Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shearer Tees Up Victory Yet Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shearer Tees Up Victory Yet Again

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

With so much talk of a striking crisis at St James's Park in recent weeks, it had almost become possible to overlook the prolific presence of the top-flight's deadliest marksman in Sir Bobby Robson's ranks.

But on a night when the Magpies struggled to find a cutting edge, it was no surprise that it was Alan Shearer who teed up a victory over the team he loves to punish.

The talismanic Shearer has scored more Premiership goals against Leeds than against any other side. This, the 20th such strike, could prove to be one of the most important.

Shearer, who had not scored in his previous four outings, made his mark within four minutes to seal a triumph which kept the club on course for Champions League qualification.

Yet what had started out as a stroll for Robson's men turned into an arduous fight to the finish as Newcastle's often incisive football failed to reap the expected reward.

A string of chances were created and missed against an unambitious Leeds side who appear destined for the Nationwide League. But with three points in the bag following a run of three winless league games, that matters little to United.

Even so, with this fixture coming four days after a thrilling FA Cup triumph at Southampton, the Magpies kicked off against Eddie Gray's team on a considerable high.

Unsurprisingly, Robson named an unchanged line-up and with Kieron Dyer using his pace and purpose to trouble an uncertain defence, Newcastle quickly began to attack with the kind of fluency which had proved so effective on the south coast.

Less than four minutes had gone when the home side took the lead with a goal founded on slick movement and quick passing.

Aaron Hughes won the ball and found Dyer midway inside the Leeds half. A clever touch gave Nolberto Solano the chance to bring Shearer into the play and, when the skipper met the ball with a powerful right-footed shot, keeper Paul Robinson stood no chance.

It was the 33-year-old's 16th goal in 18 league appearances this season. For Gray, struggling to drag the Premiership's crisis club out of the relegation zone, it was the worst possible start.

Leeds, already shell-shocked following Sunday's 4-1 home mauling at the hands of Arsenal, had fielded Mark Viduka as a lone striker. With Gray's hopes of shutting Newcastle out having failed so soon, it was a tactic doomed to failure and the visitors posed little threat to a defence which has looked far from assured this season.

With so little coming at them, Robson's side struggled to maintain the early momentum which had provided one of the best first-half performances of the season. But, as the Magpies continued to probe steadily, a string of chances which should have resulted in further goals began to accrue. …

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