Date: Saturday, 6th December 2003.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
English Premier League.
United 1 Chelsea 1.
United: Pennant. Chelsea: Duff.
Leeds United: Robinson; Kelly, Radebe, Duberry, Harte; Pennant, Matteo, McPhail (Domi), Milner (Johnson);
Smith, Viduka. Unused Subs: Morris, Bridges, Carson.
Chelsea: Cudicini; Melchiot, Terry, Gallas, Bridge; Makele, Lampard, Cole (Crespo), Duff; Hasselbaink (Gronkjaer), Mutu.Unused Subs: Desailly, Geremi, Sullivan.
Referee: Mr M. Dean (Heswall, Wirral).
Chelsea are lucky
not to be beaten. The paupers stunned the princes at Elland Road that Saturday as Leeds United upped
the ante in their fight against relegation. Cash-rich Chelsea provided United's
toughest test yet, but Eddie Gray's men proved they were capable of punching
above their weight and were unfortunate not to win the game. It was another
battling performance and it was more than enough to send the Kings Road millionaires back to the drawing
board in their quest for the title. Since Eddie Gray's arrival in the
managerial hot-seat United had looked a tougher proposition and the brittle
defending of earlier months now looked like a thing of the past.
looked resolute at the back and, with an extra man in the middle of the park,
they were now winning battles that they would have otherwise lost. That
Saturday was a real David and Goliath contest with the visitors boasting over
£100m worth of talent, and that was without adding in their costly substitutesí
bench. It looked like an uneven contest on paper and you had to say that had it
been a boxing match it was unlikely two such opponents would have been allowed
to have set foot inside the same ring. The odds were firmly stacked in favour of a Chelsea side that had lost just once in the
Premiership that season and had not conceded a goal since Notts County had the cheek to score in a Carling
Cup tie in October.
Londoners had gone top after beating Manchester United the previous weekend and
rock-bottom Leeds were viewed simply as small fry
standing in the way of another easy three points. What Claudio Ranieri and his sugar daddy, Roman Ambramovich,
had not banked on was the new attitude running through Elland Road where you roll your sleeves up and
fight for what you want.
minutes of the game kicking off, returning midfielder Stephen McPhail left his mark on Claude Makelele
and Chelsea soon realised Leeds were not going to be
an easy touch. Stephen McPhail went on to turn in a
tremendous display. It was the Irishman's first start for twelve months, yet he
rolled the clock back further than that. After being bashed from pillar to post
by David O'Leary and Terry Venables, Stephen McPhail now had a Manager who believed in his ability and
he turned in a great shift. The loan spell at Nottingham Forest had helped, but his work-rate and
distribution was reminiscent of when he first appeared on the scene some six
years previous. He worked well alongside the outstanding Dominic Matteo. The skipper and Alan Smith were all over the place
and were the two key figures in Leeds winning the midfield battle.
flanks it was Jermaine Pennant's turn to outshine
teen star James Milner. Pennant gave England international Wayne Bridge a torrid afternoon and was United's biggest threat. Pennant's first touch was good
and, after impressing at Charlton the previous weekend, he looked like a player
who was brimming with confidence at that moment and was a real danger in that
form. Michael Duberry and Ian Harte
were two more players who appeared to be growing in confidence. The duo were often given a rough ride by some, but they were top
drawer on Saturday. Ian Harte was another beneficiary
of the new system and looked more at ease. His distribution was good and he was
rarely threatened at the back. Michael Duberry was
also looking more relaxed and he read the game well. He would be the first to
admit he was not the most graceful defender in the world, but he worked with
the minimum of fuss and, aside from one late rick, he
led from the back against his old club.
United star Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, yet to score
against his old team-mates, was expected to test Michael Duberry
and Lucas Radebe to the full, yet he made little
impression early on as Leeds
rolled their sleeves up again. And it took just eighteen minutes for United to
stamp their mark on the contest when Jermaine Pennant
scored a goal to cherish. Claude Makelele lost
possession in his own half and the Arsenal star, the only loan player to start
the previous two games, left John Terry and William Gallas
chasing his shadow before tucking the ball home.
It was an
astonishing six hundred and fifty-seven minutes since Chelsea's defence
had last been breached, Leeds
had conceded nineteen goals in that time, and Jermaine
Pennant's strike was no more than United deserved. While the cocky visiting
fans suddenly stopped counting their wads and mowing their meadows, the home
fans greeted the goal with a mixture of delight and amazement. From there, Leeds grew in confidence. Stephen McPhail almost made it 2-0 with a rasping effort from the
edge of the box while Mark Viduka, who was well
shackled throughout, weaved his way through the defence
but Carlo Cudicini was equal to the shot. Chelsea were quite literally being frozen
out and, for a team that was amongst the favourites
to win the Premiership, looked amazingly devoid of ideas.
half-time introduction of Hernan Crespo
did give the visitors more purpose, although chances were few and far between.
Paul Robinson, Lucas Radebe and Dominic Matteo combined well with a tremendous triple block to deny
the visitors and it looked like United were on their way to an unthinkable
victory. However, a team boasting Chelsea's quality cannot be written off and
when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink lost his marker and
after Paul Robinson had initially denied Adrian Mutu,
Damien Duff was on hand to slam home the rebound. The goal had more than a
touch of good fortune about it and it said more about Leeds than it did about
Chelsea when you realised they did not have another
good chance to win the game. United were dogged and stuck to their task. The
final whistle prompted scenes of jubilation and the revival was now well and
truly underway. With games against Fulham and Manchester City coming up, Leeds could be confident of picking up
more points before the festive relegation battles with Aston Villa and Wolves.
Jermaine Pennant beats William Gallas to score the
††††††††††††††††Jermaine Pennant fires in Unitedís
goal and then celebrates
Dominic Matteo rushes
to help Jermaine Pennant celebrate his goal
Damien Duff equalized††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Damien Duff tackles back on Mark Viduka
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
fails to beat the United wall of Michael Duberry,
Mark Viduka, Ian Harte,
Alan Smith, Dominic Matteo,
and Lucas Radebe. The League Table shows Chelseaís ascendancy and Unitedís perilous position
Michael Duberry wins
a challenge from Adrian Mutu
Alan Smith gets in a shot and then tries to
hold off Claude Makelele††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Trevor Birch was aiding United off the pitch
Michael Duberry leaps
to head clear from Adrian Mutu†††††††††††††††††††††††††† Stephen McPhail shows his ball skills watched by Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink
A happy Jermaine
Pennant after scoring††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Mark
Viduka in control of the ball weighing up his options
Jermaine Pennant got the Leeds goal and Damien Duff replied for Chelsea††††††††††††† Stephen McPhail
turned†††† †††Dominic Matteo††††††††††††
in a tremendous display†††††††† was outstanding†††††††††††
James Milner was outshone††††† Alan Smith worked hard in midfield†††††††††††††††† Lucas Radebe
combined well with Paul Robinson and Dominic Matteo
by Jermaine Pennant
Michael Duberry and
Ian Harte appeared to grow in confidence†††††††††† Paul Robinson saved from Adrian Mutu†††† Mark Viduka was
Carlo Cudicini was in
the Chelsea goal††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††Mario
Melchiot partnered Wayne Bridge at full-back
John Terry and William Gallas
formed the central defence†††††††††††††††† Ex-Leeds hitman, Jimmy-Floyd
Hasselbaink and Adrian Mutu were the strikers
Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Damien Duff started in
midfield for Chelsea
Hernan Crespo and Jesper Gronkjaer came on as substitutes
Future United custodian, Neil Sullivan, Geremi and Marcel Desailly were
the unused substitutes