Football: `Chelsea played better football'

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The Independent Online
DENNIS WISE is convinced that Chelsea will win the Premiership this season - provided Gianfranco Zola maintains his glittering form.

Zola scored a superb second-half equaliser for Gianluca Vialli's men in last night's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, and Wise, Chelsea's captain, said: "He was on fire. When we've got him playing like that, we can win the championship. We've kept our unbeaten run going - I felt we were very unlucky not to win the game in the end. We looked a lot stronger than them in the second half."

Zola is far more satisfied now that he has a regular place in the team. "I'm more devoted to the Chelsea cause," he said. "I'm more important in this team and I think I've never scored as many goals in the first few games as I did this year.

"Also, I'm doing the work for the team, which is the most important thing for me. Only by doing things like that can you get big achievement."

Chelsea's manager, Gianluca Vialli, was full of praise for Zola. "He's improved his game, especially when the opposition have the ball. We know he is capable of great skills, but he has to work harder when he loses the ball," Vialli said.

"Tonight he and Tore Andre Flo did that - and Zola's goal was their reward."

The United manager, Alex Ferguson, admitted that his subdued team had met their match in Chelsea.

"It was a great result for us. Chelsea were the better team," Ferguson said. "They played the better football in the last 20 minutes. They deserved the result, as we were disappointing."

However, Ferguson was frustrated by the decision of the referee, Graham Barber, not to penalise Bernard Lambourde when he appeared to trip Dwight Yorke as the United striker had a clear run at goal with his side one goal ahead.

"It was a sending-off," the United manager insisted. "It was the same referee who sent off Nicky Butt for the same sort of thing earlier this season. All we want is consistency from the officials."