FA Carling Premiership
Chelsea 0 - 2 Leeds United
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Leicester City||Leicester City »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Bakke, Bowyer (Jones 84), Huckerby, McPhail, Kewell, Bridges (Wilcox 48)||Robinson, Mills, Duberry|
|Chelsea||De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly (Hogh (Petrescu 64) 46), Leboeuf, Harley, Wise, Deschamps, Di Matteo, Poyet, Sutton, Flo (Zola 57)||Morris, Cudicini|
|Leeds United||McPhail 60, 87|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Bowyer, Harte, Kelly|
|Chelsea||LeBoeuf, Wise, Di Matteo||LeBoeuf 68|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||14, 14||0|
|Matt G||Chelsea Report|
|Richard Lake||Chelsea report|
|The Guardian||Leeds stamp their class|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Chelsea lose the plot|
|The Times||Disciplined Leeds get their kicks from victory|
|Express Sport||McPhail mugs foolhardy Blues|
|The Independent||McPhail exploits the loss of LeBoeuf|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||??|
|BBC||McPhail double sinks Blues|
|Soccernet||Chelsea 0 - 2 Leeds United|
|Carlingnet||Chelsea 0 - 2 Leeds United|
Okay, I admit I'm as superstitious as the next man when it comes to football matches. There are certain items of clothing I absolutely refuse to wear because I know they're bound to make us lose. There are certain pubs I won't go in before games because they've had the same effect. And this season, it seems to have become my tradition to avoid the first minute of a game like the plague - and once again it paid dividends today.
Admittedly, when I did get to my seat, I'd just seen the ref raise a yellow card in Lee Bowyer's direction - that's 10 in all competitions this season, and another date with the FA beckons (though the one before this was a completely spurious decision for a fair tackle at Leicester, so he might have a bit more leeway). We didn't defend the free kick too well, and the ball hit the top of the net - from the outside rather than the inside thankfully.
It was a bitterly cold day, and I was seriously regretting the fact that I'd chosen to get a haircut on Friday morning: Leeds weren't giving us much to cheer in the first half and I needed all the warming up I could get. As per usual, Chelsea had given us tickets for the Lower East Stand - it is nice and close to the pitch, but there really isn't any point in having seats there at all since you have to spend all of the game standing to be able to see anything.
Chelsea were attacking our end in the first half - and we saw plenty of the ball. Without David Batty, the midfield was once again a bit too lightweight, although Eirik Bakke is looking better all the time. I'd been predicting that the arrival of Jason Wilcox might see Stephen McPhail relegated to the bench, but McPhail kept his place and we started with Michael Bridges as the only real out and out striker, with Harry Kewell and Darren Huckerby taking up free roles behind or wide of him. They were both well-policed by the Chelsea defence and didn't see that much of the ball, and as the Chelsea siege developed over the half, it seemed for a while as if the clock had gone back to 1995 and Howard Wilkinson's team were hitting long hopeful balls out of defence for an outnumbered attack to chase. Nigel Martyn made some good saves, and Jon Woodgate was superb at centreback, but going forward we really weren't putting it together. Towards the end of the half, Desailly crumpled in a heap - it turns out he'd dislocated his shoulder - but Leeds played on and came close to scoring, to the fury of the Chelsea fans.
At half-time, I was thinking about what I was going to write about this game. It was going to go something along the lines of "Sky jinx. Missed Batts. Not bad ref - which makes a change...". The start of the second half left me even more certain that that was how it was going to read with Nige making a superb stop from a short-range header. Then the report gradually got itself rewritten. Jason Wilcox had made his debut, coming on for the injured Michael Bridges, and that had forced Harry to push forward more. The ref missed two blatant hacks - one on Stephen McPhail and the other on Eirik Bakke, but rightly ignored dives by Flo and Poyet - but Leeds dug in and I began to think that maybe we could hold out for a draw.
Against the run of play, Leeds got a breakthrough. Bowyer made a good run down the right and cut the ball back across the face of the goal. Stephen McPhail arrived at just the right moment and sidefooted the ball home. The ref pointed to the centre circle and we went mad. I've not been hugely impressed wit McPhail's recent performances, and have been of the opinion that he could do with a rest. What do I know? If my predictions are going to be that reliable, can I add the following: Batts to be out for 3 months; Bridges goal drought to continue; Wilcox to turn out to be another Lee Sharpe.
Chelsea tried to come back, but were knocked completely out of shape when Frank LeBoeuf - who had already been booked - had a stupid kick at Harry Kewell as he went across the pitch. Kewell went down, LeBoeuf stamped on his ankle, and quite how he had the temerity to argue with the ref when he produced a second yellow card I don't know. Maybe he was insisting he should have received a red card for the stamp alone. With Desailly and his replacement Hogh off injured, Chelsea were reduced to using Chris Sutton at centreback.
To their credit they continued to attack and Zola was always dangerous. Several times it looked like Leeds were the team that was a man short. Darren Huckerby had a gold-plated chance to get one-on-one with De Goey but over-ran the ball, but as the game headed to a close he looked more effective against a tiring and short-handed Chelsea defence. Matt Jones came on for Lee Bowyer with a few minutes to go and was almost immediately brought down. McPhail floated over a free kick which everyone missed as it curled into the goal. 2-0 and the game was ours.
Man of the Match - Jon Woodgate or Nigel Martyn, but well done to McPhail and Bakke whose second half performances started to show they can cope without Batts there all the time. Nice to see the Chelsea stewards acting quickly to eject one of their fans who threw something onto the pitch as McPhail was trying to take a corner - he didn't look happy about being thrown out of the ground. And hi to the bloke next to me who started out by taking his shirt off when Leeds scored the second - and ended up dropping his trousers too. Lovely sight - not!
The tone was set from the first minute, after Wise had elbowed Bowyer within 10 seconds, as Bowyer took his gloves off someone nearby said he's gonna chin him now. Within a minute Bowyer looked at Wise who jumped up in the air and the ref fell for it and Bowyer was booked.
For about the first 30 minutes little was going right. Kewell just didn't get in the game; McPhail was marooned in no-mans land and not getting involved. It was only poor Chelsea shooting and Bakke working hard in front of impressive defending from Lucas, Woody and Kelly, that kept it level. The ref was also having a nightmare ignoring a challenge from behind that left Bakke in a heap whilst penalising us at every opportunity. Bowyer increased the tension by not putting the ball out when Desailly went down injured. However, we gradually battled our way back into the game and Bridges had a couple of decent attempts before half-time. The second half started with no Desailly and it wasn't long before Hogh limped off as well. Chelsea again looked on top and Martyn had to make a great save from a header.
Bridges soon limped off to be replaced by Wilcox and Kewell went up-front, this probably proved to be the turning point, as Kewell became much more of an influence and LeBeouf was soon booked for a foul from behind.
The goal when it came was against the run of play, Kewell was again flattened by LeBeef but the ball ran to Bowyer who pulled it back and the in-coming McPhail side-footed into the corner as cool as you like.
From this point Chelsea totally lost it LeBeef could have been sent off in the build up to the goal and within a few minutes he kicked out at Kewell who had again beaten him. His sending-off was inevitable but it led to a general fracas in which at least one Leeds player was also booked. LeBeouf at first wouldn't leave the pitch and when he did indulged in some verbals with Duberry on the way down the tunnel.
Minutes later Dol was also on the pitch when Huckerby was clearly blocked by Ferrer (now playing centre-back) on his way to goal and Winter unbelievably gave a free-kick to Chelsea. Strangely for the next few minutes the 10-men forced us back, but we defended solidly despite a few corners, however with the pace of Huckerby and Kewell against Sutton and Ferrer we still looked dangerous on the break. Eventually we reasserted our control and 5 minutes from the end McPhail whipped in a free-kick, which everyone missed and crept into the corner. For the rest of the game it was just a case of celebrating in the Leeds end, Jingle Bells, Top of the League etc, while on the pitch it was just trying to avoid injury as the tackles flew in.
A great battling victory, at the start of the game the team looked knackered but (cliché time) they dug deep and produced a significant win.
Martyn 8 - Couple of very important saves at start of 2nd half.
Kelly 8 - Some excellent defending, distribution a bit iffy, but often little to aim for. Seems to have taken over from Bowyer as chief whinger when a decision goes against us.
Harte 7 - Solid
Radebe 8 - Some great tackles in the first half when we were under pressure.
Woodgate 9 - Another tremendous game, really playing well at the moment.
Bowyer 7 - Did well to compete despite first minute booking, think he's suspended now though.
Bakke 8 - Becoming a key player - an excellent performance, gets back well to help out the defence.
McPhail 8 - When he went down injured after about 50 minutes, he looked like he just wasn't interested and wanted to come off. But proved me wrong, kept going and great finish for first goal.
Kewell 8 - Not too involved til he switched to centre-forward, caused chaos from then on. Likely to be playing up-front a lot more in the near future I'd guess.
Bridges 6 - Not particularly effective, til he limped off.
Huckerby 7 - For much of the time his usual mixture of running down blind alleys and falling over blades of grass, but importantly worked tremendously hard and kept them under pressure.
Wilcox 7 - Solid debut, already looking a useful addition with the injuries adding up.
Ref - Winter 3 - Terrible
Chelsea - Bunch of primadonnas who couldn't handle losing. Glad i support a proper team.
They looked good, we were chasing shadows in midfield. Wise and Deschamps were bossing the game. Fortunately Radebe and Woody were superb throughout. As such, they didn't really get much of a look in on goal, despite dominating much of the play. For us, Bridges was stuck out in the middle got seeing much of the ball, Harry and Huckerby were being closed down as soon as they got anywhere near it and Bowyer, Bakke and McPhail had no answer to their midfield. Bowyer, especially looked a bit off the pace - possibly due to the 1st minute booking, which was ridiculous. I was pleased we got in goalless.
They were again pushing. Nige made a fantastic save from a header, but apart from that, they didn't really seem to be casuing many problems. Wilcox came on for Bridges, pushing Harry further forward which seemed to give him a lot more space. Suddenly, we were beginning to look dangerous and scored not long after that, Bowyer's cross finding McPhail, with 3-4 other whites in the box.
We were a totally different outfit in midfield. McPhail suddenly looked like the player we hoped he would be, Huckerby was beginning to enjoy himself, and Chelsea lost it big style. Leboeuf should have been sent off in the lead up to our goal. He didn't last long after that, although he had 3-4 goes at getting off the pitch. Suddenly Zola was their only striker and it all started getting easier. McPhail's 2nd goal was a bit soft, but there was no way we would lose it, or Chelsea had the composure to win it. Just enough time for DiMatteo to be booked (although Winter did have the red out for a time). All over.
Martyn 8 Dominated the area and made one excellent save. Distribution awful
Uncle Gary 7 Covered inside well for the CBs
Nephew Ian 7 No real problems defensively, looked threatening coming forward
Radebe 9 Immense - Joint MOTM
Woodgate 9 As above
Bowyer 6 Looked rattled after the early booking
Bakke 7 Pick of the midfield, despite hacking from Deschamps
McPhail 5 before the 1st goal, 8 afterwards. Hopefully the confidence was what was missing
Harry 6 Better when he moved up front. Leboeuf couldn't cope with him
Huckerby 6 One of his better games, I'd have thought. I still prefer him coming off the bench, though
Bridges 6 Couldn't do a great deal, but held it up well when he got the chance
Wilcox 6 Gave the team better shape, and fitted in well. Nothing spectacular
Jones 6 Only on for a couple of minutes, but won the freekick for the 2nd goal.
Before the game, I'd have been pleased with a draw (especially so at half time). As Scum lost 5-0 there, that makes us 7 goals better than them by my reckoning
Copy from Football Unlimited of 20/12/1999.
Leeds United showed the stuff of genuine championship contenders at Stamford Bridge yesterday but all Chelsea could achieve, in the end, was an afternoon of stuff and nonsense. Stephen McPhail's first two goals in the Premiership returned Leeds to the top of the table, leaving Chelsea's challenge practically invisible.
David O'Leary's team will surely take considerable confidence from this success as they go into the holiday programme. Already lacking David Batty, David Hopkin and Alan Smith, they lost Michael Bridges early in the second half yet managed to improvise a win which, while not particularly pretty, said everything about the team's strength of character.
Certainly Gianluca Vialli, the Chelsea manager, thought that Leeds, who are now two points ahead of Manchester United although they have played a game more, had a good chance of becoming champions. "They have talent, they are young and they still have experienced players," he said.
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