Bergkamp makes the case for imports

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers 1 Arsenal 1

It is unlikely that anyone leaving Loftus Road on Saturday could have avoided mentioning one name, regardless of their allegiance. Almost inevitably these days, the memorable moment of this London derby was provided by a foreigner.

Dennis Bergkamp has the kind of ability that can cut right through tribal enmities. Only the most myopic of Arsenal haters could have failed to admire his contribution. His equalising goal was simply stunning, and much else he did was beyond the imaginings of most around him.

Even Ray Wilkins, who had just seen the Dutchman deprive his side of two vital points in their campaign to avoid relegation, had nothing but praise for him.

"It was a bit of a finish, wasn't it?" the QPR manager said, in characteristic English understatement, of Bergkamp's first-time shot from Lee Dixon's low cross. "A lot of players, especially running in at that pace, would have been pleased to get it on the target, but he just lashed it in the roof of the net."

The talking point in the match programme was whether the presence of players like Bergkamp is good for the English game. Wilkins is in no doubt that his team learned from being on the same pitch as the Dutchman, and he is sure there are benefits from a corner of every English field being forever foreign. "It was actually nice to watch him play today, wasn't it?"

There was no question about it. Few others would have thought to dart infield to find space at a throw-in, confident that when the ball arrived they could back-heel it out to the wing first time, on the run. Few could have disguised turns and touches the way he did all afternoon to create and exploit space and leave defenders floundering and unsettled.

Without Bergkamp and those who came closest to rivalling his skill and vision - Paul Merson, and QPR's Trevor Sinclair and Andy Impey - it could have been a grim afternoon.

Wilkins will find the next four matches a test, not least of his enthusiasm for foreign skills. Tony Yeboah (Leeds), Dwight Yorke (Aston Villa), Eric Cantona (Manchester United) and Gullit (Chelsea) could do terminal damage to QPR's chances of Premiership survival before the end of the month.

Goals: Gallen (20) 1-0; Bergkamp (49) 1-1.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Bardsley, Ready, Yates, Challis; Holloway, Impey (Dichio, 59), Barker, Quashie; Gallen, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Goodridge, Plummer.

Arsenal (3-5-2): Seaman; Keown, Linighan, Morrow (Rose, h-t); Dixon, Platt, Parlour, Merson, Winterburn; Bergkamp, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Hillier, Hughes.

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).

Booking: Arsenal: Dixon.

Man of the match: Bergkamp. Attendance: 17,790.

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