Chelsea 0-2 Leeds United

O'Leary Reaction | Vialli Reaction

by Matt Coates

Chelsea's endeavours to close the gap between themselves and Leeds were frustrated by a steadfast display by the visitors at Stamford Bridge. Gianluca Vialli's side began the game 14 points behind second placed Leeds and in desperate need of a win to reduce their deficit in the Premiership.

However they were unable to turn their domination into the vital goal in front of a packed house on a freezing Sunday afternoon in west London. The first incident of note was not unexpected in a fixture that has produced some fiery clashes in recent seasons, with 13 yellow cards and one red in last season's meeting at the Bridge.

Just one minute 25 seconds had past when Lee Bowyer's name donned referee Jeff Winter's notebook for a foul on Dennis Wise, the 10th caution this season for Bowyer which will almost certainly mean another suspension. Chelsea could not produce anything from the resulting free-kick but tested Nigel Martyn for the first time after three minutes, when Chris Sutton shot weakly wide from 12 yards from the impressive Jon Harley cross.

On six minutes Frank Leboeuf almost provided a contender for goal of the season as he controlled Wise' corner on his chest and swivelled to fire in a left foot volley but Martyn made a smart low save. Didier Deschamps then flashed a drive wide before the visitors' first real opportunity on 12 minutes, Ed De Goey punching Stephen McPhail's in-swinging corner off his line.

Next it was Poyet's turn to try his luck from long range with a left foot effort that flew over before Chelsea's best chance of the half on 17 minutes. Di Matteo's floated cross was headed back across goal by Tore Andre Flo, preferred to Gianfranco Zola up front in the only change from the team that won at Hull, but Wise's header flew agonisingly over the cross bar from six yards out.

Back at the other end, Michael Bridges briefly escaped the attentions of Leboeuf and Desailly to get a shot on target but De Goey saved comfortably, a feat matched seconds later by Martyn as he gathered a low drive from Ferrer. The simmering tension between the sides then threatened to boil over after 37 minutes as Desailly went down injured outside the area and Leeds carried on playing instead of kicking the ball out of play.

Blues players and officials reacted angrily, Bowyer and Wise locking horns to exchange their views on the incident and Eddie Gray arguing his case with the Chelsea bench before order was restored.

At half time Chelsea were forced to make a change in the shape of Jes Hogh replacing Desailly after the French international had picked up a shoulder injury just before the interval. The Blues could have been in front just two minutes into the second half, Poyet's attempted shot bouncing up perfectly for Wise to head towards the far corner only to find Martyn flinging himself to his left to turn it round for a corner.

Leeds boss David O'Leary then gave a debut to new 3million signing Jason Wilcox as Bridges limped off after 49 minutes. Shortly afterwards Ian Harte joined Bowyer in the referee's notebook for a foul on Poyet, the Leeds players furious that an earlier foul by Di Matteo on Bakke had gone unpunished.

Wilcox almost had an instant impact when his long clearance hit Leboeuf on the back and allowed Huckerby to burst clear but the former Coventry striker pushed the ball too far in front of him and De Goey was able to race from his line to gather. With Leeds defending stoutly Vialli turned to Gianfranco Zola to try and provide the one magic moment, the Italian replacing the ineffective Flo.

Leboeuf then became the third player booked for a foul on Harry Kewell before the home side were forced into their final substitution. Hogh pulled up with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Dan Petrescu and while Chelsea were still readjusting, Ferrer switching to centre-half, Leeds took full advantage to break the deadlock.

Leboeuf halted Kewell's run on the edge of the area but the ball broke to Bowyer whose low cross was calmly slotted into the far corner by McPhail, his first senior goal for the club. That sparked the almost inevitable flashpoint seconds later as Leboeuf blatantly tripped Kewell and reacted angrily as the Australian went down. LeBoeuf even went on to stamp on the young Leeds star which will only cause more controversy for French international players.

A fracas entailed as referee Jeff Winter had no hesitation in producing a second yellow card followed by red for the Frenchman which sparked a bout of pushing and shoving between a mass of players, Martyn having to drag Jonathon Woodgate away from the melee. Leboeuf stayed to argue his case but eventually walked off only to compound his sin by trying to argue with the Leeds bench before eventually disappearing down the tunnel.

The game continued in the aforementioned manner and when Di Matteo encapsulated Chelseas frustration by giving away a free kick, the following goal was almost inevitable. With three centre halves now out of action Sutton was pressed into service as an emergency centre half but he could do nothing to prevent Leeds sealing all three points three minutes from time. The free kick was whipped in by McPhail and Bakke tried a little flick, but to no avail. It didnt touch him at all but continued on past and flew straight in to the bottom left hand corner of the Chelsea net.


Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly (Hogh 46), Leboeuf, Harley, Wise, Deschamps, Di Matteo, Poyet, Sutton, Flo (Zola 57), Hogh (Petrescu 64)
Subs Not Used: Morris, Cudicini
Sent Off: Leboeuf (68)
Booked: Leboeuf, Wise, Di Matteo

Leeds: Martyn, Kelly, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Bowyer (Jones 84), Bakke, McPhail, Kewell, Huckerby, Bridges (Wilcox 48)
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Mills, Duberry
Booked: Bowyer, Harte, Kelly
Goals: McPhail 66, 87
Att: 35,106
Ref: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)


Leeds manager David O'Leary was understandably delighted with the three points after the tough Worthington Cup penalty shoot-out defeat to Leicester on Wednesday. "This is a very good win and a nice three points," he said.

"I'm proud of my players. We had a difficult game on Wednesday but we fought hard and I am so delighted.

"We defended well, but you would expect that when you come to Stamford Bridge and remember who my young boys are playing against.

"We've gone top again. I don't know where we will finish, but we're enjoying being top. "How long we will stay there I don't know, but we will give it a good go."

Man-of-the-match Johnathon Woodgate was equally pleased: "This means a lot because we've gone back to the top.

"We did our job at the back and we know if you don't concede goals then you don't lose games and Stephen McPhail came up with two good goals.

"I would like to think we can stay at the top. We've got it in the side to do that and it's going to be good."


"I think probably yes, the players lost their heads," admitted Vialli who revealed that Jes Hogh had pulled a hamstring and Marcel Desailly dislocated his shoulder.

"After creating so many chances, and Leeds scoring with their first shot, the players felt a bit frustrated and they knew the game was slipping away.

"I think it was definitely a yellow card for the foul and Frank deserved to be sent off. I might be angry with him. I don't want to add anything else. He deserved to be sent off and if there is anything to be dealt with it will be dealt with privately.

"It was not the best refereeing in the world but this is football". The defeat left Chelsea well adrift of the top of the table but Vialli added: "I don't think we can give up on the Premiership.

"We need to play in Europe next season, not just for the prestige of the club but financially it is very important. It's difficult now but we have to keep going in case something goes wrong in the Champions League or FA Cup."