Football: Leeds in tune for Stuttgart challenge

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The Independent Online
Leeds United. . . 2

Everton. . . . . .0

FOUR defences were breached at Elland Road last week, from Scunthorpe's to Fidel Castro Smith's, Everton's to 'Bomber' Graham's. Football teams, like boxers, can sometimes forget that however good you are going forward, you can get hit and lose points if your rearguard is not properly protected.

The point was not lost on Howard Wilkinson, arguably the Premier League's most astute manager. 'Scoring goals is not our problem,' he said after watching his side defeat Everton with an almost intoxicating display of attacking, while securing only their second clean sheet of the season.

This Wednesday, Wilkinson faces one of the most challenging tactical decisions of his career - how to ensure that a side geared for attack gives away nothing at the back. Leeds are already 3-0 down from the first leg of their European Cup first-round tie against VfB Stuttgart. If the German champions score at Elland Road, Leeds will need five.

Which is not beyond them, as Tottenham learned last month, but in reality, an away goal for Stuttgart would kill a tie which has already been dubbed 'mission impossible' for Leeds. 'How we defend on Wednesday will probably be as important as how we attack,' Wilkinson said. 'But over the years we've shown that a couple of goals is not beyond the bounds of possibility here.' Millions - in TV, ticket and advertising revenue - are at stake.

Stuttgart know the way to John Lukic's goal is through the area guarded by the Leeds right-back, a role which has not been satisfactorily filled in Mel Sterland's absence. On Saturday David Batty, sporting a new crew-cut as spiky as his football, was the latest stop- gap right-back and for half an hour the England midfielder struggled to contain David Unsworth, the Everton winger.

Gordon Strachan was forced to drop back to help out and when Unsworth finally ran out of steam and ideas, Leeds took control and gave the 27,915 crowd an hour's entertainment it would be hard to beat anywhere. Only the fast hands and feet of Neville Southall kept the scoreline to 2-0.

The most conspicuous contributions came from Eric Cantona and Gary McAllister. The Frenchman was at his most incisive and outrageous, mixing flicks with finely judged through balls. Twice, in the second half, Cantona brought the best out of Southall with well-placed shots.

McAllister was in equally eye- catching mood, rocking Southall's bar from 35 yards and then seeing the Welsh international twist to tip over a free-kick. The Scot's reward came in the 61st minute when Gary Ablett's challenge sent him tumbling in the box. He rose to beat Southall with the perfect penalty - high, hard and to one side.

Two minutes later, Leeds doubled their lead with the sort of quick-passing move that could bring them hope against Stuttgart. Gary Speed, on the edge of the area, found Strachan who sent McAllister off to the goal-line. His cross was met at close range by the stooping Lee Chapman.

Everton promised much, particularly the Serbian, Predrag Radosavljevic, but they failed to deliver up front. Stuttgart will be more heavyweight contenders.

Goals: McAllister pen (61) 1-0; Chapman (63) 2-0.

Leeds United: Lukic; Sellars (Shutt, 87), Dorigo, Batty, Fairclough, Whyte, Strachan, Cantona, Chapman, McAllister, Speed. Substitutes not used: Newsome, Day (gk).

Everton: Southall; Harper, Hinchcliffe, Ebbrell, Watson, Ablett, Warzycha (Johnston, 39), Horne, Unsworth (Beagrie, 78), Cottee, Radosavljevic. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Referee: K Redfern (Whitley Bay).