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Leeds United

Premier League
Game 03: Wednesday 28 August 2002

Leeds United 0 - 1 Sunderland
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
Crowd: 39929
Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)
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Match Facts
Leeds United Team Sunderland
Paul Robinson   Thomas Sørensen
Danny Mills   Stephen Wright
Ian Harte   Michael Gray
Dominic Matteo   Phil Babb
Lucas Radebe   Joachim Björklund
Subbed - 54 minutes Eirik Bakke   Paul Thirlwell
Booked - 66 minutes Lee Bowyer   Jason McAteer Goal - 46 minutes
Subbed - 54 minutes Nick Barmby   Matt Piper Subbed - 75 minutes
Harry Kewell   Claudio Reyna
Alan Smith   Thomas Butler
Mark Viduka   Kevin Phillips Subbed - 77 minutes
Nigel Martyn   Jürgen Macho
Gary Kelly   Julio Arca Sub - 75 minutes
Jonathan Woodgate   George McCartney
Sub - 54 minutes Booked - 74 minutes Olivier Dacourt   Kevin Kyle Sub - 77 minutes
Sub - 54 minutes Robbie Keane   Niall Quinn
Match Reports
Nick Allen Sunderland
BBC Sunderland stun Leeds
The Guardian McAteer picks Leeds pocket
The Independent McAteer goal frustrates Leeds and relieves Reid Leeds shocked by McAteer magic
The Sporting Life Leeds United 0 - 1 Sunderland
The Electronic Telegraph McAteer strike brings relief to beleaguered Reid
The Times McAteer gives Leeds food for thought
Yorkshire Evening Post Defensive barrier proves too tough to breach in night of real frustration

The Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph now seem to require registration to view articles on their sites, with the Times and Sunday Times charging readers outside the UK. The Times/Sunday Times has also moved some of the older articles into an archive which requires separate registration and requires you to pay to access the content. The Independent now charges for access to articles more than a week old.

Sunderland - Nick Allen

A voice overheard on leaving the ground "We're Tottenham... 10 years ago... bloody clueless ... loads a fancy passing and no end product" - well its a point of view.

Its easy to blame Bakke - and he was woeful, and his substitution was warranted - but as someone has pointed out the passing of several other culprits was awful. I'm not easy with Bakke's role. I don't think he is and I don't think that the team is. While we now have all sorts of attacking options, we are hollow in the middle of the park. A team with a strong midfield will tear us apart while a team with 5 men in the middle (Sunderland) will simply stifle us - and then hope to pick us off with a quick raid like yesterday. Their goal came from Kewell losing the ball in the midfield and then no-one defending the ball as it was brought forward - there was a massive hole where Lucas/Matteo should have been.

What was really worrying was the fact that we seemed to have hours of possession without ever doing anything more than passing back and forth across the field going to the byline... not crossing it and coming back up field and across to the other wing again...endlessly. Sunderland's defence was solid but surely not impenetratable. Apart from a few goalmouth scrambles we didn't get anywhere near scoring - no clear cut chances for about 40 minutes of pressure in the second half is a sad reflection on the lack of cutting edge. Kewell was the only player who stood out as having the class and the will to do something about the situation.

Deadballs were occasionally OK, but mainly a disgrace. If Woodgate is fit lets have him in alongside Lucas and have Captain Dom at left back. Barmby was invisible, Bowyer was a dickhead getting himself booked for that ugly revenge tackle on some player after the Viduka "penalty"... and did nothing else of note all game. So in reality we had 3 midfield players none of whom made a worthwhile contribution all game - this led to Smith and Viduka especially, but Harry and Keane as well coming ever deeper to try and get the ball... with nobody being up there to receive it. All sadly predictable.

For my money Dacourt and Batty are much better midfield players than Bakke at the moment - he may develop over time, he may not - he certainly won't get any better being left to flounder in the kind of set up he's facing right now. But as with Smith he is playing out of position.

When all said and done beating 2 promoted teams does not make us potential champions any more than a soft defeat at home to a determined, organised but limited Sunderland makes us doomed to a crap season...

TV was out thought - let's hope it doesn't happen too often. But looking at a potential positive let's hope that his immediate withdrawal of Barmby and Bakke will mean that he has realised that this is a limited and weak line up.

McAteer picks Leeds pocket - Dominic Fifield

Copy from Football Unlimited of 29/08/2002.

As the boos echoed round the emptying arena, Peter Reid must have felt that familiar sinking feeling. For once, though, he could greet the chorus with a smile and even a triumphant punch of the air.

Unlikely victory here did much to alleviate the doom and gloom that has engulfed that pocket of the north-east since the end of last season. Sunderland - solid, committed and rewarded - had not won here in 41 years but, courtesy or Jason McAteer's simple goal 28 seconds after the break, life looks rosier on Wearside this morning.

"I don't know whether this will relax the fans and help things calm down but we can hope," said the visitors' manager. "Ask me again after we've played Manchester United on Saturday but this was a great result. The players got what they deserved." So, too, did Reid. Having plucked an impressive point from Blackburn on the opening day, he chose to flood midfield once again. Leeds had scored in every home game against Sunderland since 1930 and knew a win would hoist them back to the top two of the table, but they rarely threatened to break down obstinate opponents. "Tactically we got it right," added Reid. "It's not a negative system but it helps you frustrate teams away from home. I knew we would be difficult to beat." It was McAteer, lambasted by disgruntled home fans at the Stadium of Light at the weekend, who capped the gritty display with the glory. Thomas Butler wriggled unchallenged down the left channel from the restart with his cross arcing exquisitely over Dominic Matteo. Kevin Phillips nodded down into the six- yard box and the Irish midfielder, sprinting beyond Lucas Radebe, eased the ball past Paul Robinson.

Read the rest...

Defensive barrier proves too tough to breach in night of real frustration - Matt Reeder

Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 29/08/2002.

THE saying suggests that lightning will never strike twice, yet Sunderland proved that theory to be seriously flawed.

Last season it was Peter Reid's side who toppled Leeds United's unbeaten start to the season with a 2-0 success at the Stadium of Light. That feat was repeated, somewhat surprisingly, with a 1-0 defeat at Elland Road last night.

Jason McAteer's goal was enough to end Terry Venables' 100 per cent start to the new season and not only give the visitors their first victory of the campaign but their first in this particular corner of Yorkshire for more than 60 years.

On paper this should have been another easy three points with plenty of goals thrown in for a United side still bubbling under the new leadership of Venables.

In reality, however, it proved to be a tough and frustrating examination of the new-look United; a test which they failed completely and left Venables with some serious thinking to do before the trip to Birmingham on Saturday.

His chief concern will surely be why his players, so full of zest and brimming with quality one minute, can all of a sudden look lifeless and disinterested the next.

As with the previous two matches in the campaign, United started poorly with little cohesion and certainly none of the flair which eventually materialised against both West Brom and Manchester City.

Neither of those opponents took advantage of United's stuttering start, however Sunderland are more streetwise in the ways of the Premiership and they knew just how to make the most of their opportunity.

When the improvement did finally come from United it was too late. Sunderland had already shut up shop and despite some serious pressure and a definite penalty appeal being turned down, there was no way back.

Ultimately they paid for a poor first-half display. The passing was not crisp or sharp enough, the movement stilted and the creativity almost non- existent.

It was a blessing, then, that Sunderland were just as poor in an opening 45 minutes which mustered barely a shot on target at either end.

Try as they might, there was no spark and little invention ? something you could expect from a side under pressure and fighting to save their manager's job like Sunderland, but from Leeds? The crowd and Venables expect better.

Reid's side were under such little pressure that they were able to sit back and take a good look at the match. Only after the break did they decide that it was time to strike.

Arriving at Elland Road with the sole intention of defending in numbers and hoping to catch United on the break, they played their game-plan to a tee.

Kevin Phillips was the only man playing up front as Reid packed his midfield with five men and operated a defensive line of 10 in total.

Their only effort in the opening half had come from an error by Eirik Bakke, who had been caught in possession by American Claudio Reyna and was grateful to see goalkeeper Paul Robinson make a decent block with his legs.

However, when Harry Kewell made the same mistake with just 28 seconds gone of the second half, Sunderland made sure they capitalised.

The Aussie striker gave the ball away to winger Thomas Butler on the left, his deep cross was nodded down by Phillips and Irish international McAteer was unmarked to prod the ball past Robinson from six yards out.

Goal scored, the visitors retreated back into their shell and waited for the expected Leeds onslaught.

Just as on Saturday against West Brom, Venables was quick to change his system as he saw the three-man midfield not quite living up to his expectations against the packed Sunderland middle order.

On came Olivier Dacourt for Bakke and Robbie Keane for Nicky Barmby. The switch to 4-4-2 gave United more width and more bodies across the middle, while also livening things up.

Keane, playing in perhaps his last match for United, started with purpose and vivacity as he ran at the Sunderland defence with every opportunity put to him.

Unfortunately, not even he could find the magic to break down the stubborn red and white back line.

When Viduka saw a header cleared off the line by Matthew Piper, Keane just missed the rebound before Alan Smith's follow-up was deflected narrowly over.

When the second corner was floated in, Viduka again made contact but this time he was denied by goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.

Ian Harte fired a free-kick just wide of the target and Dacourt had a low effort easily saved by Sunderland's Danish international keeper.

Viduka should have had a penalty when he was bundled over by defender Michael Gray, and Lee Bowyer poked the ball wide of the target after a great knock-down by the big Australian striker.

Kewell flashed a volley wide right at the end and try as they might Leeds could not break through.

They had paid for their slow first-half display when what had been required was a lively, bright opening to put the visitors under pressure.

For Venables this match was further proof, if any were required, that more work must be done on the training field before we can expect to see HIS United performing week-in, week-out how he wants them.

If the players cannot heed his orders then expect that lightning to bring with it the odd storm cloud to gather over the flimsy optimism which, for the time being, still fills Elland Road.

The report used to be available online here.

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