Football: Klinsmann muddies the water

Wimbledon 2 Tottenham 6
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The Independent Online
Wimbledon 2 Tottenham 6

HAIL and farewell, Jurgen Klinsmann. Or is it? The German's departure from White Hart Lane looked a foregone conclusion, but after his four- goal show at Selhurst Park he was being coy about his future.

The 33-year-old German returned to Tottenham on his six-month, pounds 1m contract saying he had come back to save Spurs. Now he has, but it had looked an idle boast as he struggled to find his form and the back of the net. Add in a row with the Spurs manager, Christian Gross, and Klinsmann's fate at the end of the season looked sealed.

When asked in the post-match euphoria about his plans for next season, he replied: "I don't want to say anything about that now because there was so much said in the last few weeks before I left the first time. All I want to say is that today was certainly one of the most exciting of my career in 16 years as a professional. It was a wonderful feeling."

Gross is not ready with the olive branch, though. "There is no chance of talking to him about staying because it was always the agreement that he would leave at the end of the season. Next Sunday will be his last match and the supporters will always remember him. He was outstanding against Wimbledon, world class."

The fans will not forget his performance at Selhurst Park. With Wimbledon down to 10 men after Ben Thatcher's wild challenge on Allan Nielsen early in the second half, Klinsmann capitalised with a hat-trick of clinical close-range strikes within the space of five minutes. He had already touched home David Ginola's cross for his first goal three minutes before the interval to haul Spurs back to 2-2 after Peter Fear's two ferocious strikes had put Wimbledon ahead.

First, Nicola Berti pounced on a mistake by Brian McAllister and squared the ball for Klinsmann to sweep it past Neil Sullivan in the Wimbledon goal. Then, a long clearance by Ian Walker three minutes later was headed on by Les Ferdinand and Klinsmann turned his man before knocking the ball home. His fourth arrived within 120 seconds, a fierce drive into the far corner.

Earlier the German, had also up Ferdinand for Tottenham's first goal after 18 minutes with a brave header and he laid on the last for the substitute Moussa Saib with a back-heel from Darren Anderton's pass.

Klinsmann cannot change what went before this season, but for one afternoon, at least, Klinsmann turned the clock back.

Goals: Ferdinand (18) 0-1; Fear (21) 1-1; Fear (30) 1-2; Klinsmann (41) 2-2; Klinsmann (54) 2-3; Klinsmann (58) 2-4; Klinsmann (60) 2-5; Saib (79) 2-6.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Thatcher, Perry, McAllister, Kimble; M Hughes, Fear, Roberts, Kennedy (C Hughes, 63); Euell (Francis, 36), Leaburn (Gayle, h-t). Substitutes not used: Ekoku, Heald (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Calderwood, Campbell, Nielsen; Fox (Saib, 72), Anderton, Berti, Ginola; Ferdinand (Armstrong, 61), Klinsmann. Substitutes not used: Scales, Clemence, Grodas (gk).

Referee: G P Barber (Pyrford)

Bookings: Wimbledon: Perry. Tottenham: Berti.

Sending-off: Wimbledon: Thatcher.

Man of the match: Klinsmann.

Attendance: 25,820

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