Football: Dabizas settles dispute

Newcastle United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
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The Independent Online
IT WAS never likely to be just another day at the office for David Ginola. Having included Alan Shearer on his critical list in his address to the Oxford Union last week, the Newcastle United old boy was guaranteed a less than cordial reception on his return to St James' Park yesterday.

Thus it proved, Shearer - accused by his erstwhile colleague of "playing purely on his name" - extending his own personal welcome with a robust 33rd-minute challenge that earned the England captain a ticking off from Paul Alcock for standing over the fallen Frenchman and questioning his vertical stability.

Mr Alcock may have gained a reputation for being something of a pushover himself but he was unimpressed when Ginola, in a huff at not being awarded what appeared to be a plausible free-kick seven minutes later, remained prostrate and protesting for more than a minute.

Victimised by the referee and vilified by the crowd, the yellow-carded Ginola released his frustration with a gesture of defiance to the Toon Army after supplying the sweeping right-wing cross from which Chris Armstrong tapped in Tottenham's goal a minute before half-time.

It was Shearer and Newcastle, though, who enjoyed the last laugh. They had led from the fifth minute, Stephen Glass heading in Nolberto Solano's measured cross after Shearer had released the little Peruvian down the right.

They would have been 2-0 ahead had Steffen Freund not been on goal-line duty to clear Nikos Dabizas' header in the 20th minute. Even though they relinquished the lead when Spurs sparked to life late in the first-half, Bobby Robson's side proceeded to secure the three points. When the diving Dabizas got his head to Solano's inswinging left-wing corner, 12 minutes into the second half, there was no stopping the Greek's effort. Thus Shearer left the field with a quiet smile of self-satisfaction and with his name ringing not so quietly round the ground.

Ginola departed to a chorus of booing, still protesting his innocence to Mr Alcock. On one point at least, though, the player of the year was proved to be correct. His assertion at Oxford that the Premiership is being flooded by sub-standard imports was borne out by a display of stunning ineptitude by Newcastle's No 38, Fumaca. In taking the midfielder on loan for the rest of the season, Robson appears to have acquired the one Brazilian player who cannot pass.

Or shoot, for that matter. Presented with the best shooting opportunity of the afternoon, on the edge of the Tottenham area seven minutes before the break, he fired an embarrassingly feeble blank.

With 12 first-teamers injured, Robson had little option but to plug gaps with the flimsy Fumaca and another on-loan signing, the Portuguese international Helder, who was at least a functional presence in the defence.

Goals: Glass (5) 1-0; Armstrong (44) 1-1; Dabizas (58) 2-1.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Charvet, Dabizas, Helder, Hughes; Solano (Maric, 85), Fumaca (McClen, 81), Lee, Glass; Ketsbaia (Ferguson, 75), Shearer. Substitutes not used: Beharall, Given (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Taricco, Perry, Campbell, Edinburgh; Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Freund (Clemence, 84), Ginola; Armstrong (Dominguez, 67), Iversen. Substitutes not used: Vega, Young, Baardsen (gk).

Referee: P Alcock (Halstead).

Bookings: Newcastle: Solano; Tottenham: Sherwood, Ginola, Edinburgh, Armstrong, Taricco, Perry.

Man of the match: Solano.

Attendance: 36,460.