Football: Newcastle prevail but worst fears confirmed

Middlesbrough 1 Newcastle 1 Newcastle win 4-3 on pens
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The Independent Online
IN THE North-east, where football courses through the veins like Newcastle Brown on a Saturday night, only a couple of thousand bothered to turn out to see the region's top players contest the third place of the JD Sports Cup, having been denied a place in the final by Portuguese and Italian teams which are considered quite ordinary in their own land.

Eventually Newcastle won on penalties which was a rather tough on Middlesbrough, who had at least managed to score one goal from open play in their two games.

Both managers, though, say that they have learned lessons, but they appear to have had worst fears mostly confirmed rather than unexpected bonuses.

Newcastle's best moment of the first half came in the second minute when Shearer provided a classic headed knock-down for Stephen Glass to volley a 40-yard pass into the path of Paul Dalglish.

Signed from Aberdeen as a wing-back, he moved the ball swiftly and sensibly and in tight midfield areas and when he ran into the penalty area to reach Dalglish's return pass he also showed a surprising turn of pace.

But that was in the 15th minute and Glass faded as Middlesbrough stepped up a gear. In the 19th minute, Neil Maddison created an opening for Paul Gascoigne, who was retired at half-time with a slight strain. Maddison lifted the ball over a dreadfully static defence but Gascoigne side-footed wide from the edge of the area.

This was the first of the Newcastle rearguard's many questionable moments. In the 28th minute, Paul Merson drifted in an innocuous cross, which Alessandro Pistone allowed to bounce, and Robbie Mustoe steered home from a couple of yards.

Newcastle's defence degenerated so much in the second half that Steve Howey and Philippe Albert headed each other and then Pistone tackled Howey. Laurent Charvet a solid Frenchman, was sent on to prevent further embarrassment.

Not that Middlesbrough could boast much, as they will start the season without Gary Pallister, Gianluca Festa and Steve Vickers. Dean Gordon, an pounds 800,000 signing from Crystal Palace worryingly presented the ball to Shearer but at least his partner, Curtis Fleming, was steadfast enough to hold up the England Captain.

But Fleming blotted his copy book in the 50th minute when Dalglish robbed him on the right as he naively bundled him over in the area. Shearer's penalty was not his usual blast but a girlish tickle over the diving Marlon Beresford.

The equaliser consigned the game to drift into the shoot-out where Middlesbrough's two misses handed Newcastle the victory. In the final Benfica defeated Empoli 7-6 on penalties after the game finished 1-1.

Middlesbrough: Beresford, Blackmore, Harrison, Maddison, Fleming, Gordon, Mustoe, Gascoigne (Cummins, h-t), Ricard, Merson (Ormerod, 62), Stamp (Connor, 71). Subs not used: Roberts, Beck, Stockdale.

Newcastle: Perez, Griffin, Hughes (Ketsbaia, 62), Howey (CHarvet, 62), Albert, Pistone, Barton (Speed, 76), Lee, Glass, Shearer, Dalglish (Brady, 62). Subs not used: Harper, Serrant, Brady, Andersson.

Referee: A B Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).