Yeboah blows hotter

Leeds United 2 Yeboah 34, Speed 58 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Attenda nce: 34,076
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The Independent Online
IT WILL soon be news if Tony Yeboah plays a match without scoring a sensational goal. The one he conjured yesterday to put Leeds on the road to the easiest of victories was the equal of any of the 10 others with which he has illuminated the season, combining power and grace in a way that again marked him out as the most devastating striker in the English game.

Yeboah set an impossible-looking standard for himself with the 25-yard volley that did for Liverpool six weeks ago. But that was just a curtain- raiser. There followed an effortlessly curled shot at Monaco in the Uefa Cup, the blistering strike at Wimbledon last week, and now this.

Little of note had happened when, after 34 minutes, Yeboah gathered the ball just inside the left touchline. Cutting in, he accelerated past four Wednesday men, and from 20 yards hit a shot of tracer-like speed and accuracy low into the corner. It was all done with the utmost finality; the overall effect was simply super-human.

Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, merely repeated what he has said about Yeboah all along. "He's world-class. After that you can say what you like." David Pleat, Wilkinson's opposite number, said he couldn't think of a way to describe the goal before settling on, "It was a good- un". But he then offered more of an insight into what is so special about the 29-year-old Ghanaian.

"He seems very relaxed whether he's shooting, controlling the ball, or moving with the ball," he said. "There is no tension in his play. It was a super goal. He seemed to just side-step our players. It was as though he was just practising with the shot. Some practice."

For all Yeboah's exploits, he could be said to have owed something to the Elland Road crowd, his Liverpool goal having been his only previous one at home all season. Indeed, Leeds' record in home matches had begun to tail off badly, with two defeats and a draw to show from the three leading up to this one.

Wilkinson, his hand forced by injuries and suspensions, tried to improve things by joining the trend towards three men at the back of which Wednesday are also adherents. He played Gary Kelly in the centre of defence flanked by Paul Beesley and a home-grown 20-year-old Andy Couzens, while another product of Leeds' youth scheme, Mark Tinkler, also aged 20, came into a five-man midfield from which Brian Deane was surprisingly omitted.

Tactical innovation was all very well, but for a time it seemed that Leeds' best chance lay with that old standby, the corner flicked on at the near post. Phil Masinga was the beneficiary after 20 minutes, but there was little control in the swing of his left boot as the ball fell nicely to him, and 10 minutes later he headed lamely over from Gary McAllister's cross.

The finishing, surely, had to be left to Yeboah, and once he had done his bit Leeds found the going easier against a Wednesday side who never stopped nagging away but were rarely able to get Chris Waddle into positions from which he could pose much danger.

Seven minutes after half-time, the labouring Masinga was replaced by Deane, and within five minutes the substitute had created Leeds' second, crossing low for Gary Speed to run on to the ball and clip a firm shot beyond the reach of Kevin Pressman.

Although Yeboah then hit the post, the rampaging Deane threatened to upstage him during the last quarter. But by then the game was over - certainly for the Wednesday striker David Hirst, who was sent off 25 minutes from time for something he said to the referee. He was about the only one not lost for words yesterday.