Football: Whelan's turn

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Leeds United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Whelan 27, 90

Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Attendance: 30,938

SINCE beating the champions three weeks ago Leeds have succeeded only in demonstrating that they are ill-equipped to win the title. It should have been a routine victory at Elland Road yesterday. Instead they must have been overwhelmingly relieved to have beaten Manchester City.

It was probably more comfortable than the win early last month over the other Manchester club, but it was still somehow less convincing and certainly less compelling. Neither the bulk of possession nor territorial advantage could conceal their frequent shortage of ideas. City might be eighth in the table but one goal and one point away from home speaks volumes for their potential. Weakened by flu and injury, they were there to be beaten.

It is only right to exempt from the general observations about the Yorkshire club both the full-back Gary Kelly and the forward Noel Whelan. Kelly at last looked something like the player who won selection for the World Cup, Whelan is yet another of the aware teenage forwards for whom great things beckon if he looks after himself. He scored twice, his fourth and fifth goals of the season.

The pair combined for the first in the 26th minute just when it looked as though Leeds's creativity had run out. It came directly from an unlikely City corner. When it was cleared, Rod Wallace swept the ball clear as far as Kelly, who neatly evaded the challenge of Terry Phelan, left him standing and surged up the left. Making his way into the box he noticed Whelan had also made his way speedily up the middle. Both cross and shot were executed precisely.

The verdict of the Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson, on his side's performance was moderate. True, they might have scored three or four more but either their touch or Tony Coton denied them. Coton's stop from Whelan midway through the second-half after Kelly had again provided the cross was admirable and he deserved the good fortune provided by Phelan's goal-line clearance from the young forward's second attempt.

A more adept team than City might have taken advantage late on as gaps appeared in the home defence but it was Leeds who sealed their victory. Whelan, turning quickly on the edge of the area, left his marker and put a left-foot shot wide of Coton's left hand.

(Photograph omitted)

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