Yorke and Cole send Blackburn into Europe

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Blackburn Rovers 4
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The Independent Online

Hardly the ideal farewell for Teddy Sheringham. After 277 appearances in two spells at the club he supported as a boy, the Spurs captain bowed out of White Hart Lane for the final time yesterday, leaving his manager and the Tottenham hierarchy with plenty to think about during what is bound to be a soul-searching summer.

Hardly the ideal farewell for Teddy Sheringham. After 277 appearances in two spells at the club he supported as a boy, the Spurs captain bowed out of White Hart Lane for the final time yesterday, leaving his manager and the Tottenham hierarchy with plenty to think about during what is bound to be a soul-searching summer.

Glenn Hoddle, under fire in recent weeks from both fans and former players, had vowed a winning finale to this most mediocre of seasons. Instead, Spurs were simply shredded by a Blackburn team who finished the season by taking the final Uefa Cup place at Everton's expense.

Playing the last hour a man short after Gus Poyet received a straight red card for a lunge on Gary Flitcroft did not help Tottenham. But even with a full deck of players, it is debatable whether they would have taken anything from a game in which they were second best to Graeme Souness' men.

Hoddle has consistently blamed the injury curse which has plagued Spurs for the club's mid-table obscurity which finally left them in 10th place. Certainly, on yesterday's performance, Jamie Redknapp has been badly missed but injuries are increasingly becoming a tired excuse and unless Hoddle can find enough players proud enough to wear the shirt, the future looks bleak.

Take nothing away from Blackburn, however. All over the pitch, they were sharper and brighter than Spurs and, most importantly, worked as a team. In goal, Brad Friedel outshone his opposite number, Kasey Keller, up front Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole turned back the clock with a goal apiece while on the left of midfield, Damien Duff bamboozled the Spurs back line.

Flitcroft, too, played an influential part in Blackburn's domination until, that is, he was scythed down and forced to leave the pitch by a late challenge from Poyet who departed straight down the tunnel. Although Flitcroft returned with five stitches to his right knee, he just survived the half and was later replaced by David Dunn.

By then, however, Blackburn were cruising courtesy of an early strike from Yorke, latching on to Cole's sublime back-heel, and a second out of nothing just before the break from Craig Hignett in what was his first start of the season after a loan spell at Coventry.

When Duff rounded off another neat move three minutes into the second half, the home crowd resorted to "you're not fit to wear the shirt" as they rounded on their team. Worse was yet to come. With sixth place and their European berth secure, Cole added a fourth on the hour.

"We're a small club and we've done very well," said Souness. "Everyone can talk about injuries. We've played the whole season without Matt Jansen and had Damien Duff out for 17 games. But I'm lucky to have some very senior pros." Would that Hoddle could say the same.

Goals: Yorke (5) 0-1; Hignett (45) 0-2; Duff (48) 0-3; Cole (60) 0-4.

Tottenham (4-4-2): Keller 5; Carr 5, Perry 3, King 5, Taricco 5 (Ziege 5, 60); Davies 5, Redknapp 7 (Toda 4, 69), Poyet 4, Etherington 6; Keane 6, Sheringham 5. Substitutes not used: Sullivan (gk), Bunjevcevic, Acimovic.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel 6; Neill 6, Todd 7, Taylor 7, McEveley 6 (Johansson 5, 62); Hignett 8 (Jansen, 75, 5), Tugay 7, Flitcroft 7 (Dunn 7, h-t), Duff 9; Yorke 7, Cole 7. Substitutes not used: Kelly (gk), Hakan.

Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay) 6.

Bookings: Tottenham: Taricco. Blackburn: Neill. Sent off: Tottenham: Poyet.

Man of the match: Duff.

Attendance: 36,036.

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