Football: Klinsmann's baptism of blood: Premier kick-off: German striker's pleasure tempered by pain as champions' victory is marred by Parker

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. .3

Petrescu 54, Calderwood og 66, Hirst 83

Tottenham Hotspur. . .4

Sheringham 19, Anderton 30,

Barmby 71, Klinsmann 82

Attendance: 34,051

DEBUTS do not come much more dramatic than the one Jurgen Klinsmann made for Tottenham Hotspur yesterday. The German World Cup player helped his team to a sensational victory, scored a goal, but ended the match being taken off on a stretcher after a clash of heads with Des Walker.

For a few moments it looked very nasty as Klinsmann lay unconscious on the ground and the players gestured urgently for the stretcher to be brought on. But the damage was limited to a badly gashed lip, requiring 10 stitches, and he suffered no concussion.

It was an entirely accidental collision - the kind you see all too often in the hurly-burly of the English game but perhaps less so where Klinsmann has played his football up to now - and it completed his introduction to the vicissitudes of life in the Premiership. 'My mouth is fine,' Klinsmann said afterwards, which suggests that English understatement is something else he has learned very quickly. Klinsmann's first action was to exchange a few passes with the Tottenham mascot. Having renounced diving, every other team's favourite stage villain was in danger of qualifying for a sainthood.

The injury occurred seven minutes from time, when it did not seem possible for the afternoon to produce any more by way of incident. It was an extraordinary match even by opening-day standards, in which the ceaseless ebb and flow was punctuated by some brilliant finishing.

For Tottenham, facing a season of potential calamity after the imposition of a six-point penalty, it was the sort of dream start which could leave them actually believing Klinsmann when he says he thinks his side could still win the Premiership. Going forward, they had it all, their other World Cup signing, Romania's Ilie Dumitrescu, bestriding Hillsborough with elan, and Nick Barmby, Darren Anderton and Teddy Sheringham contributing much to a performance of verve and audacity.

Trevor Francis, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, said he knew his team had problems when he saw the Spurs team sheet. But for his opposite number, there was no other way. 'We will continue to use this attacking formation,' Ossie Ardiles said. 'It was a wonderful performance. Our goals were beautiful.'

None the less, Wednesday will wonder how they ever came to lose. Not surprisingly given the balance of their team, Tottenham were always vulnerable at the back, and Wednesday should have converted one of a number of half-chances they created in the opening quarter of an hour before, against the run of play, they fell behind to an 18th-minute goal by Sheringham.

Wednesday's debutant Romanian, Dan Petrescu, must take some of the blame, misjudging a cross from the right and allowing it to fall to Sheringham's feet. The forward who had such a miserable time with injury last season made the best possible start to this one with a neat shot into the corner.

Eleven minutes later it was 2-0 to Spurs as Wednesday's new-look defence, of whom only Walker survived from last season, betrayed signs of disorganisation and allowed Anderton through after he had combined cleverly with Sheringham.

Wednesday redoubled their efforts to get back into the match, and there was plenty of poise and invention from Ian Taylor, newly signed from Port Vale, but immediately looking comfortable at the higher level. Tall, but nicely balanced, he helped create a number of half chances. They got their breakthrough after 54 minutes, Petrescu turning up unattended in the heart of the Spurs area to beat the hapless Ian Walker with a simple shot.

Now both sides were committing themselves to attack in a thrilling exhibition of open football which seemed to have picked up where the World Cup had left off. A raucous and resplendent Hillsborough witnessed a string of spectacular goals as the second half unfolded in really astonishing fashion. There was a cracker into his own net by Colin Calderwood to bring it back to 2-2, followed by a beautifully-struck shot by Barmby to restore Spurs' lead.

Klinsmann had started to fade from the scene when, with 10 minutes left, he rose to send a simple header over the top of Kevin Pressman. He celebrated with an extravagant, self-parody of a dive which was duly aped by three or four of his team-mates. Rather disappointingly, Klinsmann said afterwards that this jest, suggested beforehand by Sheringham, was purely a one-off. He could turn it into a trademark.

The match looked over, but then, with eight minutes left, David Hirst volleyed in a marvellous shot from 20 yards. Wednesday all but equalised in the dying moments, though to some extent their efforts were overshadowed by the injury to Klinsmann. It would have been a shame if he had been left unable to remember his first game for Tottenham. No one else will forget it.

Venables law suit,

Business, page 8

(Photograph omitted)