Hughes gives Leeds the blues

Chelsea 4 Leeds United 1
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The Independent Online
Chelsea 4 Leeds United 1

Leeds have had a horrible week. In the words of their manager, Howard Wilkinson: "We got beaten in the 94th minute at Arsenal, got stuffed by Forest, the chairman resigned and now this. It only needs for the bus to break down on the way home to cap things off."

The team's confidence is so low that as soon as Mark Hughes scored the first goal of his first hat-trick for Chelsea, Leeds crumpled mentally and resigned themselves to defeat after 20 minutes. But Wilkinson has little time for the psychological frailties of his players: "Any professional athlete owes it to himself to perform," he commented scathingly.

Only Gary McAllister, Carlton Palmer and the inexperienced Ian Harte, who showed a maturity beyond his years, emerged with any credit from the Leeds performance.

But Wilkinson denied that the resignation of Leeds chairman, Leslie Silver, has been detrimental to his relationship with the board. A small minority of the Leeds travelling fans suggested that Wilkinson may want to resign himself, but the manager shrugged it off, saying: "They are entitled to shout about what they want." For Wilkinson, the summer cannot come quick enough so that he can begin rebuilding his side. By contrast, Chelsea are looking to end their mercurial season on a high. John Spencer had an inspired game, creating Hughes' first two goals, scoring himself and winning the penalty for Hughes to claim his hat-trick. It was a high class, high energy display as he constantly popped up in dangerous positions, made darting runs and produced an array of inch-perfect passes. The edge went off Chelsea's game when he was substituted in the 69th minute after a heavy challenge from David Wetherall.

Mark Hughes will never have a luckier hat-trick. Bad marking was responsible for the first two goals. But the striker, returning from his third suspension of the year, also conspired to give Leeds' goalkeeper, John Lukic, an afternoon to forget.

Hughes' spectacular volley was driven hard into the ground and Lukic seemed to have it covered until it took a cruel deflection off the turf and bounced over the hapless keeper's shoulder. The penalty was weak and straight at Lukic, who got his legs in the way only for the ball to bounce off them and dribble over the line.

Goals: Hughes (19) 1-0; Spencer (20) 2-0; Hughes (35) 3-0; Hughes (pen 48) 4-0; McAllister (66) 4-1.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Kharin; Myers, Lee, Duberry; Spackman, Minto, Wise, Burley; Gullit, Spencer (Peacock, 69); Hughes. Substitutes not used: Hitchcock (gk), Furlong.

Leeds United: (3-5-2): Lukic; Pemberton (Radebe, 37), Wetherall, Kelly; Harte, Palmer, McAllister, Speed, Gray; Brolin, Deane. Substitutes not used: Wallace, Worthington.

Booking: Leeds: Pemberton.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Man of the match: Spencer. Attendance: 22,131.

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