Football: Gascoigne cameo after bomb hoax at testimonial

Arsenal 3 Rangers 3
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The Independent Online
A hoax bomb alert at Highbury delayed last night's testimonial for Nigel Winterburn by half an hour. The predicted appearance of England's coach, Glenn Hoddle, to check the man he has just recalled, Paul Gascoigne, also turned out to be a hoax.

Hoddle was not present to watch the balding maestro, 30 later this month, in semi-detached mode, the highlight of which was a cheeky free-kick which brought Rangers' second goal with Arsenal's defences down.

Rangers, whose last match in London, against Spurs, had ended in spectator violence, had not played in the capital since Winterburn began his Arsenal career 10 years ago. But their large contingent in a crowd of 20,022 -which could earn Winterburn close to pounds 200,000 - went home happy after Peter Van Vossen's late equaliser.

Hoddle had suggested that Gascoigne needed to "get back to loving the game of football again" if he was to revive his England career. His early touches consisted of a series of miscues and misdirected passes as Arsenal recovered from Ally McCoist's early goal to take a 3-1 half-time lead.

While Gascoigne appeared remote, the main impact on the game was made by Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp. He made the most of a generous amount of space to curl in an equaliser after quarter of an hour, and with the next move of the match ran from the half-way line to set up Ian Wright for a further goal.

Wright, capitalising on a mistake by Steven Pressley, made it 3-1 after 35 minutes. Gascoigne, nevertheless, gave a tantalising glimpse of his ability shortly before the end of the half. Taking a free-kick on the edge of the Arsenal box, he drove in a cross which skewered the home defence. McCoist was presented with a point-blank header which he nodded wide.

Rangers, who fielded a number of guests including Everton's Dave Watson and West Ham's John Moncur, were cheered throughout by the blue and white contingent at the Clock End. There was no hint of the unpleasantness which had occurred as the crowds were kept waiting outside the stadium earlier in the evening, when skirmishes saw several supporters arrested.

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, said of Gascoigne afterwards: "Paul is coming along well. He has got a few more testimonial matches to play in the next week or two to develop his fitness but I think he should be all right for England."

Arsenal (3-5-2): Seaman (Lukic, 57); Marshall, Hughes (Morrow, h-t), Bould; Parlour, Platt (Limpar, h-t), Selley, Bergkamp, Winterburn (Shaw, 75); Anelka, Wright. Substitutes not used: Rankin.

Rangers (4-4-2): Dibble; Pressley, Watson, Unsworth, Albertz (Bollan); S Wright (Durrant, 68), Moncur, Gascoigne, Miller (Van Vossen, h-t); McCoist (Shields, 68), Durie (McInnes, h-t). Substitutes not used: Rae, Ferguson.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

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