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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 21:36 GMT
Shearer sinks Leverkusen
Newcastle 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Alan Shearer scored a 36-minute hat-trick as Newcastle kept alive their Champions League campaign with a glittering attacking performance against Bayer Leverkusen.

Shearer scored his 14th career hat-trick
Shearer scores his first goal
Shearer had not scored from open play in 14 previous Champions League games, but once he had headed his team in front after five minutes victory seemed inevitable.

It was Shearer's first hat-trick since he scored five against Sheffield Wednesday in 1999 - and he left the pitch to a tremendous reception when he was substituted towards the end.

In contrast to vibrant Newcastle, Leverkusen seemed a pale and sad imitation of the side that reached last season's Champions League final.

The German team, who are bottom of Group A without any points to show from their four matches, threatened a late comeback after Marko Babic's 73rd minute goal but did not deserve anything other than defeat.

KEY INCIDENTS
5 mins: Shearer opens the scoring
11 mins: Shearer taps the ball home from short range
19 mins: Given saves Neuville's penalty
36 mins: Shearer completes his hat-trick from the penalty spot
59 mins: Shearer shoots wide from 10 yards
73 mins: Babic scores a consolation goal

Shearer's diving header set the tone for the match.

The 32-year-old striker ghosted past Diego Placente and buried Gary Speed's teasing cross past Hans-Joerg Butt.

And shortly afterwards Butt's goal was breached again.

Shearer easily intercepted Cris' diabolical pass across the Leverkusen defence and passed to Shola Ameobi.

Both Butt and Cris failed to clear the youngster's subsequent driven ball across the face of goal, and Shearer converted from short range.

Leverkusen's dreadful start to the match continued when Oliver Neuville's limp penalty was saved by Shay Given after 19 minutes.

Given should arguably have been sent off after bringing down Francoaldo Franca, but the Irishman was not even booked and instantly atoned for his rash challenge.

We did the damage in the first half and it was a great night for us
Alan Shearer

Hesitancy in the Newcastle defence had put Franca through, but Leverkusen, short of confidence and struggling for form, could not take the gift Newcastle's inexperienced defence offered them.

Leverkusen's abject misery deepened when Shearer completed his hat-trick.

Thomas Kleine had blatantly pulled Kieron Dyer when the midfielder was through on goal and Shearer made no mistake with the subsequent penalty.

Newcastle continued to create openings.

You can't take anything positive from a 90-minute game that is over after 10 minutes
Leverkusen coach Thomas Hoerster
Ameobi blasted just wide five minutes into the second half, while Shearer should have extended his tally but dragged his shot wide from 10 yards.

The German side rallied as the match wore on and Babic scored a tidy consolation after a neat one-two with Yildiray Basturk.

And had Kleine's header hit the back of the net instead of the crossbar it could have been a nervous finish for Sir Bobby Robson's team.


Newcastle: Given, Griffin, Caldwell, Bramble, Bernard, Kerr (Viana 82), Dyer (Solano 70), Speed, Robert, Ameobi, Shearer (LuaLua 80).
Subs not used: Harper, O'Brien, Cort, Hughes.

Bayer Leverkusen: Butt, Preuss, Kleine, Cris (Zivkovic 29), Placente, Kaluzny, Ramelow (Babic 46), Simak, Basturk, Neuville (Brdaric 61), Franca.
Subs not used: Starke, Ojigwe, Callsen-Bracker, Dogan.

Booked: Brdaric

Attendance: 40,508

Referee: Claus Bo-Larsen (Denmark).






WATCH AND LISTEN
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"We got off to a great start"


Newcastle striker Alan Shearer
"We've got two huge games to go"



SEE ALSO
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Barcelona on the brink
26 Feb 03 |  Champions League

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