(CNN) -- Tottenham's 1-0 win over Newcastle boosted their hopes of European football next season and left Alan Shearer's team ever closer to relegation from the Premier League.
Tottenham goalscorer Bent is mobbed by teammates after his 24th minute strike.
Darren Bent's 24th minute goal left Tottenham in ninth, but only one point behind seventh-placed West Ham and a likely qualifying spot for the Europa League.
By contrast, Newcastle remain in 19th and four points from safety with five games to go.
Shearer, brought in by owner Mike Ashley to replace the convalescing Joe Kinnear, was at a loss to explain his side's lackluster display for much of the match.
"I've just said to them, very pleased with the second half but give me an explanation why there's no urgency like that from minute one," Shearer told Press Association.
"We have our own ideas, our own theory as to why but we have to start games in the first minute like we finish them in the last 30 minutes."
Tottenham started by far the brighter and Bent had already tested Steve Harper when he was finished a flowing home move.
Luka Modric's attempted pass to Robbie Keane came to him off Sebastien Bassong and he found the net at the second attempt.
Harry Redknapp's team remained on top and Modric's shot deflected off Bassong on the line for Harper to save before Bent headed over from Alan Hutton's pinpoint cross to the far post.
Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone enjoyed an excellent match and he twice went close with long-range strikes after the break.
Shearer threw on Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka to partner Michael Owen in a three-man attack and it nearly paid dividends but Martins blasted over from close range with three minutes left.
Redknapp, who took charge of Tottenham with them rock bottom with two points from eight games, was delighted with another home victory.
"It was a good win and another clean sheet. We had opportunities to score more but I was pleased -- our defensive record is incredible.
"You win 1-0 and that's what good teams do."
In Sunday's other Premier League match Manchester City beat rock-bottom West Bromwich Albion 4-2 at Eastlands.
Robinho and Nedum Onuoha put City ahead but two goals either side of half time by Chris Brunt gave Albion a lifeline.
But Elano's penalty and a Daniel Sturridge strike in injury time left the visitors nine points from safety and seemingly doomed.