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If you spend all day lifting bags of coal then when you come to pick up a bag of sugar it is easy.
When you've recently played against giants such as Deportivo, Arsenal and Valencia, it is somewhat easier when you come up against Bradford City.
On a stiflingly hot day in Leeds, the Bradford City ice cream defence melted. No Wetherall or Molenaar but ex-white Gunner Halle did his best to ensure that Leeds continued to snap at Liverpool's heels in the race into the European Greed League.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 14/05/2001.
The Spanish scars may still be smarting from their traumas at the Mestalla in midweek, but Leeds moved to within sight of third place and Champions League qualification yesterday with the stands booming to ecstatic oles .
This thumping win hoisted David O'Leary's side above Ipswich and to within a point of Liverpool in the chase for third place.
"To take it to the final afternoon is all you can hope for," said the Leeds manager. "We've given ourselves a chance and we haven't had an ounce of luck all season."
Copy from The Independent of 13/05/2001.
When Jim Jefferies said his team would go down fighting the Bradford manager could not have imagined it would be with each other. The brawl between Stuart McCall and Andy Myers that left the Bradford captain badly bruised was merely the most shameful element of a shambolic performance by a side that offered not a whiff of resistance to Leeds' Champions' League ambitions.
After this disembowelling, David O'Leary's men lie fourth with
clear water between themselves and Ipswich in terms of goal
difference. To qualify, however, they still rely on Charlton
holding Liverpool and backing themselves to beat Leicester on the
last day of the season. "We deserve a crumb of luck,'' O'Leary
said. "Because we have had none all
Thepfight between Myers and McCall, which ended with a handshake in the dressing-room, came at the end of as disastrous a fprst half as Bradford can have known.
When in September they conceded six at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson commented that Bradford did not smell like a team that would finish bottom, but for once his antennae were deceiving him. Going into the interval 5-1 down, they looked a team that might conceivably finish at the foot of the First Division next season.
By contrast, the only after effects Leeds displayed from their European Cup semi-final defeat in Valencia were the severe haircuts adopted to foster team spirit. The Bradford back four, never the most formidable institution, was completely unable to deal with the pace and range of skill deployed against them.
It took a shade under a quarter of an hour for the first breakthrough, after which a goal came at a rate of one every five minutes until the interval. Thereafter, the match went to sleep in the sun. The Bantams showed they could still be game birds with Eoin Jess forcing a fine, one-handed save from Nigel Martyn and Benito Carbone making wildly ambitious and wildly unsuccessful attempts to score. Until six minutes from the end, when Wayne Jacobs made a hash of cutting out Ian Harte's cross to present Lee Bowyer with a sixth, they even managed to keep Leeds at bay.
Bradford's problems began when Gary Walsh was injured in the warm-up and had to be replaced in goal by Aidan Davidson, who had not started a Premiership match all season and who was entitled to expect rather better protection. However, without a recognised centre back, Harte's crosses sent the defence into constant jitters and when Mark Viduka met the Irishman's centre with a flying header the floodgates opened. You could tell the home team's mood by the way Harte pointed exactly to the spot where McCall had fouled Viduka 25 yards out and just as deliberately floated his free-kick into the corner of the net for the second.
Bradford briefly threatened when Ashley Ward held off Danny Mills to clip Jess's through ball home but it was to prove a mirage in the heat. In the 27th minute Alan Smith's pass sliced through the porous line of claret and amber shirts and although Eirik Bakke looked to have waited too long, his toe-ender from the edge of the six-yard box was still too good. Mills, galloping down the right, continued the rampage, putting Jacobs on his back before sending over a centre that was knocked down by Viduka into Smith's path. Of the avalanche of goals, the fifth was the best; created by a long punt upfield from Martyn that found Harry Kewell, the only Leeds player in the Bradford half, who fended away Ian Nolan to heap further humiliation on a team that too often has been buried alive in the stuff.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 14/05/2001.
ONE down, one to go was the message from United boss David O'Leary after his side crushed Bradford to keep their Champions League dream alive.
It was an awesome display from a Leeds side who now enter the final day of the campaign clinging to the hope of facing the cream of Europe once again.
O'Leary had demanded victory over the Bantams but not even he could have foreseen the one-sided demolition of a side already condemned to Division One football next season.
Bradford simply could not cope with a ferocious first-half onslaught from a United side showing few ill-effects from Tuesday's Champions League semi-final defeat against Valencia.
In blazing sunshine O'Leary's boys raced to a 5-1 lead at half-time through goals from Mark Viduka, Ian Harte, Eirik Bakke, Alan Smith and Harry Kewell, yet despite dominating after the break only had a Lee Bowyer effort to add to their tally.
O'Leary was delighted to be in the hat for the final-day Champions League lottery. They must now beat Leicester and hope Liverpool either draw or lose at Charlton.
"I am delighted that everything is going down to the last game," he said.
"I wish every season was like that. If you go into the last day of the season knowing you can get something then it shows you are not doing too bad.
"Only time will tell if we succeed, but we have given ourselves a chance and while I don't think we have had an ounce of luck all season, you never know. It would be lovely to get one little crumb of luck in our home game against Leicester next week.
"It was important for us to win this match. Now all I know is that we have to win our last game. We have done the first bit, now we have to complete the job."
O'Leary admitted his players had been feeling the affects of Tuesday night's defeat and commended them on an immense show of character.
"I was delighted with the lads and their attitude in the first half," he said. "I thought the football was good, we scored goals and we got about them. It was a great way to bounce back after the disappointment of Europe.
"The players were a little bit down before the game, they were disappointed after Tuesday night, but with two games left it was important to win them both.
"I am already looking forward to next season and I want to end on a high this campaign.
"We knew before today that there were six days and six points to be won, we have got three and hopefully we can achieve another three next Saturday."
It is quite amazing to think United still have a chance to make it back into the Champions League. Such talk would have resulted in a visit from the men in white coats back in January - such is the enormity of O'Leary's and his players' achievement.
Mission Impossible is still very much a possibility and if United put in a display anywhere close to this against Leicester on Saturday then there is no doubt they will have achieved one half of the requirement. Whether Liverpool slip up at Charlton, like they did last year against Bradford, is another matter.
O'Leary gave the same 11 who had lost at Valencia in midweek the chance to bury the ghost of their European defeat - and bury it they did against a very poor Bradford side who surely cannot wait for their horrendous season to end.
Leeds dominated from the kick-off and it was amazing it took until the 14th minute to take the lead.
Harte won space down the left flank, beat Ian Nolan and whipped in a right-footed cross to the near post where Viduka leapt full length to deflect a diving header past Aidan Davidson.
The young goalkeeper, who was only playing because of an injury to Gary Walsh in the warm-up, was beaten again five minutes later when creator turned finisher and Harte curled one of his special free-kicks into the net.
The home crowd were baying for blood but before they got their wish there was a shock in store as Bradford pulled a goal back through Ashley Ward.
Scotsman Eoin Jess, by far Bradford's best player, played in the former Derby marksman who turned and fired low past Nigel Martyn.
It shook Elland Road to silence. But not for long as Leeds soon restored their two-goal lead.
Smith's vision created it, clipping a delightful ball into the path of Bakke and the Norwegian made no mistake planting the ball past Davidson with the outside of his right boot.
Smith, who had been through an emotional roller-coaster ride since being sent off in Valencia, then went some way to putting his troubles behind him by notching the fourth.
Danny Mills broke down the right, crossed into the box for Viduka and the Aussie knocked down into the path of Smith, who belted the ball past Davidson from close-range. The relief was there for all to see as the youngster punched the air in celebration.
It was turning into a rout and, powered on by the outstanding Bakke and Olivier Dacourt at the heart of midfield, Leeds continued to press.
They did not have to wait long before the fifth arrived, and what a special goal it was.
Nigel Martyn launched a huge kick down field for Kewell to chase. He teed the ball up on his knee, jinked past Nolan and drew Davidson before flicking the ball with ease past the beleaguered keeper.
The rout was too much for the Bradford players to bear and tempers flared when Andy Myers punched his own skipper Stuart McCall.
Only the intervention of former United defender Gunnar Halle prevented a fight and McCall walked off at half-time sporting a cut cheek and a black eye.
Bradford boss Jim Jefferies switched things around in the second half but his side had no answer to the one-touch, at times, exhibition football on display from United.
Leeds were simply too good and although Nigel Martyn did need to pull off one fine finger-tip save from Jess, predictably it was the hosts who had the final say as they rounded off an impressive victory.
Kewell swung in a cross from the left, Jacobs missed it, Davidson hesitated and Bowyer sidefooted home.
Mission accomplished - now roll on Leicester and what is bound to be a day of high drama on Saturday.