Football: Shearer strikes to deny Spurs

Newcastle United 2 Shearer pen 109, 118 Tottenham Hotspur 0 After extra-time Attendance: 53,609; FA Cup: Newcastle reach Wembley for a second successive year as Tottenham made to pay the penalty in extra time
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The Independent Online
HISTORY REPEATED itself in the most dramatic fashion as Newcastle, having survived one valid penalty appeal and benefited from another, reached the FA Cup final for the second season running after proving stronger than Tottenham during extra-time in yesterday's semi-final at Old Trafford.

Alan Shearer, a peripheral figure until the appearance of Duncan Ferguson alongside him late in normal time, put Ruud Gullit's side ahead from the spot 18 minutes into the additional half-hour. The goal came in front of the Stretford End - the spot where he had struck against Sheffield United to send Newcastle to Wembley 12 months earlier - and the England captain added a full-blooded second for good measure with 90 seconds remaining.

The outcome was hard on Spurs, who had been the more positive team during the opening 90 minutes. Striving to reach a second domestic final in George Graham's first season at White Hart Lane, they might well have returned to the scene of their Worthington Cup triumph if either the referee, Paul Durkin, or his linesman had spotted the hand which Nikos Dabizas raised to turn away a free-kick by Andy Sinton early in the second half.

However, when Sol Campbell emulated Dabizas, Mr Durkin's view was clearly unimpaired. Shearer has now scored 11 goals in 12 games against Spurs, reviving Geordie dreams of significant silverware after three barren decades. They last won the FA Cup some 44 years ago, when the black and white stripes were sported by men with unmistakably British names like Scoular and Simpson, Stokoe and Hannah. They will return for the last pre-Millennium final - their 12th in all - bristling with exotic nationalities.

Last year, under Kenny Dalglish's dour stewardship, Newcastle failed to perform against Arsenal at Wembley. This time, with Ferguson proving a talismanic figure after a four-month absence which included surgery on a hernia problem, they will surely converge on the Twin Towers with greater confidence and optimism, with Gullit seeking to become the first foreign coach to lift the famous old pot on two occasions, having first done the trick with Chelsea.

Newcastle's triumph was all the sweeter for the fact that David Ginola, off-loaded to north London by Dalglish, failed to produce the form that has made him a contender for the Footballer of the Year award. Ginola was as ineffectual as he was against Leicester at Wembley last month and was eventually substituted.

Yet for much of the afternoon, Spurs were the more adventurous of the two teams. The stereotypes insist that Graham is obsessed with keeping clean sheets and Gullit an advocate of "sexy football", but it was Spurs who made the running before extra-time.

They might well have scored inside the first 90 seconds. Darren Anderton let fly from fully 35 yards out on the right, forcing goalkeeper Shay Given to tip the ball over at full stretch. Chris Armstrong came close to converting the ensuing corner, and Campbell also missed from close range after another flag-kick created confusion in the Newcastle six-yard area.

Newcastle's unease may have been the result of the hype about the havoc Ginola might wreak. Gullit had addressed the problem by restoring Rob Lee for only his fourth start since Boxing Day, and deputing the former captain to double up with Andrew Griffin against the Frenchman. Griffin, 20, played rugby league in his native Wigan as a schoolboy, but resisted the temptation to tackle his mercurial opponent in the manner acceptable to the 13-man code.

Ginola may have hoped for Mauricio Taricco to occupy one of his markers with some supportive surges. The Argentinian seldom ventured forward, but for all Ginola's second-half vanishing act Spurs had two penalty appeals in the space of eight minutes around the hour mark.

There was no doubting the legitimacy of the first as Dabizas clearly and deliberately handled. The second, which followed a stern challenge by Nolberto Solano on Steven Carr, was rightly turned down, yet Spurs had reason to feel they were on the verge of a breakthrough.

Ferguson's appearance disabused them of such notions. The towering Scot was playing only his sixth game of an injury-ravaged sojourn on Tyneside, and his initial contribution betrayed a certain rustiness.

Extra-time was a different matter altogether. With Ferguson beginning to expose Campbell's mortality and Luke Young's lack of height, and Shearer at last stirring, Newcastle began to pepper Spurs' goal with shots. Ian Walker suddenly had to deny Ferguson (spectacularly), Griffin (twice) and Shearer.

Three minutes into the second period, a one-two played between Ferguson and Gary Speed saw Campbell inexplicably copy Dabizas's indiscretion. Shearer waited for the arguments to subside before drilling his penalty wide to the left of Walker. With time running out on Spurs, Shearer took Silvio Maric's lay-off and dispatched a swerving 20-yard shot high into Walker's net.

Although Newcastle and their legions of followers were exultant, it was difficult to argue with Graham's parting shot. "What was the referee watching?" the Spurs manager asked of Dabizas' escape. "If we'd scored then, we'd have won - trust me."

Goals: Shearer (109, pen) 1-0; Shearer (118) 2-0.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Griffin, Howey (Hughes, 35), Dabizas, Barton; Lee, Hamann, Speed, Solano (Ferguson, 76); Ketsbaia (Maric, 106), Shearer. Substitutes not used: Saha, Harper (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Young, Campbell, Taricco; Anderton (Sinton, 51; Nielsen, 83), Sherwood, Freund, Ginola (Iversen, 76); Ferdinand, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: King, Baardsen (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland, Dorset). Bookings: Newcastle: Griffin, Maric. Tottenham: Sinton, Taricco, Young, Campbell.

Man of the match: Griffin.

Attendance: 53,609.