Higuita steals the show

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The Independent Online
CLIVE WHITE

Not since Jan Tomaszewski frustrated England's World Cup ambitions over two decades ago has Wembley seen a goalkeeping performance or, more accurately, a save, to rival the one with which Rene Higuita denied Jamie Redknapp last night.

"I've never seen anything quite like that," said Terry Venables, the England coach. "We won't be teaching our goalkeeper that, even if it does bring back the crowds. We'll leave that to him, he's the only one who can do it."

Naturally, Venables was more concerned with his own team's virtuoso performances and, although none of them may have been quite as sensational as Higuita's, Venables declared himself more than satisfied. "The quality of the chances were good," he said. "I think the boys are pretty upset about that, in fact it's the only thing they're upset about."

Paul Gascoigne, starting his first game for his country in 18 months, was among those to receive his manager's approval. "He was a bit nervy at the start, but he got over it and was clearly up for the game, despite the pressure he was under. He's so good for the rest of the team, he lifts everyone, he's infectious."

Venables singled out two relative newcomers to the squad - Redknapp and Nick Barmby - for praise. "Redknapp handled the ball well, while Barmby showed his intelligence running in and around Alan Shearer. It was quite delightful."

The England coach believed the Colombians provided ample evidence of why they managed to finish third behind Brazil and Uruguay in this summer's Copa America. He was full of admiration for Faustino Asprilla, whose skill he thought made him one of the world's finest.

For most of us, however, Higuita's audacious display will live longer in the memory.

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