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Copy from Football Unlimited of 07/04/2002.
It has been 41 years since Sunderland last won a league match at Elland Road, and their failure to end that ignominious record yesterday will just increase the sense of dread on Wearside about how long it may be before they get another chance. Though Derby and Ipswich must harbour the gravest concerns about accompanying Leicester into the First Division, Peter Reid's side remain in peril after losing their seventh match in the past eight on their travels.
The damage may prove to be superficial, but a turbulent season is spiralling towards a nerve-shredding finale. Next to come are Liverpool. "I'm sure we'll win that one," offered Reid, but his confidence was neither convincing nor contagious. Sunderland have managed only three wins in their past 15 games and, though this victory for Leeds was achieved with a sizeable element of good fortune, there were no grievances within the visiting camp that it had not been fully deserved.
After a freakish own-goal from Jody Craddock, Robbie Keane's late strike soothed any lingering nerves inside Elland Road, while reinvigorating Leeds's hopes of qualifying for the Uefa Cup rather than having to make do with the embarrassment of a place in the Intertoto Cup. "No one wants to play in the Intertoto but the people who employ me tell me I have to," O'Leary revealed.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 08/04/2002.
NO-ONE at Leeds United wants to see their summer break cut short by the need to play in the Intertoto Cup and the side took their first step yesterday to ensure it isn't.
After a miserable Easter, with defeats against Manchester United and Tottenham, Leeds were in danger of throwing away their chance of European qualification.
They had slipped to sixth and the prospect of entering the Intertoto Cup to get in through the back door was fast becoming a possibility.
That competition starts in July so Leeds' players were facing the bleak prospect of an early return to action and the cancellation of those summer holidays.
A third straight Premiership defeat would have been catastrophic. However, United boss David O'Leary had urged his players to win their remaining five fixtures and they promptly delivered the first installment.
By no means was it a vintage Leeds performance, but the 2-0 victory has got them back on track and the coveted fifth spot is still just three points away.
The last time Sunderland won at Elland Road in league action was in 1961, so the omens were good for United going into the match.
And with their visitors holding the worst away goal-scoring record in the Premiership they have managed to find the net just nine times this season on their travels Leeds' defence, so heavily criticised over the Easter weekend, could be sure to have a less stressful afternoon.
That they did and Jon Woodgate returned to the sort of form which has made his omission from the England reckoning so controversial.
The central defender was back to his commanding best, effortlessly negating the threat of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips so much so that the Sunderland side could not even manage an effort on target throughout the fixture.
Lee Bowyer, another player who has seen his form dip in recent weeks, also reminded Leeds fans of what he can really do with an all-action display in the heart of midfield.
United got off to a great start and David Batty was the unlikely source of the first chance when he fired a drive straight at Thomas Sorensen on three minutes but the Sunderland keeper was less fortunate soon after.
Bowyer dispossessed Phillips just inside the Sunderland half and fed Alan Smith down the right flank.
He knocked past left-back George McCartney before delivering a teasing early cross.
Mark Viduka applied the pressure and Sunderland centre-half Jody Craddock buckled underneath it, stretching out to try and intercept but only managing to lob his own keeper from 16 yards. Eight minutes had passed and Leeds had the early breakthrough.
Quinn served a warning that it would not be one-way traffic, though, when he cleverly chested down a cross and beat off the challenge of Danny Mills.
However, the big Irishman stumbled with just Nigel Martyn to beat and the chance was gone.
Leeds then created and missed a host of chances themselves, with Robbie Fowler having the opportunity to bag a first-half hat-trick.
Ian Harte's ball down the left found Bowyer running into space. He slotted Fowler through with a clever first-time pass but McCartney just did enough to put Leeds' top scorer off and the shot was tame.
The pair combined again soon after as Bowyer once more ventured down the left. He got to the byline and his cross was only half-cleared, falling to Fowler who hit a rising left-foot shot from 16 yards which just went over.
Then Bowyer popped up on the other side, moving onto Viduka's neat pass to hit a shot from just inside the area. It was going off target but Fowler, lurking at the back post, managed to get a toe to it. However, he failed to divert it goalwards.
At the other end Phillips had a single snap-shot on 30 minutes Sunderland's first effort on goal.
Cameroon international Patrick Mboma replaced Phillips, who has been struggling with a stomach injury recently, at half-time and Sunderland did apply more pressure after the restart. However, Leeds still created the chances.
Bowyer was proving a constant menace and he went close on a couple of occasions. He also put Smith clear but the youngster was well challenged by McCartney just as the England striker lined up a shot.
A towering cross from the Sunderland left-back at the other end nearly forced an equaliser. Mboma challenged at the back post but Harte bravely headed away with Martyn struggling to cover.
O'Leary introduced Robbie Keane on the hour mark and the Irishman once again looked sharp.
After falling foul of Sunderland's offside trap on a couple of occasions, he finally broke to have a clear run on goal as he chased a lofted pass down the middle. Sorensen raced out from his area, Keane beat him to the ball but was forced out wide and Joachim Bjorklund recovered to block his shot.
Soon after, some wonderful play by Viduka down the right saw the Aussie pull back to Bowyer, who shot first time from just inside the box. Sorensen got down well to deny the midfielder.
Leeds seemed in control but then, with just nine minutes to go, Gavin McCann found Mbomba, who eluded his markers in the middle and found himself with just Martyn to beat from 16 yards.
However, the substitute struck a left-footed shot which went just over the bar and Leeds were let off.
Two minutes later United made sure they would not have to suffer any more near misses when Keane netted his first Premiership goal since September to kill the game.
Viduka was the provider, slipping Keane through on the edge of the box, and the substitute made no mistake by cooly slotting to the right of Sorensen.