Competition: English Premier League.
Referee: Mr D. Gallagher (Banbury).
Leeds United will never have a better chance to kill their Old Trafford hoodoo and come away with the maximum spoils. After eighty-eight minutes of pulsating football they were leading by a Mark Viduka strike and looking odds-on favourites to earn their first win at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ since 1981. If
It was enough to make any manager pull his hair out, especially if you were David O’Leary and you had seen your team totally outplay the reigning EPL champions for the majority of the second half. If you believe in rumours, O’Leary was being lined up as the natural replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford throne. The Manchester United directors watching from the stands could not have failed to be impressed.
Even as the Reds pushed forwarding search of an equaliser they were met by the resolute defence of Messrs Ferdinand, Matteo and Martyn, who gave everything to prevent the hosts from levelling matters. However, not even they could prevent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The baby-faced assassin applied the finishing touch win a superb header, in the right place at the right time, as he so often is.
From seemingly being so comfortable at one stage and certainly looking suitably on top, United almost threw it away as the Red Devils piled forward for a late, late winner. It would have been so cruel on United, who had performed so brilliantly and showed they truly deserved the tag of Premiership title contenders.
while disappointed at not winning, was delighted with the performance of his
side. “We definitely should have won the game. If you have got to be
super-critical of my players, they have got to learn because when we got the
goal we sat back and invited trouble. This is what we have to learn. We scored
at the right time and should have kept playing, but we kind of got deeper in
the box, seemed to settle for the goal and tried to hold on. When you do that
with players of their quality then you are in danger of losing the game. It
would have been very, very cruel had we lost. I am disappointed that we have
not won it because I thought
been hit by an early barrage of pressure from the impressive home team as David
Beckham curled a free-kick goalwards that Nigel Martyn saved and then saw a low strike come back off the
post. Ryan Giggs was also denied by Nigel Martyn and Nicky Butt fired way over when he should have done
better. In truth it could have been3-0 before
Mark Viduka shot into the side netting, while Harry Kewell and Robbie Keane fired over the bar before a second
half that saw
Mark Viduka’s goal came as no surprise when it finally arrived in the seventy-seventh minute. Ian Harte’s low, bouncing bomb of a cross seemed innocuous so much so that Mikael Silvestre left it to run out, but Viduka had other ideas as he stole in the fire through Fabien Barthez’s legs.
Ole-Gunnar Solksjaer jumped off the
bench to apply his expert finish and those fans from the White Rose county were sat on the edge of their seats with their hearts
in their mouths as Ruud Van Nistelrooy
was denied by a truly outstanding one-handed save from Nigel Martyn. It was quite a brilliant football match, but the
thoughts of ‘if only’ were etched across the foreheads of those
Mark Viduka fires in the United goal
David Batty salutes the United fans and joins his teammates congratulating Mark Viduka Mark Viduka celebrates his goal
The United fans acclaim Mark Viduka’s goal
Mark Vaduka was a menace to the Manchester defence: Putting pressure on Barthez, Silvestre and Brown: and on Barthez and Brown
Robbie Keane pushes David Beckham over. The referee books David Beckham and Robbie Keane
David O’Leary gives David Beckham a serve
Mark Viduka scores
Rio Ferdinand, Nigel Martyn and Dominic Matteo were resolute in defence
Robbie Keane and Harry Kewell both shot over Fabien Barthez was in goal
Gary Neville and Mikael Silvestre were the full backs Laurent Blanc and Wes Brown were in central defence
The midfield was David Beckham, Juan Sebastian Veron, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs
Paul Scholes and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were the strikers Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was the used substitute