Shearer's rampage wrecks ramshackle Boro

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The Independent Online

IF RUUD GULLIT ever applies for a job in football it is to be hoped the name Alan Shearer does not crop up in the interview,because the Dutchman might as well make his excuses and leave: "Thank you, Mr Gullit; don't call us, we'll call you."

IF RUUD GULLIT ever applies for a job in football it is to be hoped the name Alan Shearer does not crop up in the interview,because the Dutchman might as well make his excuses and leave: "Thank you, Mr Gullit; don't call us, we'll call you."

The parody of an international striker in the the Ruud era has become an irresistible force again, making the theories that a) hehas lost a yard or b) he is not interested, look pretty silly. He is the Shearer of five years ago, according to Bobby Robson, buteven the striker of 1994 was not banging in goals with the regularity he is now.

Two goals yesterday brought his haul in the last four matches to 10, which is a dramatic improvement in the one in seven he hadaccumulated beforehand and if there were calls for him to be dropped by England last month there would be a gasp ofamazement if Kevin Keegan followed that advice now. It just shows what confidence and, most of all, decent service can do.

His goals yesterday were minor masterpieces of the striker's art, two thumping headers that flew past Mark Schwarzer like theyhad been fired from a cannon. You could wonder about the marking or even the flimsy attempts at challenges but there was nodisputing the sheer zest and power of Shearer's leaps.

His first, after 17 minutes, had you wondering how he reached the ball at all, because the advantage as Warren Barton's crossfrom the right appeared to be Steve Vickers'. Shearer's eagerness, his prodigious strength and a long stretch of the neck got himthere at the far post, however, scattering the opposition like a back-row forward rampaging through a lightweight tackle.

"It was a goal that very few centre-forwards score," Bobby Robson, the Newcastle manager, said. "It came out of nothing. Thechallenge is in there and in the blink of an eye it's in the back of the net. That's Shearer. He gave a magnificent performancetoday."

The second Newcastle goal also spoke of power but there was a beauty to it, too, as Shearer rose ahead of Gianluca Festa.There is one big disadvantage to sitting in the Milburn Stand at the moment - the lack of a roof - but that exposed position gave awonderful behind-the-ball view as it exploded off the striker's head and shot into the corner.

Shearer was rampant although even the careworn figure of a few weeks ago would probably have been enough to defeatMiddlesbrough, for whom a 89th-minute goal by Brian Deane produced a scoreline that camouflaged their inadequacies. Eventhat small compensation was controversial, because Newcastle believed Deane had used his hand.

Disrupted by the early loss of Gary Pallister, who was taken to hospital with concussion, Boro barely got out of their half beforethe interval and it was in keeping with a flaccid display that Juninho was substituted with an ankle injury. They have recorded fivedefeats out of six and appear to be sinking while Newcastle, who are now within a point of getting out of the relegation places,are heading in the opposite direction.

"We will have to wrap Shearer in cotton wool," Bobby Robson said. "Not because he's vulnerable but because he's thatimportant to us."

Goals: Shearer (17) 1-0; Shearer (44) 2-0; Deane (89) 2-1.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Barton, Dabizas, Goma, Domi; Solano (Glass, 88), Dyer Lee, Speed; Gallacher (Robinson, 83),Shearer. Substitutes not used: Marcelino, Hughes, Glass, Karelse (gk).

Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Schwarzer; Festa, Pallister (Vickers, 9), Cooper; Fleming, Mustoe, Ince, O'Neill, Ziege; Juninho (Campbell,h-t), Deane.Substitutes not used: Armstrong, Summerbell, Roberts (gk).

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Bookings: Newcastle: Dabizas. Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Festa.

Man of the match: Shearer.

Attendance: 36,421.

Paul Gascoigne, who missed Middlesbrough's defeat yesterday, faces a lengthy lay-off after injuring a thigh. "He injured it intraining on Friday," his manager Bryan Robson said, "and could be out for four or five weeks."

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