Football: Watford fall to Klinsmann's clinical touch: German striker scores cup hat-trick

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Watford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . .6

SO much for tactics. Ossie Ardiles made his first team changes of the season last night in a bid to find more defensive discipline and security. The result was a goal glut at Vicarage Road as Jurgen Klinsmann collected a hat- trick to steer Spurs to a silky- smooth triumph over Watford.

The German's goals took his tally for the season to 10 in seven games and helped turn the second leg of this Coca- Cola Cup second-round tie on 4 October into a virtual formality. That is, of course, providing Spurs' chaotic defence can hold firm. It may sound simple against an unpretentious side like Watford, but on this evidence, even with Gary Mabbutt restored and Gheorghe Popescu installed, anything can happen.

For the neutrals among the lucky 13,659 this was a feast of flicks and one-touch show- play all inspired by the pace, power and athleticism of Klinsmann who struck three times in the first half after Watford had taken an unexpected lead after only 26 seconds.

That early goal, swept in at the near post by Craig Ramage from a Tommy Mooney cross, was typical of a game of perfect symmetry in which Watford registered their third just as close to the final whistle, thanks to an own goal by Mabbutt.

In between these two extremes, it was action all the way with Watford playing a full part in a roller-coaster production and being punished with cool precision by Klinsmann each time they lost possession.

Klinsmann, aided by Ilie Dumitrescu, made the equaliser after five minutes with an extravagant back-heel flick across the box. Amid the panic, Darren Anderton stayed calm to rifle the ball past Perry Digweed.

Twelve minutes later Klinsmann began his scoring act. Micky Hazard launched a long pass, Klinsmann spun away from his marker, David Holdsworth, and then finished with all the elegance of a world-class predator, a flick sending the ball beyond Digweed.

Dumitrescu kept buzzing, Popescu strolled and prompted, and Klinsmann struck again with a classic far- post header after 34 minutes before completing the beckoning hat-trick with another left-foot shot seconds before the interval.

Watford did not give up and attacked vigorously in the second half. Indeed, Spurs relaxed, allowing chances a better side might have exploited.

As it was, Mooney hit the post and then snatched their second after contact with Sol Campbell had left him with a clear chance to outrun Ian Walker.

For a spell, Spurs wobbled, but Teddy Sheringham's 75th-minute goal from a pass from the substitute, Danny Hill, steadied them before another explosion of action in the final 15 minutes.

Klinsmann hit the bar, Watford won a penalty when Jamie Moralee was brought down by Walker, who then saved Gary Porter's spot-kick, whereupon Dumitrescu danced in for Spurs' sixth with two minutes remaining.

It looked to be all over, but Andy Hessenthaler's despairing cross in the dying seconds cannoned in off Mabbutt before Klinsmann could grab the match ball at the end. 'What more can you say? You run out of words,' said Ardiles at the conclusion of a breathless night.

Watford (4-4-2): Digweed; Bazeley, Holdsworth, Millen, Johnson; Ramage, Hessenthaler, Payne, Porter; Moralee, Mooney. Substitutes not used: Page, Nogan, Williamson (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Kerslake, Mabbutt, Campbell, Edinburgh (Howells, 84); Anderton, Popescu, Hazard (Hill, 58), Dumitrescu; Sheringham, Klinsmann. Substitute not used: Day (gk).

Referee: J Brandwood (Lichfield).

Tottenham's attempt to overturn their six-point deduction, pounds 1.5m fine and ban from this year's FA Cup is to go to arbitration.

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