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The BBC's John Murray
"The England captain stepped in on St George's Day"
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Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Shearer spares Magpies' blushes

Shearer's determination brought Newcastle a point
Newcastle 2-2 Leeds

Newcastle captain Alan Shearer scored a brace as his team came from two goals down to secure a point against Leeds in a battling encounter at St James' Park.

Leeds shocked the Magpies in the opening 17 minutes as striker Michael Bridges, then Jason Wilcox fired the visitors into a deserved 2-0 advantage.


Match facts
12: Bridges scores after a Dabizas blunder
17: Wilcox makes it 2-0 to Leeds
24: Shearer's thumping header revives Newcastle
48: Shearer bundles his second goal
60: Harte blasts a penalty wide of the target
But Newcastle struck back after 24 minutes, as hot-shot Shearer headed in his first, then grabbed his second staright after the restart.

With both teams suffering from end-of-season depression, it was important for them to produce the goods to lift their flagging fans.

Leeds had not won in their last six games and had been knocked out of the Uefa Cup in traumatic circumstances by Galatasaray.

Newcastle had just come off an embarrassing home defeat at the hands of Leicester and were still reeling from their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea.

Double trouble

The Magpies were first off the blocks and stand-in forward Kieron Dyer should have scored when he ran through the Leeds defence, only to strike the post with his effort.



Bridges fired Leeds' opening goal
Newcastle were without a number of key players, including strikers Kevin Gallacher and Duncan Ferguson and midfielders Gary Speed and Nolberto Solano.

And David O'Leary's Leeds took advantage of Newcastle's weaknesses by exploiting the home team twice in a five minute spell.

The roving Wilcox sped down the left touchline and sent a harmless ball into the Magpies' penalty area.

Newcastle defender Nikos Dabizas missed a routine clearance and as the ball fell to Bridges, the striker took aim and belted the ball high into the top corner of Shay Given's goal.

Creeping in

Moments later Leeds won a free kick on the right, leaving Wilcox to cross the ball in.

His tame curling ball eluded all, including the Leeds attack and goalkeeper Given, to nestle in the bottom of the home goal.



Harte missed a penalty that would have won the game
At that stage, with Newcastle looking disorganised and naive, it seemed as if Bobby Robson's men were heading for a home hiding.

But just seven minutes later they were back in the match thanks to the perseverance of Didier Domi and the head of captain Shearer.

Wilcox looked to bring the ball away from Leeds territory, but the tenacious Domi tackled the former Blackburn star brilliantly and played a pin-point cross into the box.

Without any hesitation, Shearer rose above the defence to guide Newcastle back into the match.

The game turned on its head and livened up an almost silent St James Park faithful.

Straight after the interval the Magpies carried on where they left off and produced an equaliser.

Passionate affair

Domi swung in a corner from the right, and the ball fell to Newcastle defender Aaron Hughes.



Shearer appeals for a penalty
Hughes' scrambled shot looked to be creeping in, but there was poacher Shearer to poke the ball over the line from a yard out.

The game was turning into a passionate affair, as the win-starved teams went looking for the decisive goal.

Newcastle's Paraguayan Diego Gavilan should have given his team the lead, but as he ran in on goal his tame strike was easily saved by Nigel Martyn.

At the other end O'Leary's men should have won the contest when they were awarded a penalty after Dabizas fouled Harry Kewell.

Spot-kick taker Ian Harte, stepped up, but sent his effort wide of Given's left-hand post.

The attacking pendulum swung from one end of the pitch to the other, but as the minutes ticked away, legs began to tire and the game ended with a whimper after beginning with a bang.

Teams:

Newcastle: Given, Barton, Howey, Dabizas, Hughes, Gavilan, Lee, Helder, Domi, Dyer, Shearer. Subs: Harper, Marcelino, Maric, McClen, Antunes.

Leeds: Martyn, Mills, Radebe, Duberry, Harte, Bakke, Haaland, McPhail, Wilcox, Bridges, Kewell. Subs: Robinson, Hopkin, Bowyer, Huckerby, Smith. Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

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