Football: Vialli paves way

Chelsea 2 Vialli 23, M Hughes 47 Barnsley 0 Attendance: 34 ,442
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The Independent Online
BARNSLEY may have come to Stamford Bridge fearing a repeat of the six-goal rout at Oakwell but they left with their heads held high, if pointless, from an encounter that saw Chelsea move into second place in the Premiership table.

It was not that Chelsea were out of touch but their visitors, especially in the second half, showed that there's plenty of life left in them and although they may well be doomed, they will be nobody's easy touch.

Any hangover Chelsea may have had from their mid-week Coca-Cola Cup semi- final was swiftly dispelled and within 15 minutes Mark Hughes was heading a Graeme Le Saux cross inches wide of David Watson's right-hand post. Nine minutes later Hughes again used his head, this time to set up Chelsea's opener. Frank Newton's sweeping cross from the left saw Hughes climb above the Barnsley defence to nod the ball to Gianluca Vialli, who poked it in. Barnsley had their backs to the wall at this time but survived the first half without further loss thanks mainly to Watson's brave goalkeeping and a post which kept out Dan Petrescu's header.

Anyone expecting a Barnsley collapse when Hughes claimed Chelsea's second, minutes after the resumption was to be disappointed. Barnsley were miffed when Vialli's turn and brilliant 30-yard delivery to the on- rushing Petrescu was not declared off-side. The Romanian was allowed to stab a low cross in from the right and Hughes hit the post when he met it and then was first to the rebound to head into the net. Despite the Barnsley appeals the flag stayed down.

Capitulation, however, was the last thing on Barnsley's mind and in the 65th minute they finally forced Ed de Goey to make his first real save of the game. For the last 25 minutes the visitors' game took on real purpose and confidence, especially after John Hendrie had replaced Jan Age Fjortoft.

Little Martin Bullock, who had started the afternoon with cheeky intelligence, found his second wind and had De Goey scrambling across his goal to parry a 25-yard volley. Then Arjan de Zeeuw came forward to force a powerful header towards goal but the Chelsea keeper managed to get a finger to it.