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SHEAR HELL FOR GEORGE; Newcastle Toon up for the top.

Deadly Alan Shearer sent Newcastle soaring to within touching distance of the Premiership summit as Leeds pressed the familiar self- destruct button.

England's skipper at last hit the form worthy of the world's most expensive player, wrapping up the points against ten men, with his first strike from open play since his mega-move two months ago.

All the hype and expectation suddenly lifted for Kevin Keegan when Beardsley and Lee paved the way for Shearer to slot the winner.

And, even more significantly, he forged a telepathic partnership with pounds 7 million Colombian hitman Asprilla as Leeds were ripped apart.

If the pounds 22 million partnership of Shearer and Asprilla is to develop into the "Dream Team" Keegan thinks it might, then they are going to need plenty of assistance from veteran Beardsley.

Newcastle thoroughly deserved their win, though for George Graham there was at least the knowledge that, if one of his absent strikers had been around, Newcastle's back four would have been more seriously examined.

Keegan's approach warms the cockles but his defence continues to frustrate.

It's all held together by Beardo in midfield. The little fella is propelling Newcastle back towards the top, which is where they belong.

It might have been different had Palmer not been sent packing in the first half for a second bookable offence. But Leeds could not counter Shearer - the player Graham once targeted at Highbury.

It is Shearer's determination never to accept second best which has helped him come to terms with that massive pounds 15 million price tag and Leeds' defence had no answer to him.

Graham knows he must turn Elland Road into a fortress to survive - with the same ruthlessness and style of play he used at Arsenal.

Graham has stamped his authority on the club by giving out to each of his players a six-page code of conduct booklet.

But his no-nonsense approach is still backfiring on the pitch and Leeds are still looking for their first win under his management after a defeat at Coventry and a home draw against Darlington in the Coca-Cola Cup.

Newcastle always held the high ground in a frenzied first half hour with Batty, Beardsley and Shearer all going close.

That should have been the start of a deluge of skill and flair.

Instead, the nerves began to fray, the tackles came flying in and Ginola, with the help of referee Paul Alcock, turned a feast into a grudge match.

The brooding Frenchman was intent to take a dive every time he saw the shadow of a Leeds defender and was hauled off after 33 minutes with a leg injury.

By that time, Mr Alcock had already booked the Frenchman along with Wetherall, Palmer and Wallace.

And he rightly sent Palmer off for a second bookable offence for crazily hacking at Shearer in the 38th minute.

The dismissal enraged the whole of the Leeds bench and David O'Leary, newly appointed as Graham's assistant, angrily remonstrated with the officials at half-time, who needed a police escort from the pitch.

But the damage was already done. Palmer had given George Graham a nightmare start to his reign as Leeds manager.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Royce, Steve
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 22, 1996
Words:527
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