Football: Lukic's lapses let in Chelsea

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 2

Masinga 4, Whelan 19

Chelsea 3

Wise pen 38, Spencer 61, 88

Attendance: 32,212

IT MUST have been a memorable post-mortem when Leeds United's manager, Howard Wilkinson, closed the door on his charges after the final whistle at Elland Road. 'Frustrated, disappointed, bemused, annoyed,' he admitted after his side had allowed Chelsea to turn a 2-0 deficit into victory with a late winner, compounded by a goalkeeping error of schoolboy proportions.

Eighteen minutes into the game, Chelsea looked dead and buried as Leeds swept magisterially into a two-goal lead. Their South African acquisition, Philomen Masinga, took only three minutes to score his first Premiership goal. Rod Wallace's flick had put Gary McAllister in space on the left and the Leeds skipper's cross was met at the far post by Masinga and headed firmly past Dimitri Kharin.

Sixteen minutes later, Nigel Worthington, who is proving an effective replacement for the injured Tony Dorigo, pushed down the left flank again and saw his cross intelligently headed back across goal by David White for Noel Whelan's

volley-cum-bicycle kick, which meant Kharin had to pick the ball out of his net again.

It looked like being a matter of how many for Leeds until the 36th minute, when the colour came back to Chelsea's cheeks. John Spencer and Carlton Palmer became entangled in the Leeds penalty box and the referee saw an infringement. Dennis Wise coolly stroked the penalty inside John Lukic's left-hand post.

The Chelsea manager, Glenn Hoddle, wryly admitted that last season the odds are that no penalty would have been given.

Leeds's altruism in allowing Chelsea to come back into the game went a stage too far in the 63rd minute. Wise took a free-kick and Lukic, scrambling down low to his left, succeeded only in setting the ball for the quick-witted Spencer, who dashed in to scoop the equaliser high into the home net.

Having chipped away persistently at their hosts' confidence, Chelsea could smell blood and almost drew it when David Wetherall was robbed deep in his own half, freeing Spencer to bear down on Lukic, only to bounce his shot off the outside of the post. The decisive blow did come three minutes from time when Eddie Newton, an 84th-minute replacement for Rocastle, swung a hopeful cross into the Leeds penalty box. A looping, headed clearance dropped conveniently at Spencer's feet on the edge of the penalty area and his volley squirmed through the unfortunate Lukic's legs for the winner.

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