Football: Sherwood gives Spurs a cushion

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Zimbru Chisinau 0
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The Independent Online
DAVID GINOLA gave a virtuoso performance last night as Tottenham made a successful return to European football after an absence of three years. The Frenchman did everything but score in a game where Spurs could have doubled or trebled their tally without being flattered. The north Londoners none the less amassed a three-goal cushion, which should make their Uefa Cup first round, second leg match in Moldova in a fortnight little more than a formality.

"Tonight I think we could have scored seven or eight," George Graham, the Tottenham manager, said. "But when other European matches are finishing 0-0, we've got to be happy with three. We're going forward, playing good, exciting football, and that's something the fans can be pleased with."

Tottenham were the first British club to win a European trophy when they picked up the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1963. They last won non-domestic silverware in 1984 when they claimed the Uefa Cup and went into last night's game with an exemplary record at White Hart Lane, having lost just one of the 47 European games they had contested at home.

Zimbru, on paper at least, had earned the right to a place in the competition, having won the Moldovan title seven times and only missed out on a place in this season's Champions' League by being knocked out by PSV Eindhoven in the third qualifying round.

Spurs did not take long to settle last night and took the lead in the third minute when Steffen Iversen was fouled 25 yards from the Zimbru goal. The men from Moldova, apparently rooted to the spot, stood and watched as Iversen played a short, quick ball to put Oyvind Leonhardsen into space and the Norwegian international rifled the ball into the centre of the net. Nine minutes later, he almost added a second. After some dancing footwork down the left wing, Ginola fed Stephen Carr, who looped a cross across the box that was met by Leonhardsen whose shot went narrowly over the crossbar.

Ginola appeared to have been given licence to roam by his manager and the Frenchman drifted from the left to the centre.

Zimbru had their first serious attempt on goal after half an hour. A counter-attack saw the ball threaded to Ruslan Ghilazev on the left of the box, but his curling shot flew narrowly wide.

Three minutes later Spurs went two up. Zimbru gave away another free- kick in a dangerous spot and Leonhardsen stepped up and sent a precision ball over the six-yard box. Chris Perry rose on cue to meet it with his head, leaving Denis Romanenco flailing in the visitors' goal.

Spurs started the second period as they had finished the first, bombarding their opponents' goalmouth with crosses, and putting men in the box to meet them. Nine minutes after the restart, Ginola was instrumental in creating the third goal. First, he coolly took the ball on his chest while advancing from the half-way line and dribbled into the box, winning a corner when his fierce shot was parried. Next, he floated the ball to Perry on the far side, and the defender hooked it back to Tim Sherwood, who tapped it home.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Perry, Young, Taricco (Edinburgh, 82); Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola; Armstrong (Dominguez, 76), Iversen. Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Fox, Nielsen, Clemence, King.

Zimbru Chisinau (3-1-4-1-1): Romanenco; Kulik, Telesnenco, Oprea; Catinsus; Dodul (Robu, h-t), Tropanet (Fistican, h-t), Ghilazev, Boret; Epureanu; Miterev (Gusila, 82). Substitutes not used: Diaconu, Gavriliuc, Butelschi, Berco.

Referee: E R Zammit (Malta).

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