Leeds United 1 Liverpool 0
It was billed as a battle of the strikers and finished as no contest. Stan Collymore limped out of Elland Road last night while Tony Yeboah staked an early claim for the goal of the season. It was Leeds 1 Liverpool 0 in more ways than the result.
Yeboah struck a thunderous volley in the 51st minute to take his tally to 16 goals in 18 starts since his pounds 3.4m arrival at Elland Road earlier this year, and at the same time he preserved Leeds' 100 per cent record early in the season. Hopes are being nourished in West Yorkshire that the Championship is feasible and certainly, if the Ghanaian continues to strike in this extraordinary manner, anything would seem possible.
Yeboah's two goals against West Ham on Saturday were spectacular enough, but last night's had a quality that threatened to defy physics. Tony Dorigo crossed from the left, Rod Wallace headed back and Yeboah, showing no compromise to a range of 25 yards, thumped a right-foot volley that hurtled through the sultry air and crashed past David James with awesome ferocity.
"It was a great goal," the Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson said. "A fantastic strike, out of the top drawer."
Collymore, meanwhile, had a sorry night to match that of a Liverpool team whose enterprise and intelligent attacking probably deserved better. His first intervention proved to be virtually his last and he will have an X-ray on a sprained ankle this morning.
The Collymore injury was a watershed, as Liverpool felt they were denied more than the services of their pounds 8.5m striker. Ian Rush supplied a precise pass after five minutes to set his partner free, and as Collymore attempted to outflank John Pemberton on the right the Leeds defender sent him crashing to the ground. The television replay suggested that the visitors' claims for a penalty had some justification.
"It looked a foul to me," Roy Evans, the Liverpool manager, said, "but the referee had to make a split-second decision and it didn't go our way. We didn't get a penalty then and we certainly won't get one now. There's no point crying about it."
Leeds prospered as Collymore toiled for a further 15 minutes in search of proper mobility but the restoration of 11 fit men has a galvanizing effect on Liverpool and they finished the first half the better side, claiming a greater share of the possession and half chances for Robbie Fowler and John Barnes.
This flimsy superiority was wrested away, however, with Yeboah's goal that also set the agenda for the rest of the match. Liverpool pressed forward while Leeds depended upon breaks from deep that might have brought further goals for Yeboah and Gary McAllister.
This is not to suggest that Liverpool were overrun. Far from it - they created at least three more chances that might have brought goals on a different night. Soon after the goal the visitors almost got an equaliser, Steve McManaman zigzagging into the Leeds area before misplacing a pass to Rush that would have given him a near empty net to aim at.
Fowler, too, had Lukic diving across his goal after 57 minutes to put a shot round his post, but the closest miss of all came in the closing minutes when Rob Jones's shot was deflected on to a post by a colleague.
"When John Barnes's backside gets in the way of a goal you know it's not going to be your night," Evans said. "The way we played in the second half will get us something in most matches. We will play worse and win."
Leeds United (4-4-2): Lukic; Kelly, Wetherall, Pemberton, Dorigo, Wallace (Whelan, 82), Palmer, McAllister, Speed, Yeboah, Deane. Substitutes not used: Beesley, Beeney (gk).
Liverpool (5-3-2): James; R Jones, Babb, Wright, Matteo (Thomas, 83), Harkness, McManaman, Redknapp, Barnes, Collymore (Fowler, 20), Rush. Substitute not used: Warner (gk).
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).