Asprilla and Ginola light up Newcastle

Newcastle United 4 Ferencvaros 0 Newcastle win 6-3 on agg
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The Independent Online
Faustino Asprilla may be a particularly idiosyncratic variation on the theme of football enigmas but Newcastle United's pounds 7.5m puzzle does have one consistent habit.

For Colombia, he scored twice in that stunning 5-0 World Cup qualifying win in Argentina three years ago. For Parma, he struck the goal that put them into the 1993 European Cup-Winners' Cup final - plus the one that ended Milan's 58-match unbeaten run. For Newcastle last night, the South American struck the vital goal that put England's sole survivors on course for a place in the Uefa Cup's last 16.

Then the half-price stand-in for the pounds 15m Alan Shearer scored again, and Ferencvaros were already reaching for their passports by the time David Ginola, three times a semi-finalist in Europe with Paris St-Germain, stamped a goal of world - let alone European - class on a night that will be long remembered on Tyneside.

It mattered not that Les Ferdinand had strayed into what looked suspiciously like offside territory when, two minutes into injury time, the one English scorer of the night applied the finishing touch to an all-out offensive job handsomely done by the Premiership's great entertainers.

"When you're drooling over Real Madrid and Barcelona get out a tape of tonight's game and you'll see something better," Kevin Keegan said. "It was breathtaking. For me it eclipsed our performance against Manchester United. There are stunning teams left in the competition and the most stunning are Newcastle United."

Though Newcastle's European stock remains to be conclusively proven, Keegan's euphoria was understandable. He sent out a team with just three defenders and watched his tactical ploy reap rich rewards as the champions of Hungary were swept aside.

Asprilla's unorthodox probing did much of the damage last night. His trickery drew the challenge from Zoltan Jagodics that earned Newcastle a questionable penalty in the 22nd minute and, though Peter Beardsley's effort clipped the outside of the post, before half-time Asprilla overturned the one-goal deficit Newcastle carried into the second leg.

He found the back of the net with a close-range shot in the goalmouth scramble that followed Keith Gillespie's inswinging corner in the 43rd minute, and claimed his second goal two minutes before the hour, beating Jozsef Szeiler with a firm, side-footed shot. Then, with 64 minutes gone, Ginola produced the finish of all finishes.

Trapping the ball on his chest, he flicked it over his marker with his right foot and then hooked a volley with his left from the right angle of the area. "One of the best I've ever scored," the Frenchman mused. Nobody was going to argue.

Keegan, however, did take to task the Ferencvaros player who arrived on Tyneside declaring Newcastle were "only half a team without Alan Shearer".

"If that's true," the Newcastle manager said, "when he comes back we'll be a hell of a team." That, according to the player himself last night, should be in no more than five weeks.

Newcastle United (3-5-2): Srnicek; Peacock, Albert, Elliott; Gillespie (Barton, 90), Beardsley, Batty, Lee, Ginola; Asprilla, Ferdinand. Substitutes not used: Kitson, Watson, Clark, Hislop (gk).

Ferencvaros (5-4-1): Szeiler; Nyilas, Hrutka, Kuznetsov (Arany, 54), Telek, Szucs; N Nagy, Jagodics (Hollo, 63), Miriuta (Zavadszky, 31), Horvath; Nichenko. Substitutes not used: T Nagy, Simon.

Referee: S Khussainov (Russia).

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