Australian striker Mark Viduka wrote himself indelibly into the
Elland Road folklore at the start of November 2000,with an amazing
one man destruction of a powerful Liverpool team, on the way to
an end of season haul of three major trophies under the leadership
of French manager Gerard Houllier.
The form of the two old rivals was in stark contrast as they
approached the clash - Liverpool were sitting comfortably in third
spot, while Leeds' stuttering form and long injury list had left
them 10th. Of the five matches before the game, Liverpool had
won the lot and Leeds none.
Neither did recent history between the two sides offer any crumbs
of comfort. Alan Smith's goal on his debut and two from Jimmy
Floyd Hasselbaink secured an unexpected win at Anfield in November
1998, but that was the only win Leeds had achieved over the Reds
in the previous 11 encounters and one had to go back to the day
of Tony Yeboah's magnificent volley in August 1995 to find Leeds'
previous home victory.
David O'Leary had a complete team absent injured, the casualties
including Nigel Martyn, Lucas Radebe, Harry Kewell, Danny Mills,
Michael Duberry and Michael Bridges. O'Leary's options at the
centre of defence were particularly scant and he switched former
Anfield player Dominic Matteo to the back to partner Jonathan
back to top
Matteo's withdrawal from midfield meant a rare outing for Aussie
Jacob Burns, while Olivier Dacourt and Lee Bowyer returned to
bolster the side. Viduka was playing up front alongside Alan Smith,
and had finally started winning round a critical Elland Road crowd
after a slow start since moving from Celtic.
Leeds' injury list had been daunting all season and on this occasion
O'Leary was only able to muster four fit subs. His Anfield counterpart
was faced with an embarrassment of riches, however, and could
afford to demote England forward Robbie Fowler to the bench, and
he started with just £11m forward Emile Heskey up front,
preferring to swamp midfield with five men, including former Elland
Road favourite Gary McAllister. Surely, Leeds would be seen off
by a superb looking Mersey combination in a match which kicked
off at lunchtime in order to accommodate Sky's live TV coverage.
The early start looked to have caught Leeds unprepared and midway
through the first half, Liverpool were odds-on to extend their
hoodoo over the Elland Road side. In the second minute Patrik
Berger swung in a left-footed
free-kick from the right and Hyypia rose unchallenged to plant
a firm header into the far corner. Markers were conspicuous by
their absence, lessons remained unlearnt.
That wasn't the end of the defensive problems and after 17 minutes
Jonathon Woodgate limped off, to be replaced by the inexperienced
New Zealander Danny Hay. Before the defence could regroup, McAllister
threw over a free kick from the left and the German defender,
Christian Ziege, capitalised on the chance from the edge of the
six yard box. His calmly taken header flashed past young keeper
Paul Robinson to double the Reds' advantage.
With Woodgate gone and Matteo struggling to exert any control
over the rampant Heskey, Liverpool looked as though they would
score with every forward move, while Bowyer's truculence was stretching
the patience of referee David Elleray. Booked for a late tackle,
Bowyer caught Heskey just below the knee with his studs and, on
another day, might have seen red.
Alan Smith raised flagging Yorkshire spirits with a flashing
header, narrowly wide, and Leeds forced their way back into the
game after 25 minutes when the England hopeful was back again,
persistent as a wasp in chasing Ziege down the right. He shut
down the German and managed to block a weak clearance, leaving
the ball careering invitingly towards Viduka in the area. He was
cool and calculating as he flicked the ball over an onrushing
Westerveld and in at the left hand post to put Leeds back in the
back to top
Leeds gained heart, but only a great save by Paul Robinson from
Dietmar Hamann and Kelly's head, intercepting Heskey's goalbound
header, saved the home side from heavier punishment.
Leeds had a good spell as the first half drew to a close and
Dacourt shot fiercely from around 35 yards to call the best out
of Westerveld. The ever confrontational Smith continued to niggle
at the Liverpool defenders and a spat with Ziege led to the German
picking up a yellow card. Bowyer
took the free kick, only to see his shot blocked by Berger, who
had not retreated the required distance. He followed Ziege into
David Elleray's notebook and the ref decided that the retaken
kick should be taken from ten yards on because of the offence.
This was now within Ian Harte territory and he did not disappoint,
although McAllister managed to deflect a goal bound effort against
the foot of his own post.
After the interval, it took Leeds only a couple of minutes to
get onto level terms. Full back Gary Kelly stormed forward on
the right flank to get into the danger area. The Irishman put
over a measured cross which invited a deadly header from Viduka
at the near post and Westerveld could do nothing about it.
Smith should have put Leeds ahead almost immediately but miscued
horribly in front of an open goal, enabling Jamie Carragher to
clear. Reprieved, Liverpool reasserted themselves, as Berger's
cross was headed on by Markus Babbel but Kelly blocked his effort.
The Liverpool revival saw them start to dominate proceedings
again and a period of sustained pressure led to another goal after
61 minutes. Hamann managed to free Berger on the left wing and
the Czech's cross allowed his countryman, Smicer, to slip home,
left footed from 10 yards to leave Leeds once more in arrears.
Surprisingly, however, far from wilting, Leeds weathered the
storm and struck back with venom and menace. The all action Bowyer
managed to work an opening, but saw his 20 yard lob clear the
Houllier took the opportunity to revive flagging fortunes and
sent Fowler and Steven Gerrard on for Danny Murphy and McAllister,
but the move backfired. The stage was set, enter the Aussie for
a storming last twenty minutes.
back to top
Viduka brought the scores level again after 73 minutes with a
goal that may not be bettered all season. Dacourt had again got
in a goalbound effort which Ziege managed to block, but managed
to feed the rebound back in to the striker on the right. He spun
superbly to wrongfoot a stranded Liverpool defence with a classic
move from quick and agile feet, then beat Westerveld coolly with
a well directed drive to complete a sublime hat trick. It was
a gem reminiscent of Cantona in his pomp.
He was not finished yet, however, and three minutes later added
a fourth goal. There were suspicions of offside against both Viduka
and Smith, but the Aussie didn't wait to see what happened and
clipped the ball over the hapless Westerveld to ease Leeds into
the lead for the first time that day.
Liverpool were stung into a last effort, and frenziedly fought
for an unlikely equaliser. All they got was frustrated and bookings
for Babbel and Gerrard as
Leeds stonewalled some desperate efforts.
That last ten minutes saw Dacourt reduced to the level of passenger,
but he refused to give way and exemplified some splendid resistence
at the death to confirm one of the most outstanding and memorable
of triumphs in recent seasons for this splendid Leeds side. They
combined marvellously well as a unit to outmanoeuvre powerful
opponents and nick three precious points against all the odds.
back to top
But the day belonged to their superb No 9. It was the first time
a Leeds player had bagged four goals in a game since Allan Clarke
against Burnley in 1971. But equally important, it gave Leeds
a victory over one of their greatest rivals for a place in Europe.
Leeds manager David O'Leary was quick to praise his summer signing
from Celtic: "Mark's goals were superb. For £6m he is proving
to be a real bargain. In Viduka and Smith we have two strikers
who work really hard and that typifies this club which has a big
heart and a great bunch of people."
Acting skipper Gary Kelly was delighted with the result and also
beamed over the performance of the Leeds number nine: "It was
a great result and shows the character of the lads here at Leeds.
Liverpool are a top class side and it is a big achievement to
get a result against them, especially with so many of our squad
out injured. Mark's goals were brilliant. He must take all the
credit, but don't forget the work rate of Alan Smith. This will
boost Mark's confidence no end and that's good news for him and
good news for Leeds United."
Viduka himself had the last word as he looked forward to the
crunch Champions League tie against Milan on Wednesday: "I got
a couple of hat-tricks for Celtic but this is the first time I
have scored four in a game at this level. I am getting fitter
and stronger in every game, but there is still more to come from
me when I fine tune all the aspects of my game. This was just
one of those games when everything went for me. Hopefully there
will be more to come starting in the San Siro on Wednesday. Mind
you I would settle for just the one goal there if it is the one
that gets us the win or the draw we need to get through to the
Not that David O'Leary was too bothered by the future at lunchtime.
At the end, he bounded on to the pitch to enfold Viduka in a bear
hug, shook hands with anyone in range and bounced through his
press conference as if frightened that someone would tap him on
the shoulder and wake him up. When he contemplates his diminishing
defensive options for midweek against Andrei Shevchenko, the most
lethal striker on the continent, the smile might wear thin but,
for the moment, his side are surviving in the Premier League on
"At 2-0 down, I didn't think I'd be talking like this but with
Viduka and Alan Smith, you've always got a chance to score goals,"
the Leeds manager said, making a mental note to add the Liverpool
defence to his Christmas card list. But it was not all Liverpool's
incompetence. Viduka's goals varied from the merely efficient
to the breathtakingly clinical, each one of them defying the clumsiness
of some of his work and mocking the derision heaped upon him by
some Leeds fans earlier in the season. The Olympics had revived
the Australian, whose record of no goals in five games before
Sydney and 10 in eight since, speaks volumes for the healing powers
of home life. "Superb goals," O'Leary beamed, with a far away
and twinkling look in his Irish eyes.
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