Football: Poyet's pay-off

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The Independent Online
Chelsea 2

Leboeuf pen 18, Poyet 88

Charlton 1

Youds 58

Attendance: 34,639

THE BEAN-COUNTERS will point out that the difference in the assets arrayed against each other at Stamford Bridge was somewhere over pounds 30m. But the paupers from South London showed a determination that expected more than crumbs from the rich man's table only to lose to a Urug-uayan's header two minutes from time. Money may not buy you happiness, they say, but in the end it bought Chelsea three points.

It took an 18th-minute penalty to break the deadlock as Charlton struggled successfully to contain their millionaire opponents. Gianfranco Zola's exquisite through-ball found Pierluigi Casiraghi and beat the offside trap that had worked until then. The Italian striker took the ball round Sasa Ilic but the goalkeeper took his feet and was shown a yellow card, although the circumstances of his misdemeanour merited the red. Franck Leboeuf confidently buried the penalty.

Ilic found himself in the dressing-room anyway before half-time. Again Zola released Casiraghi and the keeper bravely went down to smother the danger but lay prone after the collision. The stretcher was called for and the concussed Ilic was replaced by the substitute goalkeeper, Andy Petterson.

Charlton restarted with an impressive burst that culminated in Ed de Goey stretching his huge frame to deflect Mark Kinsella's drive over his crossbar. Then, in the 52nd minute, came the first in a flurry of Chelsea substitutions when Dennis Wise replaced Marcel Desailly - and was booked in a minute for typical petulance.

Momentarily Chelsea seemed to have lost the plot and it was no more than Charlton deserved when Eddie Youds took Danny Mills' long throw-in, turned and drove in the equaliser. Mills was to bring out the best in the Chelsea keeper again with a fiercely struck 25-yard shot but the appearance of Tore Andre Flo and Dan Petrescu for Casiraghi and Zola 15 minutes from time brought the colour to Chelsea's cheeks.

Brian Laudrup seemed to move his game up a gear and be more in tune with the tall Norwegian striker. Twice they combined to set up openings for Gustavo Poyet only to see his header kicked clear off the line by Kinsella. But Poyet, the most impressive player on the field, had the last word when he headed the winner two minutes from time.