Spurs caught at the death

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Sheringham 62, Armstrong 80 Blackburn Rovers 3 Shearer 8 pen, 34, 90 Attendance: 32,387
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The Independent Online
WITH only six weeks of their reign as champions to run, Blackburn Rovers are making a belated attempt to correct the impression of a disappointing season by qualifying for the Uefa Cup. Spurs have the same ambition, but yesterday they were undone by another Alan Shearer hat-trick, his fifth of the season, with the last goal in injury time clinching the game.

Blackburn deserved their second away victory of the campaign, riding out a Spurs comeback after they had taken a comfortable two-goal lead.

Spurs' tribulations were mostly down to their weakened defence. Gary Mabbutt and Sol Campbell had been ruled out by injury and chickenpox respectively, and soon one of their deputies, Stuart Nethercott, was sporting a head injury. To make matters worse, Colin Calderwood limped off after 20 minutes.

By then the Scottish defender had conceded the penalty with which Blackburn had taken the lead, bringing down Shearer after Mike Newell's headed flick had put him clear. Shearer drilled the penalty inside Ian Walker's right- hand post, and then set about dismantling a nervous Spurs back four.

By the 34th minute Shearer seemed to have achieved this, springing clear of Nethercott to drive a low shot past Walker. The Spurs defence almost donated a third when Jason Cundy, Calderwood's replacement, saw his gentle back-pass squirt under Walker's boot, the goalkeeper only just getting back to prevent one of the howlers of the season.

The interval brought a Lord Kitchener style appeal from the tannoy announcer for the Spurs fans to get behind the team, but the initial effect of this was to generate a booking for both Cundy and Chris Armstrong.

But Teddy Sheringham at least gave Spurs hope after the hour, poking home Ruel Fox's corner.Armstrong nearly got the equaliser with a tremendous hooked volley and then finally succeeded as he chested down Clive Wilson's pass and drove past Flowers.

But it was no surprise to see Shearer latch on to an overhead pass and drive home the winner between Walker and the near post.

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