Football: McAllister bolsters Euro sceptics

Chelsea 0 Leeds United 3 Yeboah 25, 53, McAllister 29 Attendance: 39,592
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The Independent Online
WITH the prospect of Bruges to come in the second leg of the European Cup-Winners' Cup quarter-final on Tuesday, this was the last thing a jaded Chelsea needed. Their deficiencies were exposed and ruthlessly exploited and if their Belgian opponents did have spies at Stamford Bridge yesterday, they probably could not believe their eyes.

So completely humiliated were Chelsea that to propose Dennis Wise's absence through suspension as the major factor might seem too glib. Nevertheless that just about sums it up. The England midfielder's importance to Chelsea was best illustrated by his not being there. Without him, Chelsea were a fragile thing of shreds and tatters, easily brushed aside by a Leeds United side who scored three exquisite goals and operated for most of the match on an entirely different plane.

The Leeds captain Gary McAllister bestrode the midfield like a man among boys for most of the 90 minutes, set up two of the goals and scored one with a typical volley.

The combination punches that sent Chelsea reeling were produced midway through the first half in three blistering minutes. In the 26th Danny Wallace got behind Andy Myers to the byline and his firm cross was flicked on across the face of the goal by the astute McAllister to the far post where Brian Deane and Tony Yeboah were arriving for the kill. It fell to the Ghanaian international to provide the finishing touch.

Two minutes later, a confused Chelsea defence could only scramble the ball to the edge of the penalty area where McAllister calmly controlled it on his chest, let it drop on to his left foot and sent a volley that streaked through the crowded box. Kevin Hitchcock did manage to get a hand to the ball, but it was a goal from the moment it left the Scot's left foot.

At half-time the Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle no doubt reminded his charges that way back in August they had been in a similar predicament but had run out 3-2 winners.

Whatever method of resuscitation Hoddle did try it worked for the first 10 minutes after the restart. Urged on by the combative David Hopkin, who had replaced the injured Eddie Newton after only 25 minutes, they swarmed towards John Lukic. However, they were still unable to carve out one clear scoring chance. In the 57th minute, Leeds showed them how.

Gary Kelly lifted the siege with a speedy thrust down Leeds's right, sent McAllister wide and clear on the wing and the Leeds captain calmly placed his cross on the toe of Yeboah, a few yards out and the third duly went past Hitchcock.

An unsavoury bout of fisticuffs late on between David Wetherall and Mark Stein brought them both bookings, and also one for Hopkin who chose to even up the discrepancy in height and weight between the Leeds defender and the Chelsea striker by adding his own input to the altercation.

The chances of John Spencer being fit for Tuesday's important European tie seem remote. With Wise back to provide the cement that holds this Chelsea side together, there might be some optimism, although Chelsea's troubles are glaringly obvious as Bruges pack their overnight bags for their trip to the Bridge.

One consolation for Glenn Hoddle is that he did not have to endure the abuse to which his victorious counterpart Howard Wilkinson was subjected by a section of the travelling Leeds United support. "Wilkinson out!" they screamed at their manager in the dug-out before stewards and the police moved in to ensure the proprieties were observed.

Within minutes of this verbal attack Leeds were two up. The Chelsea support chose to show their displeasure by streaming out of the ground a full 10 minutes before the final whistle. Funny game, football.