Date: Saturday, 6th December 2003.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.

Competition: English Premier League.

Score: Leeds United 1 Chelsea 1.

Scorers: Leeds United: Pennant. Chelsea: Duff.

Attendance: 36,305.

Teams:

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.

United 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.

The 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.

Within 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.

On the 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.

Former 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.

The 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.

 

Match Action:

 

Jermaine Pennant beats William Gallas to score the first goal

 

††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††Jermaine Pennant fires in Unitedís goal and then celebrates

 

Dominic Matteo rushes to help Jermaine Pennant celebrate his goal

 

 

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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,

Stephen McPhail and Lucas Radebe. The League Table shows Chelseaís ascendancy and Unitedís perilous position

†††††††††††††††††

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Michael Duberry wins a challenge from Adrian Mutu

 

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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

 

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A happy Jermaine Pennant after scoring††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Mark Viduka in control of the ball weighing up his options

 

Players:

 

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Jermaine Pennant got the Leeds goal and Damien Duff replied for Chelsea††††††††††††† Stephen McPhail turned†††† †††Dominic Matteo††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in a tremendous display†††††††† was outstanding†††††††††††

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James Milner was outshone††††† Alan Smith worked hard in midfield†††††††††††††††† Lucas Radebe combined well with Paul Robinson and Dominic Matteo

by Jermaine Pennant

 

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Michael Duberry and Ian Harte appeared to grow in confidence†††††††††† Paul Robinson saved from Adrian Mutu†††† Mark Viduka was well shackled

 

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Carlo Cudicini was in the Chelsea goal††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††Mario Melchiot partnered Wayne Bridge at full-back

 

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John Terry and William Gallas formed the central defence†††††††††††††††† Ex-Leeds hitman, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Adrian Mutu were the strikers

 

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Claude Makelele, 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