Football: Leeds inspired by McAllister

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The Independent Online
Leeds United. . .2

Everton . . . . .0

LEEDS UNITED started playing like champions again, containing and then punishing an industrious but unincisive Everton side at Elland Road yesterday. The visitors held their own for the first half-hour but the rest was dominated by Howard Wilkinson's inventive team.

Leeds needed this win, and yesterday's success before a captivated crowd of 27,915 ended a Premier League run of five games without a victory. After such a creative performance, Leeds will be less fearful about the need to score at least three goals against VfB Stuttgart in the European Cup first-round second leg on Wednesday.

If two goals and a clean sheet were important, so was the unexpected return of Eric Cantona. The maverick Frenchman, who had expected to be missing for two months after hobbling off with hamstring trouble against the German champions 10 days ago, started and was quickly back to his trick-playing, defender-fooling best. After only seven minutes, he released Chapman with a delightful ball before Dave Watson intervened to spoil the fun.

With goal-hunters like Cantona and Chapman, whose entente cordiale develops by the match, Leeds are never going to struggle to score, but their all-attacking approach conceals defensive weaknesses. David Batty, with a new haircut to match his bristling style, played at right-back but struggled against the youthful David Unsworth for the first 20 minutes. Everton promised much down their left flank but with only little Tony Cottee to aim at, their five- man midfield was unable to find a way through. Everton's best chance came on the half-hour when Cottee threaded the ball through for Robert Warzycha to sprint clear, but John Lukic came smartly off his line to dispossess the Pole .

Batty gradually gained the measure of Unsworth and, with this potential breach dealt with, Leeds began to take control. The chances came thick and fast. Gary Ablett nearly conceded an own goal in the 34th minute; Chapman saw a marvellous header cleared off the line by Andy Hinchcliffe; and Gary Speed's vicious volley was pushed away by the outstanding Neville Southall before McAllister ended the half with a breathtaking 35-yarder which cannoned off the upright.

It seemed only a matter of time before the blue ranks broke. McAllister's curling free-kick from all of 30 yards was tipped over the bar by Southall a minute after the break, and when the Scot tried his luck from long range again three minutes later, his shot flew just over.

Leeds's excellent captain did not have to wait much longer, however. In the 61st minute he accelerated into the box and fell under a challenge from Ablett before Elland Road's most vociferous supporters. Ken Redfern immediately pointed to the spot, although Ablett appeared justified in his complaints. But there was no arguing with McAllister's well-struck penalty, placed high to Southall's left.

Two minutes later Leeds had the points sewn up. Speed and the evergreen Gordon Strachan combined to release McAllister, whose low cut-back from the goal- line was met by Chapman standing on the six-yard line. Speed and Cantona had chances to increase Leeds's lead and the only consolation for Everton was the composed Premier League debut of their Serbian midfielder, Predrag Radosavljevic. 'He was going to be the one to break down their defence,' Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, said. However the Leeds defence proved impregnable. If they can stay as firm on Wednesday and Cantona weaves his magic, Leeds could possibly force a shock against Stuttgart.

Leeds: J Lukic; S Sellars (C Shutt, 87 min), T Dorigo, D Batty, C Fairclough, C Whyte, G Strachan, E Cantona, L Chapman, G McAllister, G Speed. Subs not used: J Newsome, M Day (gk). Manager: H Wilkinson.

Everton: N Southall; A Harper, A Hinchcliffe, J Ebbrell, D Watson, G Ablett, R Warzycha (M Johnston, 39 min), B Horne, D Unsworth (P Beagrie, 78 min), T Cottee, P Radosavljevic. Sub not used: J Kearton (gk). Manager: H Kendall.

Referee: K Redfern (Whitley Bay).

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

(Photograph omitted)