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HO, HO 7; Christmas comes late for Keegan.

Newcastle presented under-fire boss Kevin Keegan with a belated Xmas video at St James's Park - a beautifully crafted version of the Magnificent Seven.

Predictably, deadly duo Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand fired two each in a sensational 7-1 drubbing of tottering Spurs.

And Robert Lee, who scored two himself, said: "The manager has been saying we can do better - and we all played well today.

"We scored seven goals and it could have been a lot more."

Keegan skipped the post-match celebrations - his deputy Terry McDermott explained he had rushed home to his flu-stricken wife Jean.

But he definitely had a smile on his face as he left the ground."

McDermott was smiling too: "That's what I would call a classic Newcastle United performance. "We have come in for a lot of criticism and this was the perfect answer. "It was a magnificent performance and the score could easily have reached double figures.

"We hadn't had a good Christmas but those seven goals have changed all that.

"We never believed we had blown the title. We're certainly not out of the race. People will write us off at their peril."

Aston Villa came from behind twice to stop Arsenal going back on top in a 2-2 draw at Highbury. Ian Wright scored his 22nd goal of the season but now faces a three-match ban after the FA upheld last Saturday's red card against Nottingham Forest.

Manchester United made it three straight wins against Leeds - Elland Road old boy Eric Cantona scored the only goal from the spot. Leaders Liverpool play Southampton today.

Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday drew 2-2 while Wimbledon came back from behind to thump Everton 3-1.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:McNALLY, BRIAN
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 29, 1996
Words:278
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