Dichio brings Leeds back to earth

Leeds United 1 Wetherall 89 Queen's Park Rangers 3 Dichio 16 63, Sinclair 39 Attendance: 31,504
Click to follow
The Independent Online
LEEDS know only too well that one result does not make a winning season. After putting up the performance of the week among the English teams in Europe, they learnt just how easily ballooning expectations can be shot out of the sky.

What makes this scoreline all the more extraordinary is that Queen's Park Rangers arrived at Elland Road having lost four of their opening five games while scoring only one goal. Perhaps, for Leeds, that was the problem. After winning 3-0 in Monaco, they probably expected to take three points in their stride.

While Rangers bristled with purpose, Leeds were as flat as four-day- old champagne. A goal in each half from 20-year-old Daniele Dichio, with another from Trevor Sinclair in between, did not adequately reflect the London side's superiority and David Wetherall's late header for Leeds was no kind of consolation.

Sparky and well-organised, Rangers defended in numbers but attacked with invention and, given this level of attainment, talk of a crisis at Loftus Road can be politely dismissed.

Leeds had not mounted a serious attack before going a goal down, with Wetherall and goalkeeper John Lukic sharing the blame. One of them looked sure to do the necessary when Karl Ready punted the ball towards the corner of the six-yard box; instead Dichio, the Hammersmith boy with Italian antecedents, stretched out a long leg and somehow hooked it between them, into the net.

Culpability was spread further still for the second goal. John Pemberton succeeded in blocking Simon Osborn's route after a promising diagonal run but when the ball ran loose, Pemberton's colleagues stood and watched as Sinclair unleashed a shot from more than 20 yards.

If Lukic was arguably unlucky then he was certainly unfortunate in the circumstances of Rangers' third goal. Having redeemed himself with saves from Ian Holloway and Simon Barker, he made a stupendous stop from Sinclair only to be denied assistance again by his team-mates, the ball running away to Dichio, who scored his second goal off a post.

Little went right for Leeds, who lost Noel Whelan with a shoulder injury and had Pemberton sent off after 76 minutes for a second bookable offence. Meanwhile, Tony Yeboah, their goalscoring talisman, was comprehensively marked out of the game by Danny Maddix.

"I saw Leeds beat Monaco and I thought they were awesome," Ray Wilkins, the Rangers manager, said afterwards. "I thought they would be flying but I don't think we should be analysing where Leeds went wrong. This was a story about us." On the other hand, Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, had a different view. "These sort of things sometimes occur in nightmares," he reflected.

Comments