Ginola inspires Newcastle's adventure

Football
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The Independent Online
The morning after Tyneside's intoxicating night before, it was left to a Frenchman to attempt a soberish perspective on Newcastle United's place in the European scheme of things.

David Ginola did his best. But the all-out offensive that hammered Ferencvaros into a 4-0 submission still had the locals punch-drunk by the banks of the Tyne.

None more so than the gentleman in the manager's seat at St James' Park. Having seen his attacking gamble strike the jackpot with a place in the Uefa Cup's last 16, Kevin Keegan begged favourable comparison of his side's performance with Real Madrid and Barcelona at their best. When it was suggested that some stunning teams would be in the hat for tomorrow's draw in Zurich, he ventured: "The most stunning one in there at the moment is Newcastle United."

It is, indeed, questionable whether Internazionale would have made a more impressive job of finishing off Ferencvaros. With home advantage in August, Roy Hodgson's side only managed to put three goals past Manchester United, but are the Italians capable of being turned over 2-0 at Leicester, or of gifting three goals to their opponents in an away leg?

As Ginola stressed, the most significant thing Newcastle have done with their latest success, and with that 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United, is "to show to Europe that English football has grown up in the last 10 years - it's not just kick and rush any more. People in Europe think Newcastle are a great team. Now we can build every week to be a really great team."

That Newcastle still have some building to do is reflected by Ginola himself. He has rediscovered the magic touch that helped conjure European semi-final appearances in his last three seasons at Paris Saint-Germain. Until now, his form this year has been too fitful to make the international recall he feels he now deserves a guaranteed formality.

Newcastle also have yet to prove themselves consistently great, but now they have their chance to do it on the European stage. Ajax and Bayern Munich are the only clubs outside Serie A who have lifted the Uefa Cup since 1988, and Internazionale will be the only Italians in the hat in Zurich.

Facing Youri Djorkaeff, Jocelyn Angloma and company would be the ultimate test of Newcastle's European mettle, but Inter would not relish a visit to Tyneside.

They arrived in 1970, with Giacinto Facchetti and Roberto Boninsegna fresh from the World Cup final, kicked Newcastle as black and blue as their own shirts, but still failed to survive a Fairs' Cup tie at St James'. The Continental casualty list continues to grow.

n Liverpool are expecting a near-capacity 40,000 crowd at Anfield tonight when they defend a 2-1 lead against Sion in the European Cup-Winners' Cup. The Anfield club have cut admission prices for the second-round second- leg tie.

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