, so to be levelled that you can’t set a team up, or tactically you’re this, that or the other, I find disappointing, that’s the right word. But you can only go and do what they’ve done today.

“I’m delighted for the staff and the players in particular. We’ve worked on the system all week, tactics, organisation, and what have you. For them to go and nail it as they did was brilliant, especially at one of the big platforms in Europe, not just the Premier League.”

Bruce was delighted with his side’s defensive resolve as they kept their first clean sheet of the season, with Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett especially impressive at the heart of Newcastle’s back five.

At the other end of the pitch, Joelinton ran himself into the ground as a lone striker, chasing lost causes, closing down opponents, and displaying impressive composure as he controlled Christian Atsu’s first-half cross before slotting home.

“He’s only been at the club a month,” said Bruce. “I thought we could play to his strengths better because if you get the ball in to him, you can be pretty direct with him. He’s got a left foot and a right foot, and when you come for a lot of money and you’re a centre-forward, you want to get off the mark and score.

“He had a big chance against Norwich, but today, his touch and the way he’s taken it, was excellent. I’m delighted for him.”

Joelinton was one of a number of Newcastle’s walking wounded at the final whistle, but Bruce is confident the Brazilian was exhausted rather than injured as he hobbled off in the closing stages.

He does not expect Lascelles’ calf problem to be serious, but admits he is more worried at the recurrence of a hamstring injury that forced Allan Saint-Maximin off in the first half.

“Saint-Maximin is a recurrence of a hamstring, and that’s a nightmare for us unfortunately,” said Bruce. “The other ones, we’re not too worried about, although whether they’re going to be ready for Wednesday is another big call.

“Certainly Saint-Maximin is the most difficult one because he’s had a recurrence of a hamstring, which is a shame for him. Big Joe has run himself to a standstill I think. Jamaal has got a calf, but we don’t think it’s too serious.”

Lascelles was involved in a key moment with 12 minutes left, with the Newcastle skipper bringing Harry Kane tumbling to the floor as he stumbled in the box. Referee Mike Dean waved on, and his decision not to award a penalty was supported by a judgement from the VAR.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty, the referee on the pitch didn’t think it was a penalty, and more importantly, the guy who referees VAR, sitting in a studio somewhere by Heathrow Airport, didn’t think it was either,” said Bruce. “I think it was the right decision, and thankfully we’ve got it today.”

Newcastle’s surprise win followed hot on the heels of England’s dramatic cricketing success in Headingley, with Bruce having been glued to Ben Stokes’ batting heroics in the minutes before kick-off.

“The players had gone for a warm-up and there’s nothing really you can do then,” he said. “I usually sit and read the programme and have that half-hour of calmness. But how could I get that? The kitman was running around like a blue-arsed fly saying, ‘We need 27 more – get it on’. I have to say it was wonderful entertainment, it was better than reading the programme that’s for sure.”