Heartache For Leeds In London (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 3 Leeds United 2
Scott Barefoot reports
Leeds' distaste was due to a late turnaround orchestrated by midfielder Frank Lampard, who was to credit for the two Chelsea goals that followed a piece of utter brilliance from Eidur Gudjohnsen.
The Icelandic striker slammed home a spectacular overhead kick that was beautiful as Leeds' misfortune was cruel. And it has to be said the suffering Elland Road side deserved better on the night.
Harry Kewell had put the visitors ahead midway through the first half and when Teddy Lucic put them back in front with his first goal for the club on 66 minutes, they looked set for an unexpected win.
But a rollercoaster of a contest had a sting in the tail for them that was as painful as the news before kick-off that England striker Robbie Fowler will complete his move to Manchester City on Wednesday.
But though their chairman continues to raid the family silver, Terry Venables continues to work his magic. The money men may have got their pound of flesh, but Leeds - and Venables himself - are on the up.
Their defensive resilience in the face of a stirring effort from Chelsea was admirable. Stripped to the core - or maybe the heart - of the club, they continue to show healthy signs in the most trying of circumstance.
Dominic Matteo, an undeserved scorer of a killer own goal seven minutes from time, was a lion heart at the back, and even Kewell and Mark Viduka, much criticised of late, worked tirelessly up front.
Chelsea, however, are a real Premiership force and their ability to turn this thriller into three points from a losing position shows how much they are maturing under the studious stewardship of their boss.
Claudio Ranieri refers to himself as the 'Tinkerman' for his regular tossing and turning on the team sheet. But he has refined a mix of grace and graft that looks almost certain to bring them Champions League action.
Both the first and second half was fractious without ever being fluent. But if the football on show was missing mastery, it certainly wasn't without spice - and what a punch it packed at the end.
Leeds took the lead out of the blue in route-one style when Viduka beat Marcel Desailly and flicked Paul Robinson's kick on. Kewell took the ball graceful in his stride and prodded past Carlo Cudicini.
Straight on the back foot, they were made to battle to keep their lead and it wasn't until Gudjohnsen pulled a warren of rabbits out of his hat in the 57th minute that the parity was restored.
But they retianed a threat on the counter-attack and after Viduka forced Cudicini to save down low, Kewell flicked the resultant corner across the face for Lucic to ram home from close range.
Cruelly, Leeds were briefly touching three points. But their hosts somehow raised their game another level, though they needed a deflection on Lampard's 80th minute shot to equalise for a second time.
A point a piece would have been the fair eventuality, but ask Venables if football is in the welcome habit of being just. It is not always bad news: he may now get to keep Jonathan Woodgate after all.
The fifth and decisive goal, however, proved that Lady Luck is currently as absent as the once omni-present Leeds chairman. Still, Leeds are marching on together and they will make it out of the mire.
MAN OF THE MATCH: FRANK LAMPARD (CHELSEA)
Chelsea: Cudicini, Babayaro (Cole 35), Desailly, Terry,
Gallas, Le Saux, Morris, Lampard, Gronkjaer, Gudjohnsen, Zola (Zenden
Leeds: Robinson, Kelly, Mills, Matteo, Lucic, Wilcox,
Bakke, Okon (Seth Johnson 68), Smith, Viduka (Milner 80), Kewell.
Ref: J Winter (Cleveland).