Awesome Shearer : FOOTBALL

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 4

Shearer 3, 29, pen 90, Sherwood 49

Ipswich Town 1

Wark pen 76

After all that has happened in the last few days, it seems scarcely credible that a week ago it was Blackburn feeling the world was against them. Disliked for being rich and accused of being dull with it, their defeat at Old Trafford, contentious though it was, did not exactly bring them overwhelming sympathy.

Seven days on, however, their manager Kenny Dalglish wore the look of a contented man after watching Ipswich's recent revival brushed aside at Ewood Park. Rovers are now four points clear at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand. What is more, they look in ominously good order. No one more so than Alan Shearer, who rattled off his third hat-trick of the season in awesome fashion, raising his total to 26.

Two superbly struck shots had Ipswich trailing 2-0 inside the opening half-hour. Tim Sherwood added Blackburn's third four minutes into the second half after Chris Sutton's effort had been bundled against a post before Shearer completed his treble from the penalty spot in the last minute. John Wark had by then earned Ipswich a consolation. "If you give Alan Shearer the room we gave him you are going to be punished," George Burley, the Ipswich manager, said. Dalglish was lost in admiration. "It is a testimony to the lad that he is only 24 and already everything that can be said about him has been said," he commented.

Lee Chapman, on his full Ipswich debut, saw a header cleared off the line but it was a rotten afternoon for the relegations candidates, in particular for the defender Phil Whelan. His error allowed Shearer the opportunity to beat Forrest after only two minutes. Whelan also opened the way for Sherwood's goal with a miskicked clearance and it was his lunge on Shearer that brought the penalty.

Ipswich never dropped their heads but the abiding memory will be of Shearer, above all his second goal, a wonderful, swerving drive from 15 yards after he had cut in from the left.

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