Football: Magpies' seven-goal sign-off

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Leicester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

NEWCASTLE fans have had plenty to cheer about all season - the First Division title had already been claimed midweek - but nothing can have prepared them for the goal-crazy lap of honour they were treated to yesterday. Leicester are a side of play-off pedigree, but at half-time Newcastle were 6-0 up and double figures looked on the cards; some ceremonious curtain call from Kevin Keegan's triumphant team.

Keegan himself was full of the romance of the occasion. 'Roy of the Rovers is still alive,' he declared afterwards. 'If you talk about perfection in football you could make a cassette of the first 45 minutes.' And that record would not be complete without noting the events of the last day of the previous season: again Newcastle played Leicester, again they won (2-1), but that victory saved them from relegation to the Second Division. Some contrast.

The Tyneside fans had already tasted the fruits of their success with the pre-match presentation of the Championship trophy, but just five minutes into the game the carnival really got going. This was when Andrew Cole fired home what turned out to be his first goal of three, a hat-trick that was completed just 21 minutes after David Kelly had finished his. Robert Lee was the other scorer, these three merely applying the finishing touches to what was a quite devastating exhibition of first-half football.

The last thing Leicester would have wanted, with the play-offs in mind, was to have their confidence rattled in this way, but for 45 minutes, as the goals tumbled in, they were simply blown off the pitch. They managed to get something of a grip on affairs in the second half, but only after Cole had notched up Newcastle's seventh and written the game into the history books. This was their first seven-goal league win since 1961.

Leicester's sole reply, an 82nd- minute header from Steve Walsh, barely interrupted the celebrations. 'It was a shot across the bows of the Premier League,' said Keegan, 'but it will take a lot of living up to.'

Newcastle United: Srnicek; Venison, Beresford (Peacock, 53), Robinson, Scott, Howey (Kilcline, 60), Lee, Cole, Kelly, Clark, Sellars. Subs: Kilcline, Peacock.

Leicester City: Poole; Mills, Whitlow, Smith, Walsh, Hill, Oldfield, Thompson, Joachim (Gray, h/t), Lowe, Lewis (Gee, h/t).

Referee: B Nixon (Wirrall).