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For a whole variety of reasons, I couldn't make it up to Leeds for the game today, and after 20 minutes I was counting my blessings that I was only watching it on the TV. DOL had only named four subs, saying that he wouldn't want to play the youngsters who were available so there was no point in them sitting on the bench. Jon Woodgate's early contribution to the game was to foul the incessantly booed Heskey near the right touchline. Berger's free kick found the unmarked Sami Hyppia on the six yard line and Paul Robinson could do nothing other than pick the ball out of the net.
Our good friend Mr Elleray then booked Lee Bowyer for winning the ball, and Lee was then very lucky that a couple of subsequent challenges - which were far more dubious - went punished by no more than a free kick. Jon Woodgate was replaced by Danny Hay after 15 minutes with a thigh strain, and the writing was on the wall. With Leeds unable to hold on to the ball, Gary Kelly tried to be too clever by the right corner flag, and was forced to bring down Berger when he was dispossessed. Gary McAllister's free kick found Ziege and Robinson once again had to throw the ball back to the centre spot.
Strangely enough, this was when the game started to change. After their fantastic start, Liverpool relaxed, Lee Bowyer found more space in midfield and suddenly Alan Smith and Mark Viduka were getting a bit more of the ball. Smith's workrate was exceptional today, and it was his failure to give up a lost cause that put Ziege under pressure. Smith managed to deflect Ziege's clearance across the box and there was Mark Viduka to slot the ball home - 1-2 and we were right back in it. We still tried our best to give it away before the end of the first half, and Paul Robinson was fractionally lucky to block a chance when Liverpool had a 3 on 1 break. With injury time running out, Smith drove Leeds forward again and Elleray awarded a free kick 10 yards outside the area, with Ziege being carded. Berger charged the kick down with his arms - another yellow. Harte's kick was heading to the far post, but Gary McAllister had other ideas, attempting to block the kick but glancing a header onto the base of the near post wit Westerveld flat-footed. For the first time, the Leeds fans managed to raise the volume and confidence was up leading into half time.
We then had an object lesson in how to start a half. With less than a minute on the clock, Gary Kelly took on Ziege, got past him and produced a great cross. In the middle, three centre backs were marking the space around Leeds' two front men and Viduka's brilliant header left Westerveld with no chance. 2-2 - what a comeback, let's finish the game now we thought.
After more Leeds pressure, Alan Smith failed to score from one of the easiest chances he'll ever have. Credit to Jamie Carragher for getting a toe to the Smith's shot after the striker had gained possession because of a defensive mix-up, but he made a very poor contact with ball when faced with an open goal 8 yards out. On the hour one of the best moves of the game saw the Leeds bubble punctured with Berger combining with Smicer for the latter to make space and fire home from just outside the six yard box. Again, Robinson could do little more than pick the ball out.
Finally showing some of the team spirit that has come out on fewer occasions than we'd like this year, Leeds dug deep. Dacourt played a great through ball for Viduka, who looked like he'd taken it too wide before playing the ball past Westerveld, through Gerrard's legs and in off the post. 3-3 - right back in it. Maybe we can hang on.
Two minutes later, Dacourt shot speculatively from 35 yards but the ball was intercepted by Viduka in a - slightly - offside position. Viduka didn't wait for the flag, headed goalwards and produced a delicate chip over Westerveld. The ball hit the side of the net - from the inside - and the ground went mad.
15 minutes to hold on - plus 3 minutes of injury time. After two late goals from Tranmere and Barca, this time we got lucky. The whistle went and we had a slightly lucky victory - but maybe this was a bit of compensation for 1991 when we were denied an equaliser in the 4-5 defeat at home when Lee Chapman committed the heinous foul of putting his head in the way of Mike Hooper's fist while putting the ball in the back of the net.
Worrying points: if we can't muster 16 for a league game, and we could have lost Jon Woodgate too, how can we manage 18 for Wednesday night? But let's ignore that for the moment and celebrate one of the greatest league performances by a Leeds side for a long time. Credit obviously to Viduka - the first time in nearly 30 years that a Leeds player has scored 4 times in a match. Cheers to Alan Smith for a hard-working and controlled performance. But add to them Jacob Burns, improving every game and Danny Hay - still possibly a bit short of top-flight quality but full of heart and definitely gaining from the experience of playing in these tough games week in and week out. And particularly Lee Bowyer - midfield dynamo, battler, creator, motivator: for the sake of Leeds and England, I hope he's innocent of the crime of which he is accused, because his talent is too precious to waste.
What is Alan Green on ?
On leaving Elland Road yesterday I turned on my radio and to my astonishment heard the once much respected Five Live commentator saying to the effeminate Mark Lawrenson - "Despite it being 4-3 you cant say it was a good game". He meant it. Lawrenson choked like a public school boy at his "initiation" ceremony.
Well if that wasn't a good game then we may all as well pack in.
Surely the whole point of football is to entertain the viewing, or indeed in Mr Alan Smarmy F@@@face Green's case the listening public. What more did he want ?
Copy from Football Unlimited of 06/11/2000.
Nothing has ever energised the Australian nation more than the unquenchable spirit of the Sydney Olympics and nowhere has that been more apparent than in the case of Mark Viduka. The Olyroos were an Australian rarity in Sydney - they flopped - but Viduka has returned to Leeds like a man possessed.
With an entire team of injuries and a central defence that looked wholly inadequate, it required something spectacular for Leeds to conjure up a victory over Liverpool. Viduka produced it: four goals in a performance as impressive for its effort, for which he has not always been renowned, as its craft, which is unmistakable. As one Leeds fan playfully inquired on an internet message board: "Did someone in Sydney give Viduka an illegal Olympic super drug?"
What Viduka did benefit from in Sydney was a legal Olympic drug - the overpowering sense of sporting pride and spirit that permeated every corner of the games, and fulfilled Australians more than most. Viduka wanted to bask in that acclaim and recognised, after the Olyroos' failure, that his reputation could only be made in the Premiership.
Copy from The Independent of 04/11/2000.
Corrected Scoreline: Mark Viduka 4 Liverpool 3. It was that much of a one-man show by the Australian and that much of a shambles for Liverpool, who led 2-0 after 17 minutes and 3-2 on the hour.
Quite how they managed to lose their way against a team reduced to fielding only four fit substitutes and further weakened by the loss of Jonathan Woodgate, taken off after 18 minutes with a thigh strain will be a mystery to Gérard Houllier, the Liverpool manager, not least because his side were the meanest in the division last season. And if anyone spots a bemused Italian still wandering the streets of Leeds this morning, could they please send him back to Milan. He will be the scout for Leeds' opponents in the Champions' League on Wednesday night.
His tactical rundown on this crazy match of clinical finishing, suicidal defence, dreadful passing and tactical nihilism might as well be delivered in Iambic pentameters for all the relevance it will have to the continued progress of Leeds in Europe. If Leeds play as lethargically in the San Siro as they did for the first half at Elland Road yesterday, it will be"arrivederci Europe".
Not that David O'Leary was too bothered by the future at lunchtime yesterday. At the end, he bounded on to the pitch to enfold Viduka in a bear hug, shook hands with anyone in range and bounced through his press conference as if frightened that someone would tap him on the shoulder and wake him up. When he contemplates his diminishing defensive options for midweek against Andrei Shevchenko, the most lethal striker on the continent, the smile might wear thin but, for the moment, his side are surviving in the Premier League on a shoestring.
"At 2-0 down, I didn't think I'd be talking like this but with Viduka and Alan Smith, you've always got a chance to score goals," the Leeds manager said, making a mental note to add the Liverpool defence to his Christmas card list. But it was not all Liverpool's incompetence. Viduka's goals varied from the merely efficient to the breathtakingly clinical, each one of them defying the clumsiness of some of his work and mocking the derision heaped upon him by some Leeds fans earlier in the season. The Olympics have revived the Australian, whose record of no goals in five games before Sydney and 10 in eight since speaks volumes for the healing powers of home life. "Superb goals," O'Leary termed them. Yet, had Emile Heskey attended the same finishing school, Viduka might still have ended his morning as a loser.
In his bustling style, Viduka will remind the Elland Roadelders of Mick Jones, Don Revie's centre-forward. He is a more accomplished striker than Lee Chapman, whose goals helped Leeds to the title under Howard Wilkinson. Of his four goals, three were neatly taken shots across or over the goalkeeper and one was the sort of purposeful header that Jones once patented. From the moment, just after half-time, that Gary Kelly launched a cross from the byline, Viduka had claimed the airspace and his header past Westerveld's left hand was the sort of old-fashioned goal that went out with laced footballs.
That Leeds were still in the game by then was a miracle. At a conservative estimate, Leeds should have been 4-1 down by half-time as Sami Hyypia opened the scoring with a near- post header from a Patrik Berger free-kick after 100 seconds and Christian Ziege, in a mirror image move, increased the lead. The clock showed 17 minutes. With Woodgate replaced by Danny Hay and Dominic Matteo struggling to exert any control over the rampant Heskey, Liverpool looked as though they would score with every forward move, while Bowyer's truculence was stretching the patience of referee David Elleray. Booked for a late tackle, Bowyer caught Heskey just below the knee with his studs and, on another day, might have seen red.
Then Liverpool's psychotic tendency emerged in the form of an elementary mistake by Ziege, whose clearance was diverted by Smith into the path of Viduka. Leeds gained heart, but only a great save by Paul Robinson from Dietmar Hamann and Kelly's head, intercepting Heskey's goalbound header, saved the home side from heavier punishment, though Ian Harte's free-kick was diverted on to a post by Gary McAllister on the stroke of half-time. A minute into the second half and Leeds were level and they should have gone ahead after amix-up in the centre of the Liverpool defence allowed Smith to roll the ball towards an empty net. He did so, a fraction too casually, and Jamie Carragher stretched to block the shot.
Vladimir Smicer's excellently-taken goal on the hour seemed to have settled the issue, yet proved only the prelude to the decisive two goals by Viduka, both clipped into the corner from acute angles. Houllier thought at least one was offside, but his team deserved nothing. To compound the bad news, Berger was carried off with damaged knee ligaments. "Lucky Leeds again, eh?" said O'Leary. Houllier did not share the joke.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 05/11/2000.
Most people will remember the Olympics for Steve Redgrave's fifth gold medal, Cathy Freeman's 400 metres victory or that unsuccessful swimmer Eric the Eel. Elland Road fans will look back on Sydney with fond memories because it marked the dramatic watershed in the Leeds career of Mark Viduka.
In five matches before he left to represent Australia in those games the £6million summer signing from Celtic failed to score and travelled to Sydney with the cries of the disgruntled crowd ringing in his ears.
But in nine matches since his return Viduka has found the net on 10 occasions and he walked off the pitch here with three sides of the ground chanting his name after he had hit all four of Leeds goals. It sealed a victory which made a mockery of Liverpool's record of having the best defensive record in the Premiership last season.
Copy from SportLive of 04/11/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Morning kick-offs are hated by English football people - but for an Australian they are obviously seventh heaven.
It was around 9.30 in the evening Melbourne time as they sat down in the bars and pubs and saw Aussie hero Mark Viduka play in a classic Premiership confrontation.
Perhaps Viduka was working on Down Under time, too, because his magnificent four-goal show gave Leeds an extraordinary win at Elland Road.
Manager David O'Leary had only 15 fit players and so, amazingly for a top club, could not fill his substitutes' bench.
Then his team conceded two goals in the first 16 minutes and lost central defender Jonathan Woodgate to a thigh muscle injury.
On came another young Australian, rookie centre-back Danny Hay ... and bouncing back like an enraged kangaroo came this young Leeds team, for whom no cause is lost.
At times their energy and passion spilled over the line between what is acceptable and what isn't. Lee Bowyer was lucky not to be sent off after studs-showing lunges at Vladimir Smicer and then Emile Heskey.
But it was impossible to deny the panache with which Leeds perform - certainly impossible for a Liverpool side who remain flawed in defence. And it was impossible to deny the calm brilliance of Viduka as both sides created an avalanche of chances.
Liverpool took the lead after one minute and 41 seconds when Sami Hyypia headed in from a whipped cross by Patrik Berger. An almost identical second from Christian Ziege after 16 minutes left huge question marks against the makeshift Leeds rearguard. Liverpool, coming into the match after five successive wins, should have cantered home.
O'Leary had aired his dislike of these early kick-offs. Yet just before noon (10pm Down Under) the tide began to turn. The persistent Alan Smith blocked an attempted clearance by Ziege and the ball fell to Viduka, who chipped the keeper with ease.
The home crowd began to sense this was no ordinary occasion and Liverpool wasted three more chances to finish off the game before half-time. Smicer headed over, Dieter Hamann blasted straight at Leeds keeper Paul Robinson and Heskey saw a goalbound header diverted over the bar by Gary Kelly.
But the Reds paid for their profligacy.
Within a minute of the restart, Viduka had equalised, heading in unchallenged eight yards out from a Kelly cross. That summed up the inadequate nature of both defences. Sure, this was hugely exciting and entertaining action - but the quality left much to be desired.
Next, it was Leeds turn to be wasteful. A terrible back-pass by Markus Babbel gave teenage striker Smith an open goal to shoot at. Yet the potential England forward was too casual, Jamie Carragher clearing his mis-hit effort. Back came Liverpool. Heskey shot straight at Robinson and Babbel had a header blocked at point-blank range before a sweeping move down the left flank gave Smicer time to twist in the box and shoot low into the net to restore the visitors' lead.
Surely Leeds could not respond again? Oh yes they could. With Ziege off the pitch, winded by a ferocious shot from Oliver Dacourt taken full in the stomach, Leeds equalised again. Dacourt fed Viduka, who sprang past a bewildered defence to shoot in off a post. Berger had been turned every which way trying to tame the kangaroo, and twisted his knee so badly that he was carried off.
Two minutes later, Viduka won the match with a controversial seventh goal of the game.
Smith looked two yards offside as the ball was played forward by Dacourt again. The referee and linesman ruled Smith was not interfering with play and Viduka repeated his earlier chip cleverly for his fourth goal.
That made it 10 goals in nine games for the classy striker, who cost £6.5million from Celtic in the summer. Yet he seemed surprised the match had been beamed live back to his homeland for prime-time evening viewing.
"That means everything to me," said the Aussie. "It was just one of those lucky days when every chance was a goal. I don't think I had an exceptionally good game."
Quite true. But they couldn't have cared less over their lunchtime pints in Yorkshire ... or in the heaving bars Down Under.
(4-4-2): Robinson 7; Kelly 6, Woodgate 5 (Hay 15 5), Matteo 5, Harte
5; Bowyer 6, Bakke 5, Dacourt 6, Burns 5; Viduka 8, Smith 6. Booked:
Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Westerveld 6;
Carragher 6, Babbel 5, Hyypia 5, Ziege 5; Murphy 5 (Fowler 67 5), Hamann 7, McAllister 6
(Gerrard 67 6), Berger 6 (Barmby 74 5); Smicer 7; Heskey 6. Booked: Ziege, Babbel, Berger,
Victorious Mark Viduka smashed four goals to sink Liverpool at Elland Road and insisted: "I've played better."
The Leeds striker had four chances - and scored every time as Liverpool slumped from 2-0 up to a 4-3 defeat.
Viduka's sensational solo show brought Leeds manager David O'Leary running on to the pitch at the final whistle to congratulate his Australian star. It was the kind of destructive display which could yet see his team reach the second phase of the Champions League when they face AC Milan on Wednesday.
If United had travelled to face the Italians on the back of a sixth successive match without a win, only the most die-hard Leeds fans would have given them a chance, but now Viduka has sent spirits soaring.
With typical modesty, the striker said: "It was one of those days. Every time I had a sniff of goal it went in. We got off to a pretty bad start and conceded two goals from set pieces and it was an uphill battle from then on. I don't think I had an exceptionally good game - I have performed better but not scored this many goals."
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier said: "We are very disappointed. At times we outplayed Leeds, but we have to blame ourselves for allowing them back into the game. Our defence physically collapsed at the end, and we were not clinical enough with our finishing.
"For Leeds fourth goal, I felt Alan Smith was offside. I didn't think it was a good decision - it was dodgy. That unbalanced the result."
David O'Leary, the Leeds manager, said: "I loved beating Liverpool as a player and I do as a manager. We had a bit of luck, but this club has such a big heart and I always felt Viduka and Smith could give Liverpool problems. Viduka's goals were superb."
Rottweiler-owning striker Mark Viduka repaid his master fourfold on Saturday and earned himself a full reprieve from the doghouse.
The Australian international upset David O'Leary earlier in the summer by insisting on travelling halfway around the world to take part in the Sydney Olympics while the current injury crisis at Elland Road was just starting to take hold.
But the Leeds manager prides himself on being firm but fair, and the four new tricks the not-so-old dog produced against Liverpool showed he has a pedigree beyond his monetary value.
O'Leary admitted that he had issued a challenge to Viduka on his return from Australia, but gave the 24-year-old a verbal pat on the head for meeting it head on.
It is said that a dog often looks like his owner and in the same way O'Leary was impressed that his £6 million striker removed any question marks with his four-goal haul with the same honest and committed display that typified the Republic of Ireland international's own lengthy career.
"I had thrown the gauntlet down and said the only way to answer anybody is on the field of play," O'Leary said. "That is what he has done. He went to the Olympics, he has cleared his head, and he has come back.
"Now he wants to play, do well for Leeds and do well for himself. He got those goals in Scotland and wasn't given the credit and now he wants to see if he can test himself down here.
"It is a better league here and tougher to score goals and what I liked was that he wasn't coming here just to see out a couple of years. He wanted to prove himself in the Premiership."
And what goals. The first was a powerful near-post header, followed within a minute of the restart by a cooly-finished second after Christian Ziege's clearance was deflected into his path by Alan Smith.
For the third he turned Patrik Berger so completely that he picked up a groin strain that could keep him out of some weeks.
And while there was more than an element of offside about the winner, there was no doubt that Viduka would once again chip the ball over the advancing Sander Westerweld.
But already Viduka is looking forward - to the small matter of a clash with AC Milan on Wednesday.
He said: "I am getting sharper by the game, because before the Olympics I was unfit. But now I can feel I am getting fitter and stronger all the time.
"I will settle for one goal in Milan. It is a massive game for us and to get in the next part of the Champions League would be brilliant."
Liverpool's German defender Markus Babbel knows that his side have themselves to blame.
He said: "We gave away some stupid goals.
"It is not the first time we have let a lead slip away from us, but now we have been beaten by our three direct competitors for the championship."
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 06/11/2000.
THE avaricious appetite for goals which made Mark Viduka the leading scorer in Scotland last season is far from satisfied and threatens the rest of the Premiership with few crumbs of comfort.
The huge and immensely talented Australian's exquisite quartet against Liverpool took his tally to ten in just 14 league and cup games and it would be no surprise at all to see him leave Kevin Phillips' Golden Boot haul of 30 last season well and truly in the shade.
Pleasingly, Viduka's goalscoring knack is matched by his ability to hold up the ball and some excellent close control.
At £6m his capture from Celtic was a masterstroke in a season which is proving that Leeds need all the help they can muster.
Family and friends watched the early kick-off game live on television in Australia in Elland Road's own version of Home And Away.
An away win looked a certainty when Liverpool scored after 100 seconds, went two up in 17 minutes and threatened to run riot with a wave of assaults on Paul Robinson's goal.
Viduka had other ideas. Having watched Liverpool spurn chance after chance with finishing that was laughably inept at times, he personally took the game by the throat and gobbled up everything that came his way.
The man of the match modestly played down his contribution, saying: "It was one of those games. Every time I had a sniff at goal it went in. Sometimes, very rarely, you get that kind of game. It was good to be a part of it anyway.
"I didn't really think I played all that well.I have scored four before in a match, although never at this level.
"We gained in confidence after drawing level and it ran right through the team."
Said United manager David O'Leary: "I loved beating Liverpool as a player and I certainly enjoyed this as a manager. I always thought that Viduka and Smith up front had the measure of their defence and could score at any time. And we won despite Smithy missing the chance of the season!"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, showing remarkable composure for one whose cage had been so violently rattled, said: "Our defence was exhausted in the last 20 minutes after our Worthington Cup endeavours against Chelsea, but we view this as three points thrown away."
United were boosted by the return in midfield of Olivier Dacourt and Lee Bowyer while Dominic Matteo reverted to a central defensive role alongside Jonathan Woodgate against his old club.
Manager David O'Leary took the unprecedented step of naming only four substitutes as the injury crisis continues to decimate his squad.
Ziege's early free kick found Heskey, and though he was unable to direct his header Liverpool raced into the lead with less than two minutes on the clock.
Another free kick out on the right was floated over by Berger and skipper Sami Hyypia rose above everybody to glance his header into the far corner.
It was all Liverpool and when Woodgate failed to clear properly Berger was allowed a free shot at goal but it bobbled wide.
United were dealt a further injury blow when Woodgate limped out of the action on 16 minutes with a pulled thigh muscle to be replaced by Danny Hay and, immediately, Liverpool went two up.
Kelly upended Berger on the left and when McAllister delivered his free kick Christian Ziege was miles above the pack to head home.
Leeds at last manufactured an attack and when Burns crossed Smith did well to get in a header which was not far wide of the target.
Then United pulled one back in the 24th minute, the persistence of Smith allowing him to rob a statuesque Ziege before lobbing Viduka into play. Cleverly, Viduka chipped his shot over the advancing Westerveld and Leeds were back in it.
They were caught napping by a quick free kick which saw Smicer shoot narrowly wide, then Kelly was forced to concede a corner as Heskey threatened.
Liverpool wasted a golden opprtunity to extend their lead eight minutes before the break when Ziege's cross gave Smicer a free header in front of goal, but he was well over the bar.
Then Robinson saved the day with an excellent stop one-on-one with Hamann as the United defence went awol.
And United breathed again when Heskey's powerful header from McAllister's cross looked certain to go in only for Kelly to pop up from nowhere and direct it for a corner.
A splendid shot from Dacourt brought a flying save from Westerveld as Leeds rallied and when Berger handled on the edge of the area Harte's free kick was headed clear via a post by McAllister.
Within a minute of the restart Leeds were level, Kelly bursting down the right from Bakke's quick free kick and crossing brilliantly for Viduka to head powerfully home at the near post.
And they should have been ahead in the 51st minute when a poor backbass from Babbel let in Smith who, having rounded Westerveld, was casual enough to allow Carragher to get in a vital goal-saving challenge.
At the other end Robinson spread himself to keep out Heskey, but Liverpool were swiftly back on the offensive and Harte got in a vital block to keep out Babbel's goalbound header from Berger's cross.
Liverpool were back in front on the hour when, after good work by Ziege, Berger crossed for Smicer to cut inside Matteo and bury his shot in the bottom corner for his first goal of the season.
Bowyer spotted Westerveld off his line and tried a lob that was just too high before Liverpool made a double substitution in the 67th minute, introducing Fowler and Gerrard for Murphy and McAllister.
Dacourt's powerful shot from Bowyer's corner was kept out at some personal cost by Ziege and then, in the 73rd minute, an excellent ball through from Dacourt found Viduka, who twisted and turned his way through two challenges before firing home for a splendid hat-trick.
Two minutes later United, incredibly, were in front for the first time in the game and it was that man Viduka who again did the damage, picking up on Dacourt's mishit shot and delicately chipping in.
A fantastic match, but the kind which guarantees managers with high defensive standards premature baldness.