Football: Warhurst injury overshadows rout

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . 8

Spora Luxembourg. . . .1

Sheffield Wednesday's return to the European arena, after an absence of 29 years, resulted in the anticipated thrashing of the bankers and teachers of Spora Luxembourg in a first leg, first round Uefa cup tie at Hillsborough last night - but at a serious cost.

Trevor Francis, Wednesday's player-manager, chose to start a game for the first time since assuming command, and lasted the full 90 minutes. His striking partner, Paul Warhurst, recently switched from defence to replace the injured David Hirst, was not so fortunate.

Warhurst collided with Fernand Felten, Spora's goalkeeper, as he scored Sheffield's seventh and his second goal in the 73rd minute. After a five-minute delay, the England under-21 international was carried off with a serious head injury and taken - unconscious having swallowed his tongue - to hospital for a brain scan. 'I was not aware how bad the situation was but when he stayed down for so long it was obvious something was wrong. He nearly died,' Francis said. Warhurst was being detained in hospital for overnight observation. A spokeswoman for Sheffield's Northern General Hospital said he was 'comfortable'.

His premature departure took much of the enjoyment out of Wednesday's record European win, in which Viv Anderson and Chris Bart-Williams also scored twice. Predictably, Wednesday inflicted early pressure on the part- timers, and it took them just eight minutes to open their account. Chris Waddle cut inside from the right flank and found the net with a low shot, his first goal for the Sheffield side.

Within two minutes Spora were level. Chris Woods, the England goalkeeper, hurriedly kicked a back-pass to an unprepared Peter Shirtliff. The centre-half lost the ball to Ricco Cardoni, who set up Joao Cruz to skip round Woods and score with ease.

The equaliser was a shock to the Sheffield system, and took them a while to regain their composure. When they did so, three goals arrived in 10 minutes. A Waddle cross from the right was headed home by Anderson, who soon collected another when he had time to chest down a Francis cross from the same right flank and pick his spot. With Spora stumbling, Warhurst hit a spectacular fourth, taking a pass from Carlton Palmer in his stride and belting the ball past a bemused Felten.

Spora's attacks became increasingly sporadic in the second half as Wednesday maintained an at times too hasty barrage. On the hour though, they added a fifth when Bart-Williams barged through two tackles to tuck the ball home.

Five minutes later it was six when Francis - always involved in his first Uefa cup appearance - fed Nigel Worthington, who scored from the edge of the area. After Warhurst's mishap, Bart-Williams completed the scoring with a close range shot nine minutes from time, with an assist from the substitute, Nigel Jemson. By then, though, many Wednesday minds were distracted by fears for Warhurst.

Sheffield Wednesday: Woods; Harkes, Anderson, Palmer, Shirtliff, Warhurst (Jemson, 77), Hyde (Wilson, 68), Waddle, Francis, Bart-Williams, Worthington.

Spora Luxembourg: Felten; Janes, Kremer, Bei, Stange, Laera, Cardoni (Mischo, 85), Santopietro, Cruz, Rigaud (Seyler, 80), Chaussy.

Referee: F Philippoz (Swit).

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