Football: Weary Wilkinson

Chelsea 4 Hughes 19, 35, 48 pen, Spencer 20 Leeds United 1 McAllister 66 Attendance: 22,131
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The Independent Online
LEEDS UNITED'S season took a further turn for the worse with a zestless display against an exuberant Chelsea. Mark Hughes scored his first hat-trick for the west Londoners as Chelsea ended any meaningful resistance with two goals in as many minutes midway through the first half.

Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, was sanguine but he must be desperate for this sorry season to end. "Life is not sweet at our place at the moment," he said. "And you can bet right now that if I shout heads it's going to drop tails."

John Spencer, who had a marvellously creative match, darting forward from midfield and spraying pinpoint passes from all angles into the penalty area, provided Hughes with his first goal. Spencer crossed from deep and Hughes launched into a trademark shoulder-high volley which took a wicked deflection off a divot and bounced over a horrified John Lukic's shoulder.

Two minutes later, Spencer broke into the box, deceived David Wetherall and shot cleanly inside Lukic's near post. Lukic had a horrible afternoon, which had elements of high farce. It could have been 3-0 two minutes later when Ruud Gullit's shot took another deflection off the turf and struck Lukic squarely on the forehead.

Leeds heads dropped and with just three at the back they looked increasingly vulnerable to the pace and sharp passing of Hughes, Gullit and Spencer. The third goal, just after the half hour, was similar to the first. Spencer again crossed from deep, Hughes was unmarked in the area and his free header gave Lukic no chance.

Leeds had been more than a match for Chelsea in the first 20 minutes. They kept their shape well and passed neatly. But any hope of a second- half revival was dashed inside three minutes. Nigel Spackman played a long ball forward and found Spencer, who was tripped by Gary Kelly in the area. Hughes stepped up for the penalty and again Lukic was unlucky. Hughes' low drive was straight at the goalkeeper, who got his legs in the way, but still could not stop the goal.

Leeds countered at last with Gary McAllister and the inexperienced Ian Harte making a series of threatening moves down the left. McAllister struck low inside the near post to claim Leeds's belated consolation.

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