Football: Palmer prompts Chelsea's collapse: Wednesday savour the taste of revenge

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . .3

Chelsea. . . . . . . . .1

Sheffield Wednesday, whose season has effectively disintegrated in the last two months, achieved their first victory since 5 February at a rainswept Hillsborough last night, leaving Chelsea still close to the Premiership danger zone despite their recent revival.

Of more immediate concern for Chelsea - whose FA Cup semi-final is on Saturday week - is that their player-manager, Glenn Hoddle, picked up a recurrence of an Achilles tendon injury and remained at the ground for more than an hour. As a precaution, he will probably leave himself out against Southampton on Saturday.

With a mandate to avenge Chelsea's extra-time win at Hillsborough in the fourth round of the FA Cup - a pivotal match in the fortunes of both clubs - Wednesday were delighted to find their guests offering surprisingly meek resistance. Two goals in the opening 21 minutes was the immediate upshot and there should have been more as the Sheffield side, beaten five times in seven starts since that cup defeat, created a string of chances. Chris Bart-Williams, given time to control Nigel Worthington's cross less than 10 yards from goal, opened the account before Carlton Palmer, ranging unchecked along the edge of the penalty area, doubled it with a fine left- foot strike into the roof of the net.

Yet Chelsea might have quickly equalised the opening goal, Darren Barnard hitting a post after Hoddle, operating on the left of midfield, had back-heeled into his path. Hoddle's precise passes spurred a Chelsea response in the second period, but his side looked no more secure at the back and the linesman's flag again worked against Mark Bright in another close call. Having survived that, Chelsea pulled one back after 65 minutes when John Spencer's neat header from Craig Burley's right- wing cross rewarded a penetrative run by Frank Sinclair.

Wednesday stepped up a gear towards the finish and made the game safe with John Sheridan's 85th- minute penalty after Bright had been pushed by Sinclair.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nilsson, Pearce, Walker, Worthington; Williams (Watson, 63), Palmer, Sheridan, Jones; Bart-Williams (Hyde, 89), Bright. Substitute not used: Woods (gk).

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Kharine; Clarke, Sinclair, Kjeldbjerg, Barnard; Donaghy; Burley, Wise, Hoddle (Hopkin, 83); Peacock, Spencer. Substitutes not used: Duberry, Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).