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It's always nice to beat Chewlsea even though it was a frustrating game for me. The result was fine but the performance seemed to be affected at times by those who were already looking forward to Wednesday night...
Martyn 8. Great saves (especially from the Nephew). Kicking poor.
Mills 8. On this form, should get the number 2 shirt next year.
Rio 8. Zola only comes up to his knee-caps and Jimmy doesn't jump anyway so Rio had an easy day.
Matteo 8. Quietly competent in the face of an absentee attack.
Nephew 7. Nearly scored the best own goal since his Uncle's header. Good kicking. Actually tackled someone and one the ball (once).
Batts 9. Luckily Walker was subbed before Batts could extract his due revenge. Little contratemps with the cabbie-beater and/ or Le Fag after the final whistle.
Ollie 10. Man of the match, by a mile. Awesome. Booked for going within a yard of the cabbie-beater.
LeeBowya 8. Our very own Duracell Bunny - He's here, he's there, he wears no underwear. Lee Bowyaaa. Mastered the cockney bastards.
H 6. Either not fit or simply lost his bottle since his injury? No penetration, wants to beat everyone twice in slow-mo instead of easing past them. One good shot. One Sniffer impression at a throw-in. Nuisance value. Occasional show-boating. See me after school.
Smiffy 9. Mick the Mover meets Mike Tyson.
Pieman 8. Excellent goal. Lazy bastard for very, very long periods. Sometimes wants us to walk the ball in. Holds the ball well, distribution spot on. Why do I have reservations?
Keano 9. Knows where the goal is. Whatever happened to the 4-2-4 formation? We could give even the very best, very big problems with a front-line of H, Pieman, Smiffy and Keano. Is O' Dreary listening?
Bakke 7. Obviously missing Alfi. Got booked for looking badly at the cabbie-beater (hmmm maybe a theme there?)
Referee: zero Blind, bent or bewildered? Take your pick. Good example was when Smiffy caught a defender slightly late on the edge of their box. Mr Dunn saw that the defender had hoofed it upfield before Smiffy's attention, putting Poyet well clear... Advantage played then? No way, they got their free kick, 60 yards back. A real win-win there then.
Linesman (Lowfields side) zero. Regularly gave the ball out when it clearly wasn't. This caused some consternation when they tried to work out where to take the throw from, nobody knew where it had gone out, for the very good reason it hadn't. More seriously, failed in his role as the Referee's assistant to point out that the cabbie-beater took a serious dive when Ollie did not make contact. Piss poor, an embarrassment to the human race. Wenger/ Ferguson like on numerous other occasions when it should have gone our way. Biased, moi?
In the morgue (AKA East Stand) before the game we pontificated over whether JFH would score; the general consensus being the bastard probably would. As it turns out, we needn't have feared - he was s***e. Who knows whether it was the crescendo of boos he received every time he touched the ball, or whether it was just one of his lazy games... Whichever way, he wasn't really a threat. And apart from a fantastic shot by Zola that hit the post in the second half, JFH's strike partner posed little threat either. But that's not to say that Chelsea couldn't have won this, at 0-0 half way through the second half it could have gone either way. Melchiott brought a fine point blank save from Nige, Harte earlier also brought an excellent, twisting, tip-over-the-bar save from Nige trying to clear a great cross from Le Saux, of whom we learned partway through the game - from The Kop's biology lesson - apparently likes anal sex. That wasn't quite the way they described it, but I'm sure you get the gist...
However, Leeds deserved the win. On a sun drenched, but chilly morning we were treated to an end to end, full tilt, entertaining game that saw many of the stiffs in the morgue singing and shouting at the return of the prodigal Dutch son and the general hatred of Chewlsea. The Chewlsea fans themselves did the usual "Shall we sing a song for you" in the inevitable patches of Premiership silence (which were much shorter periods than normal), but they were a pretty poor bunch of away fans, especially considering they had the whole of the south stand. They only managed one pathetic attempt at "Bowyer's going down", which was soon drowned out by "Lee Bowya, Lee Bowya" and "Bowyer for England" apart from the usual, bizarre "One Man Went To Mow" - what *is* that all about?
The match was an incident packed, open game that saw Bowyer have a brilliant header from a Batty cross/Kewell header just tipped round the corner and a point blank save from Cudicini when he [Bowyer] looked odds on to score; Dacourt lashed a free kick just over; Kewell smashed a drive just over; Bowyer burst through the defence to latch on to a Kewell cross but shinned wide. There were penalty claims galore, one where Desailly thought he was playing rugby and did a touchdown in the area; but the Referee, Clive Dunn, or at least it might have been Grandad for the all the good he was yesterday, stood doing a Prince Charles, hands behind his back and gave sod all.
As time was running out Jimmy went up for a header with Dacourt and elbowed him in the throat; a certain number 23 got sent off for possibly something less last week, but he was shown only the yellow card. The atmosphere went up a notch as even the bloke who sits to my right was shouting "off-off-off". Can we play Chewlsea every week, please? It's almost like a proper atmosphere.
As we were resigning ourselves to falling two points behing Ipswich, Mills cannoned a header forwards towards sub number one (Bakke - for Bowyer); Bakke made like a star, arms and legs everywhere, one foot probably still on the ground and flicked the ball through to sub number two - D'OL's really getting the hang of this sub thing :-) - (Keane on for Kewell) who was suddenly past everyone and through one on one on the keeper.
Why are we so *s***e* at these one on ones?
In a similar-ish way to Bowyer getting past Westerweld at Anfield, Keane ploughed through Cudicini with a very lucky rebound off the 'keeper and rolled the ball, left footed into the empty net. Chelsea went quiet, but we went beserk. A sweet time to score.
Chelsea's heads went down and the game looked over. When Harte pumped a long ball up field which Viduka latched onto, got past Desailly, leaving the Frenchman piroutteing like a ballet dancer and smashed the ball high into the net, it most definitely was over. Up in the morgue it was like Night of the Living Dead with almost everyone singing "Jimmy, what's the score" and "Let's all laugh at Jimmy". Fantastic.
In the morgue, the post mortem started. Great to have two centre backs who are so good on the ball, great to have a centre midfield who royally rule the roost over most games and great to have centre forwards who score plenty of goals. Now if only one of those centre forwards had some Real pace, he'd be a world beater, not a pie eater...
Inside every fat footballer there is a thin one trying to get out.
Mark Viduka need not bother trying. We love him as he is.
Before the match the players stood listening and nodding to Brain (sic) Kidd and Eddie Gray. Mark Viduka was by far the biggest player in the team. As tall as Rio Ferdinand but twice the width of the world's costliest defender. He looked a fearsome sight.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 30/04/2001.
The idea of Leeds United winning the European Cup is now perfectly feasible. They may not be the best side in Europe or, indeed, in England but they look like saving their best till last, much as Real Madrid did to win the trophy a year ago. And in tournaments like the Champions League timing is everything.
As a dry run for Wednesday's home leg of their semi-final against Valencia the hard-working 2-0 victory Leeds achieved against Chelsea at Elland Road on Saturday, when Robbie Keane and Mark Viduka scored in the last four minutes, satisfied a number of requirements.
Not only did it restore Leeds to third in the Premiership while guaranteeing them a Uefa Cup place next season should all else fail, it also gave David O'Leary's team a chance to show they could still win games without playing especially well, or at least not being allowed to do so.
Copy from The Independent of 29/04/2001.
Tradition decrees that these teams tend to approach each other like two east London gangland families. Much mutual respect, but rather more malice-aforethought. Yesterday's confrontation was a continuation of that theme. Indeed Vinnie Jones, a former player of both sides, would have been in his element here as old scores were settled and new ones generously created. A goalless outcome might have been more appropriate reward for much guileless play, but in rare moments of fluid football, two high-price hit-men - the substitute Robbie Keane and Mark Viduka - struck with a vengeance, belatedly, to yield Leeds the points, lock, stock and two smoking barrels.
It means David O'Leary's men continue their search for the land of plenty. Six successive Premiership victories have, for the moment, placed Leeds in third position and a Uefa Cup place, at least, is assured. A possible bonus is yet to follow, with the two legs of their Champions' League semi-final, on Wednesday and the return the following Tuesday.
"Not a great game," O'Leary confessed. "But at this time of the year it's about getting maximum points. We wore them down in the end."
With Valencia liable to arrive dedicated to frustrating Leeds, that was a useful exercise. Chelsea, who prior to yesterday, had not conceded an away goal in more than six hours, could only skulk away. For the Londoners, this is the season that time forgot. For a second successive year the Champions' League has proved beyond them and, though a Uefa Cup place remains on offer, it would be poor consolation for chairman Ken Bates, whose investment in personnel has been made on the assumption that the élite European competition would be Chelsea's domain. Here, they displayed commendable adventure at times, but the former Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who received a less than soothing greeting from the home supporters, rarely escaped the attentions of Rio Ferdinand and Dominic Matteo. The Dutchman's sole goalscoring attempt amounted to one weak header and his most forceful contribution was the elbowing of Olivier Dacourt, an incident which provoked a yellow card for the former and fisticuffs involving several players.
When O'Leary described Matteo as "quietly outstanding", that was rare praise indeed, because this was a contest more notable for the non-performances of its mega-bucks men. Even Harry Kewell, attended by at least two Chelsea markers throughout, was effectively quelled in a conflict which was not made for his fabulous footwork.
It was more a game for warriors and it was Jody Morris who epitomised the mood with an elbow in the face of Dacourt. He received a caution, when consistent application of the laws demanded a dismissal, then somehow avoided that fate again when he launched himself two-footed into Batty. Fortunately for the Chelsea midfielder, the referee Steve Dunn adopted an indulgent attitude, despite cautioning five visitors and two Leeds players.
Fortunately, there were also a few placatory presences, though Dennis Wise's "cool it" gesture to an irate O'Leary, who had leapt from the dug-out to object to a decision, took some believing. What next for the Chelsea captain? An offer to become a UN peace-keeper?
In the pauses between hostilities, there were occasional first-half moments to savour; an audacious Alan Smith using both strength and adroitness to leave Marcel Desailly on the floor; Ferdinand twice going close for Leeds, Lee Bowyer just failing to convert Ian Harte's cross. With Hasselbaink's runs well patrolled and Zola subdued, Chelsea's closest attempt came from Harte, who unwittingly brought a spectacular save from his own goalkeeper when he diverted Graeme Le Saux's centre.
Leeds increased the tempo after the break, and after Carlo Cudicini had thwarted Bowyer and Viduka had driven wide, the home side claimed a penalty when Desailly handled in the area. It appeared unintentional.
Desailly was never the legend in his own lunchtime that pre-match previews might have predicted. One careless back-pass nearly allowed Viduka to profit and, after Zola had struck the post with a typical curling shot and Mario Melchiot had headed Wise's cross powerfully but straight at Nigel Martyn, he had to accept culpability for Viduka's goal.
Before then, Keane had been brought on at the expense of Kewell and Eirik Bakke had replaced Bowyer. Five minutes after the Irishman's arrival, events confirmed O'Leary's move as a master-stroke. Danny Mills' header found Bakke through the centre and his simple touch-off allowed Keane to scamper clear. He attempted to chip Cudicini, but although the goalkeeper reacted well to save, it rebounded for the Irishman who, faced with an empty net, made no mistake.
Two minutes later, Viduka added another with a thumping volley after first John Terry and then Desailly had failed to intercept Harte's long ball. Bringing his season's tally to 15, that was a ferocious reminder of his virtues after a week when he was linked with a £20m move to Real Madrid. "I thought he'd forgotten how to score goals," O'Leary remarked, determined to bring the Australian back to earth before Wednesday's visit of Valencia, fixture when Leeds must maintain theirteam ethic.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 29/04/2001.
Robbie Keane sealed his permanent transfer to Leeds United with a goal five minutes from time that helped lift David O'Leary's side back into the Champions League placings and leave Chelsea sweating on a Uefa spot.
Leeds will definitely be in Europe next season as a result of this win, but it is the top-three finish O'Leary covets. 'We made life terribly difficult for ourselves by dropping so many sloppy points at home,' the Leeds manager said. 'We aren't half giving it a go though, and if we finish third this time it will make last season's achievement look Mickey Mouse.'
The force is certainly with Leeds at the moment. This was O'Leary's 100th Premiership game in charge, and it was a scruffy, ill-tempered affair that did not entirely deserve the two goals in four minutes that turned it on its head at the end. A certain amount of sympathy was possible for Claudio Ranieri's view that a goalless draw would have been the right result. 'We feel a bit upset, because Leeds scored after our best period, when Gianfranco Zola hit a post and Mario Melchiot had a header saved,' the Chelsea manager said.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 30/04/2001.
IT was bad-tempered, often ugly and moments of delight were rare, yet the final reckoning sees Leeds once again in Europe next season and the most expensively-assembled squad in the Premiership looking on in envy.
The accumulation of 33 points from a possible 39, a sixth straight victory and the rediscovery of an indomitable spirit has propelled United to some heady heights and they are, without doubt, the best team in England by some stretch now.
The measure of their standing is that nobody wants to play them, and the height of Chelsea's ambition here was a goalless draw.
They were within a few minutes of achieving their conservative aim, but a couple of inspired late substitutions proved their undoing.
Lee Bowyer, who had the disappointment of seeing a certain headed goal denied him by a breathtaking save from Carlo Cudicini, was not at his most inspired and Harry Kewell, given no space at all in which to conjure his trickery, was labouring.
Enter Eirik Bakke and Robbie Keane, who linked nicely for the young Irishman to fire home his ninth goal in 19 appearances.
Taking the cue, Mark Viduka scored a Roy Of The Rovers special, a rising drive into the top corner from 20 yards, a couple of minutes later to send the swanky London outfit back down the M1 with their tails between their legs.
Said United manager David O'Leary: "The game was a bit too open for me. I always stress that keeping a clean sheet gives you a chance because we have talented players who can hurt opponents.
"You can't always come out at home, score three goals early doors and topple people. This was all about patience, and it brought its own rewards.
"You've got to keep your discipline and your shape. We have seen with the great Manchester United how many times they have won games in the last 10 minutes and we are learning.
"He never takes the limelight, but I thought that Dominic Matteo was quietly outstanding. He has proved a very good buy. You don't give Zola the amount of space he was afforded by Rio Ferdinand at one point and it was Matteo who took the honours at the back."
The three points ensured that United got a foothold on the all-important third spot in the Premiership and guaranteed European football next season.
Viduka had returned up front for United, who extended their unbeaten run in the Premiership to 13, after missing last week's success at West Ham with a tight hamstring.
And Chelsea paraded former United golden boy Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in a match which they had to win to keep alive their slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
In a niggling first five minutes only a Bowyer snapshot which barely troubled Cudicini featured and what was already clear was that, as always, it would be a keenly-contested affair.
Le Saux's strong burst from the left had United in trouble, and when he blasted across the face of goal Martyn had to produce some acrobatics to keep out Harte's goalbound deflection.
Martyn was again in action almost immediately, cutting out a cross from Hasselbaink, and when Wise sent Melchiot clear down the right his cross was met by Hasselbaink only for Ferdinand to get in the way of his shot.
Zola's handball gave United a free-kick opportunity in the 14th minute and Dacourt's blast from 30 yards wasn't that far over the bar.
Mills' right-wing dash raised United hopes and it took a brave challenge by Cudicini to thwart the ambitions of Viduka.
Ferdinand and Bowyer scooped half-chances over the bar as United began to show more enterprise, and when Dacourt picked out Viduka only an excellent challenge by Desailly denied him.
Ferdinand forced Cudicini into a save and at the other end Dalla Bona might have done better from the edge of the area than to shoot harmlessly wide.
Morris was lucky to escape with only a yellow card after elbowing Dacourt in the face and Chelsea were fortunate to escape with their goal intact when Kewell's blast screamed over the bar.
The half-time whistle brought to a conclusion a goalless period which had been notable more for its petulance than the quality of football.
Melchiot's slice for a corner set up United with an early second half chance and Cudicini spread himself well to keep out Bowyer's angled shot.
Smith and Viduka linked well for the big Aussie to turn and get in a shot which flashed outside the post and then Cudicini made the wonder save that kept out Bowyer's header from point blank range.
United had sound penalty claims on the hour when Desailly fell on the ball in his own box and appeared to handle, but referee Dunn waved play on.
Zola almost broke the deadlock with a curling shot which Martyn was relieved to see hit a post before going behind, then Smith blasted over the bar as United continued to be frustrated.
A suicidal backpass from Desailly across the face of his goal almost teed up Viduka, but Terry made a crucial saving tackle.
And Martyn was the hero for Leeds 13 minutes from time when he kept out Melchiot's storming close-range header.
Hasselbaink's elbows-up challenge on Dacourt provoked the melee that had long been threatened but then, five minutes from the end, United took a prized lead through the perky Keane.
Mills' header was delicately flicked through by Bakke and Keane rounded Cudicini before tucking home.
And in the 88th minute Viduka outsmarted Desailly on the turn and blasted into the top corner to wrap it up.
Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri put United's prospects of beating Valencia over two legs to reach the European Cup Final as no better than 50-50.
How he must crave even the chance.