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Monday, August 9, 1999 Published at 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK

Sport: Football

Spurs hit back to claim home win

Steffen Iversen scored Tottenham's vital equaliser

Tottenham 3 (2) - 1 (1) Newcastle.
Scorers: Newcastle: Solano (16).
Tottenham: Iversen (29), Ferdinand (45). Sherwood (61)
Spurs staged a sturdy comeback against Newcastle to notch up an impressive first home win of the new season.

Under-fire captain Alan Shearer played a crucial role in the goal which put Ruud Gullit's men ahead, but he was marginalised as Tottenham hit-back with goals from Steffen Iversen, Les Ferdinand and Tim Sherwood.

[ image: Ferdinand scored but missed the second half through injury]
Ferdinand scored but missed the second half through injury
Both teams began the match having lost the first game of the season - and the tension showed as ball after ball was given away in midfield.

Spurs had their injury problems, but George Graham merely shuffled his pack to expert effect. John Scales replaced injured skipper and centre back Sol Campbell, while MauricioTaricco was called up at left-back in the absence of hamstring victim Justin Edinburgh.

New signing Oyvind Leonhardsen, an impressive substitute on Saturday, was given his first Spurs start in preference to Steffen Freund and fit again Les Ferdinand joined Iversen up front.

[ image: Solano put Newcastle ahead but it was short-lived]
Solano put Newcastle ahead but it was short-lived
Ferdinand immediately reminded his former teamates of the skills which saw him score 50 goals in two seasons at St James' Park. After just seven minutes a long ball over the top from Darren Anderton left him in the clear but Newcastle's new 5m French signing Alain Goma did enough to put the big man off.

It took Newcastle fifteen minutes to create their first chance, Ian Walker fumbling at the far post under pressure from Alan Shearer, his arms this time pointedly stuck by his side.

The Newcastle captain pounced on the loose ball, and fired a curling shot on the turn just over the bar, although there were players better placed for a shot.

Shearer power

Three minutes later Shearer's aerial presence proved decisive as he won a high ball ahead of Spurs debutant Chris Perry. The knock-down fell kindly into the path of Nolberto Solano who cut inside to fire a low shot into the corner of Walker's net and put the visitors ahead.

But Tottenham refused to allow Ruud Gullit's side to settle, and on the half hour Solano turned villian as he crucially allowed Spurs back into the game.

He conceded a needless free-kick and then a corner from which Steffen Iversen, who scored nine goals in five pre-season games, headed powerfully home after losing his marker Gary Speed.

Until then the game had been fairly even in its untidiness, but Spurs were the first to find their rhythm, and they began to dominate in midfield.

French fire

David Ginola, substituted at half-time on Saturday with question marks over his commitment, suddenly came alive.

He made several teasing runs down the left hand-side before Spurs' best move of the game saw them go ahead in first-half stoppage time.

Left-back Mauricio Taricco sparked a swift passing move on the left flank, racing up the touch-line to collect Iversen's flicked pass before smashing a low cross to the feet of the incoming Ferdinand.

His first time touch from three yards was enough to beat Harper and put Tottenham level.

Injury woe

It was to be Ferdinand's last real contribution to the game - he stayed in the dressing room after half-time having aggravated a knee injury in a clash with Newcastle's keeper after 20 minutes.

But Graham simply switched Ginola into the centre of the attack alongside Iversen, and called up Jose Dominguez for a wide role.

Both Ginola and Dominguez continued to look increasingly threatening as Gullit's expensive new-look defence allowed them both time and space. Last season's Footballer of the Year should have made it 3-1 to Tottenham when a high cross found him unmarked at eight yards out but he badly mis-hit his left-foot volley.

Ugly challenges

Tottenham were now firing on all cyclinders and as first Gary Speed and then Alain Goma were forced into ugly challenges which resulted in bookings.

Goma's desperate slide-tackle on Iversen was further punished - when stand-in skipper Tim Sherwood headed home Anderton's curled free-kick for Tottenham's third.

Newcastle made changes and staged a minor rally in the last fifteen minutes. Shearer saw a goal ruled out for offside but there was no way back for the Geordies.

Robust defence

Within minutes Tottenham could have been three or four ahead.

Oyvind Leonhardsen played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Iversen. He delayed his shot too long and it was robustly blocked.

A minute later Leonhardsen should have scored himself after another fine through ball, this time from Darren Anderton, but he fired into the belly of the advancing Harper.

Tottenham: Walker, Carr, Perry, Scales, Taricco ( Young 90), Anderton (Freund 78), Sherwood, Leonhardsen, Ginola, Ferdinand (Dominguez (h-t), Iversen.
Unused subs: Baardsen, Fox.
Newcastle: Harper, Barton, Goma, Hughes (Maric 67), Domi, Solano, Dumas (Robinson 73), Speed, Dyer, Ketsbaia, Shearer. Subs: Perez, Serrant, Caldwell.
Referee: Rob Harris (Oxford) Booked: Solano, Speed, Barton,

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