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Thursday, March 12, 1998 Published at 14:31 GMT

Sport: Football

Chelsea and Leeds turn on goal power
image: [ Gianluca Vialli tussles with Crystal Palace's David Tuttle during Chelsea's 6-2 win over Crystal Palace ]
Gianluca Vialli tussles with Crystal Palace's David Tuttle during Chelsea's 6-2 win over Crystal Palace

Leeds have boosted their hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Cup, while shattering Blackburn's Champions League hopes, with a 4-0 win at Elland Road.

Also on Wednesday night, Gianluca Vialli secured his first Premiership victory as Chelsea manager, as Crystal Palace were mauled 6-2 at Stamford Bridge.

Barnsley stepped up their fight against relegation with a battling 1-0 win at Aston Villa. They are now two points behind fourth-from-bottom Tottenham.

In Division One, Middlesbrough hammered Swindon 6-0 to go top above Nottingham Forest on goals scored.

Leeds v Blackburn

Peter Slater reports from Elland Road for BBC Radio 5 Live (48")
Leeds bounced back from their FA Cup embarrassment at the hands of Wolves, though Blackburn boss Roy Hodgson believes his team can still finish second and qualify for the Champion's League.

Leeds beat Blackburn 4-3 at Ewood Park earlier this season, with all seven goals coming in the first 34 minutes.

There was no repeat of the early fireworks this time, but both goalkeepers were responsible for ensuring that the game was goalless at half-time.

But whatever Leeds boss George Graham had to say during the break it galvanised his players. Leeds were three up in an eight minute spell early in the second half.

Lee Bowyer gave Leeds the lead in the 48th minute, starting a move then finishing it with a 15-yard drive under Blackburn's keeper Alan Fettis for his third goal of the season.

Bowyer turned supplier in the 52nd minute, slipping an incisive through-ball for Jimmy Hasselbaink to curl home a 15-yarder for his 15th goal of the season.

Alfie Haaland put Leeds three up in the 56th minute with a delightful goal.

After his first touch left him with his back to goal the Norwegian international flicked the ball up, turned and shot in one delightful movement, hitting the top right-hand corner from 15 yards.

He scored his second, and Leeds' fourth, in the 88th minute with a stunning 35-yard shot which gave Fettis no chance.

Blackburn manager Roy Hodgson admitted: "It's a fine result for them, but a disastrous one for us.

"We've now got to pick ourselves up as quickly as possible. We're leaking goals like a sinking ship is leaking water."

Chelsea v Crystal Palace

Chelsea broke their Premiership scoring duck under Gianluca Vialli in spectacular fashion with an emphatic victory.

Neither Terry Venables nor Paul Gascoigne will be encouraged to join Palace after this defeat which leaves the Eagles rooted to the bottom of the Premiership.

Neither side had scored a goal in nine Premiership games between them, so it was a surprise when Palace took the lead through Hermann Hreidarsson in the seventh minute.

But two goals from Vialli and one from Italian compatriot Gianfranco Zola gave Chelsea a 3-1 lead at half-time.

Three more Chelsea strikes followed in the second half, two from substitute Tore Andre Flo and one from captain Dennis Wise, rendering Marcus Bent's first goal for Palace meaningless.

Manager Steve Coppell refused to blame the off-field activities surrounding the club on his side's performance. "That's no excuse, that's nothing to do with it.

"You don't blame off-the-field activities for rank bad defending, for people playing offside in the wrong part of the pitch. We were 11 strangers tonight defensively."

Aston Villa v Barnsley

Ian Brown reports from Villa Park (45")
Ashley Ward edged Barnsley closer to Premiership survival, scoring the only goal of a gritty game at Aston Villa.

"That was a massive win for us," admitted Tykes' boss Danny Wilson. "Villa had the greatest share of possession and more chances but we defended very well at times."

Barnsley are now two points behind Tottenham and Everton and they have a game in hand.

Villa were in almost total charge from start to finish, but it was one of those nights when little went right for them.

They were stunned when Barnsley grabbed a 17th-minute lead with their first worthwhile attack.

Neil Redfearn and Martin Bullock were instrumental in carving out the opening for Ward, who cut inside before driving in a left-footed drive from 15 yards.

Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich got his hand to the shot, but it contained sufficient power to cross the line.

Villa continued to dominate, but rarely created a chance until the last quarter, as Barnsley often dragged nine or 10 players behind the ball.

Middlesbrough v Swindon

Middlesbrough stormed back to the top of the First Division with a demolition job against Swindon at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro conceded nine goals against Nottingham Forest and QPR last week, but Swindon took the full force of their revenge.

The rout was achieved with two goals apiece from new signings Marco Branca, Alun Armstrong and Neil Maddison.

Boro also paraded Colombian international striker Hamilton Ricard, a £2m signing, before their fans at half-time.

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