Poyet the predator rescues Chelsea

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The Independent Football

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, desperate to make a point at Stamford Bridge yesterday, helped Chelsea take one against the club he left in such acrimonious circumstances two years ago. Barracked mercilessly by the Leeds United following as a greedy Judas after the club released details of his financial demands, he played his part in forcing the header from Gustavo Poyet that equalised the latest goal from Mark Viduka, Hasselbaink's eventual successor as the Leeds No 9.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, desperate to make a point at Stamford Bridge yesterday, helped Chelsea take one against the club he left in such acrimonious circumstances two years ago. Barracked mercilessly by the Leeds United following as a greedy Judas after the club released details of his financial demands, he played his part in forcing the header from Gustavo Poyet that equalised the latest goal from Mark Viduka, Hasselbaink's eventual successor as the Leeds No 9.

It all added up to a lively enough afternoon's entertainment for viewers of Sky Sports' 500th live match, which had begun slowly but built up a head of steam after the referee, Graham Poll, noted four names in six minutes mid-way through the first half. Anyone younger than a Chelsea Pensioner has been brought up on a history of ill-feeling between the two clubs, and at that stage it was odds-on the number of sendings-off in their meetings over the past three seasons reaching a round half-dozen. In the end, the cards were all yellow and, at four apiece, as evenly split as the goals.

The Leeds manager, David O'Leary, was, for obvious reasons, unable to watch the live broadcast, but was keen to study the replays afterwards, which confirmed his view that Chelsea should not have been awarded the free-kick that led to their goal. "It was a clean tackle," he said of a challenge by the excellent Lucas Radebe on Hasselbaink. "The referee didn't blow until the crowd started shouting. We should have won, but after the week we've had, I would have taken a draw before the start."

A home victory would have meant Chelsea climbing above his team into eighth place, but on yesterday's evidence neither team deserved that outcome. The London side are still adjusting to the ways and means of their new manager, Claudio Ranieri, presiding over a perpetually multi-national squad, and demanding more spirito Inglese. Although pleased with the spirit that they showed and delighted to be rewarded with an equaliser immediately after making a triple substitution, the Italian must be aware that his defence still needs a lot of work.

Ranieri had amended the formation from 3-4-3 by dropping Tore Andre Flo and playing Poyet and Gianfranco Zola just behind Hasselbaink, the little Sardinian quickly becoming Chelsea's most influential figure. He was matched and then eclipsed, however, by Lee Bowyer, who would surely be winning a first England cap in Turin on Wednesday but for his pending court case.

Revving his engine as fiercely as ever, Bowyer was involved at both ends of the pitch, driving Leeds' first attempt on goal wide and then racing back to clear almost off the line as Hasselbaink beat Radebe to Zola's lofted pass and eluded the goalkeeper, Paul Robinson.

Robinson demonstrated the potential that has put him on today's trip to Italy by twice blocking thunderous drives from Hasselbaink. He managed to hold an almost equally fierce free-kick just after the interval, but Bowyer ensured that Ed de Goey was kept busy too, and it was Leeds who scored first in the 61st minute when his corner was met by Viduka with a firm header, Mario Melchiot failing to get off the ground for a challenge.

That meant that the Australian, following up his quartet against Liverpool, has now bagged Leeds' last eight Premiership goals. Little wonder the club would claim not to miss Hasselbaink, who nevertheless, contributed to Chelsea's retaliation. First he won the disputed free-kick by holding up a pass with his back to goal in typical fashion. The kick was hit strongly by Poyet and pushed over the bar in handsome fashion by Robinson for a corner that Leeds struggled to clear.

Hasselbaink had two digs at it, both blocked, before the ball veered up for Flo, one of the three substitutes just brought on, to head square for Poyet to nod in.

Eidur Gudjohnsen, another of the replacements, had a late drive held by Robinson, one of many Leeds players who would not have deserved to be on the losing side at the end of a week in which they threatened to make the club into a force in Europe once more. Chelsea's ambitions, equally grand only a few months ago, are now more prosaic.

Goals: Viduka (61) 0-1, Poyet (77) 1-1.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): De Goey; Melchiot, Leboeuf, Desailly; Ferrer (Gudjohnsen, 75), Dalla Bona (Morris, 75), Wise, Babayaro; Zola (Flo, 75), Poyet; Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Jokanovic, Cudicini (gk).

Leeds United (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Radebe, Mills,Harte; Bowyer, Bakke,Dacourt, Matteo; Smith, Viduka (Huckerby, 76). Substitutes not used: Jones, Hay, Burns, Milosevic (gk).

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

Bookings: Chelsea: Desailly, Wise, Dalla Bona, Babayaro. Leeds: Kelly, Radebe, Bakke, Matteo.

Man of the match: Bowyer .

Attendance: 35,121.

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