FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 2 - 1 Leicester City
(Half-time: 2 - 1)
|« Chelsea||Arsenal »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Bowyer, Bakke, McPhail, Kewell, Bridges, Huckerby (Wilcox 77)||Mills, Jones, Duberry, Robinson|
|Leicester City||Arphexad, Elliott, Taggart, Gilchrist (Zagorakis 65), Sinclair, Savage, Izzet, Eadie, Oakes, Cottee, Heskey||Gunnlaugsson, Campbell, Thomas, Hodges|
|Leeds United||Bridges 28, Bowyer 45|
|Leicester City||Cottee 10|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Bridges, Wilcox|
|Leeds United||Leicester City|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||8, 11||10|
|Stotty||Leicester Match Report|
|The Guardian||On-song Leeds eye long run in charts|
|The Electronic Telegraph||O'Leary's leaders lack a lesson in finishing school|
|The Times||Leicester left reeling by power surge from Leeds|
|Express Sport||O'Leary outfoxes City to avenge cup exit|
|The Independent||Leeds still leaders as Bowyer lifts spirits|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Harry's game a real joy for United|
|BBC||Leeds' campaign gathers pace|
|Soccernet||Leeds United ? - ? Leicester City|
|Carlingnet||Leeds United 2 - 1 Leicester City|
The final game at Elland Road this Millennium. What a fitting way to celebrate this with a magnificent Leeds performance that gives us 12 straight wins at home in all competitions (7 League, 5 Cup)
Leeds, to put it simply, were awesome.
Over the years Leicester have proved to be our Nemesis and after 10 minutes when the diminutive Cottee headed easily home it looked like the same old story was about to unfold.
Leeds had already hit the bar through a looping Kewell header and had forced several corners so there was no need to panic just yet. Woody and Rads gave Martyn and Kelly hellish stares as they contrived to let Leicester in for their first attack, and the first goal scored against Leeds in open play since Moscow away.
Leicester then made two bad mistakes :-
(i) Their fans started singing "can we play you every week?" (ii) Their players, whenever challenged, went down like a sack of spuds - much to the chagrin of the Elland Road faithful. The dB count rose.
The crowd, despite the early setback, lifted the Leeds team to a level I've not seen for a many good year. My judgement may have been clouded by the imbibing of the usual festive spirit but I cant honestly recall a better performance than this one since perhaps 6-1 away at Hillsborough in Wilko's heyday.
Leicester are an incredibly industrious and well organised side, so for us to dominate them for 85 of the 90 minutes indicates the high level of effort that the Leeds puppies gave.
Bakke, Bowyer and McPhail exploited what seemed like acres of midfield space. Bridges and Kewell tormented the big Leicester back 3 with their skill and pace. Huckerby even looked quite threatening (once).
It was no surprise when the equaliser came. Neat work down the right by the lively Kewell left Taggart on his arse and the Aussie's rolled centre was cleverly dummied by the ubiquitous Bowyer and guided nonchalantly into the corner of the goal by Michael Bridges. The Sunderland "reject" was quick to remind the Leicester fans that we were back on level terms.
Leicester were shipwrecked in their own half and Leeds canon-balled them open at will. Kewell, double man-marked, danced his way through the blue rearguard time and time again and Bridges, always making himself available for the ball, led Elliot and Co a merry Christmas dance.
As half-time approached a neat interception by the vastly improving Harte released Bridges whose clever shimmy left 3 defenders wrong footed. He in turn found Bowyer with a cross field pass which the Londoner controlled and turned inside the defence in one deft movement before lashing the ball into the roof of the net.
"Can we play you every week ?" asked the Leeds fans sardonically.
Still time before the break for a superbly struck 20 yard volley from Bowyer to be well saved by Peggy Asphyxia, the Leicester reserve 'keeper. The rebound could have fell more kindly to an alert Bakke who had no room to force the ball home and the keeper smothered it. Eirik could have strangled him.
Half-time brought more good news that Sunderland were getting thrashed at 3-0 Everton. Not many away teams score 4 at Goodison these days !
The second half brought a relentless assault on the Leicester goal. Kewell made mincemeat of his so called markers and Bowyer timing his runs to perfection provided enough movement to keeper the Leicester defence well and truly on the back foot.
However the man who caught the eye the most today was Eirik Bakke. This man has matured impressively over the last couple of weeks. I think the 2 goals against Port Vale settled him down and his performance last week against the Chelsea All-star World XI belied his Premiership inexperience. Against Leicester he worked tirelessly, winning lots of tackles but more importantly he destroyed the Leicester left back in the 2nd half with some nifty footwork and no little pace.
The passing down our right flank was at times breathtaking. Bakke, Bowyer, Kelly and Bridges all combined neatly and there was so much movement off the ball there was sometimes too much choice to split the away defence. Down the left Harte supported Kewell admirably and despite Huckerby's (or should he be called F*ck-up-alot-erby ?) best efforts to b*llocks most things up, we looked dangerous from all angles.
McFrail still beaming following his killer blows at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, provided the flicks and accurate slide-rule passing to cement the whole performance together.
The chances came thick and fast. Bridges was denied by Peggy on a one- on-one, Harte's powerful header was tipped over, Bowyer's flicked header grazed the top of the net, Harte's blockbuster freekick was touched over, Huckerby was held back when through, Bowyer was clearly tripped after an outrageous turn foxed the Foxes defence, Kewell's diving header was turned round the post, Darren Ploperby was marginally offside as he thrashed the ball home and in the final minutes Harry was tripped(or did he dive?) by the keeper when clean through. It had become a procession.
With 10 minutes to go Leeds took a breather. Leicester could not believe their luck. They were still in the game and ventured forward for the 1st time in 70 minutes. A couple of corners provided mild anxiety in our penalty area and an otherwise anonymous Heskey headed tamely at Martyn from 15 yards. Raggerty, a friend of Rupert Bear made entirely of twigs could have stopped it.
By god did Heskey receive some stick from the Leeds crowd. That will guarantee that he will never play for us. It must have affected his game as he was dealt with so easily by Woodgate that the young defender barely had to break into a gallop.
Over the last 20 years or so I've had many Christmases ruined by inept Leeds performances but not this time. I wont forget this Yuletide for a very long time.
Thank you Mr O'Leary for a truly wonderful Christmas present.
Scores ------ Martyn 6 Messed up big time for their goal and was booked for a challenge outside the box. Not much else to do. Kelly 7.5 Martyn's partner in crime for the 1st goal. Good forward play redeemed his earlier aberration. Harte 8.5 His control and passing were pure class. Could have scored 2 goals but for Peggy Daft-hair. Woody 9 Who is Heskey ? Radebe 8 Lost Cottee for the goal but otherwise immaculate. McFrail 7.5 Some world class passes and clever dinks. Bowyer 9 Back to his best. Did everything from tackle like a tiger to create a goal and score one. Deserved to score a hatrick and to win the half-time raffle. Bakke 9.5 Superb display. Like Andrex - strong, long and ermm ...not too rough on the arse (?!). Combined skill and aggression to the maximum. Kewell 9 Beat men at will. Obviously spent a quiet Christmas Day cooking for his bird rather than boozing with Gary Kelly and Nige. While we're on the subject isn't Harry's bird a bit of a dog ? She looks like she's been dragged through a hedge backwards. Get a grip H. Bridges 9 The twinkling star on top of the Leeds Christmas tree. A true God - took the piss out of the Leicester fans too. Huckerby 5 Thank f*ck he's injured for the Arsenal game. Did 5 things right but did 197 things wrong. Sub --- Wilcox 6 Booked, but still showed more composure in 15 mins than Hucks has shown all season. Vying with Darren for the best Christian name in the club. Leeds Fans 9 Sang from start to finish and were treated to a 1st class display Leicester Fans 4 Should have kept quiet. Sang some strange song that sounded like "Zum Zum Zartin ZOneil Zum Zum" for 10 mins. How queer ! Ref 1 His 1st Prem game I believe. Hopefully his last. Tosspot.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 27/12/1999.
The Christmas No1 never stays at the top of the charts until May and the same can happen in the Premiership. The Boxing Day leaders have not been there when it matters in the past two seasons but Leeds gave every indication here at Elland Road yesterday that they intend to change that recent pattern.
The young pretenders to the crown gave Leicester a goal start and then responded with exhilarating attacking football sharpened by the skills and pace of Michael Bridges, who scored one and made the second for Lee Bowyer, and the gifted Harry Kewell.
They took the lead just before the break and the second 45 minutes was played almost exclusively in the Leicester half with their keeper, Pegguy Arphexad, busy and impressive as the shots and headers rained down.
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