Competition: English Premier League.
Referee: Mr G. Barber (Tring, Hertfordshire).
Chelsea arrived at Elland
Road comfortably in second place and only four points adrift from leaders
Arsenal expecting to pick up three easy points from a team that had not won at
home in months and beset by injuries and lack of form, but there was seasonal
cheer in abundance at Elland Road as Leeds cranked
their season into life with their first home win since September. And the
United faithful left the ground with the added boost that, coupled with three
precious league points, they now had a new hero to worship after another
amazing display by teenage star James Milner. The sixteen year-old scored a
stunning goal in first-half injury time, his first at
Milner, who would see his £80-per-week wage rise considerably as he was due to put pen to paper on a new contract later in that week, was given a heroís welcome when he replaced Harry Kewell after thirty-one minutes and would be set to receive the same adoration only afforded to home-grown talent. Terry Venables was keen to keep Milnerís profile as low as possible, but if the youngster keeps scoring goals like he did in this game, then the United boss will have his work cut out. It would be easy to get carried away by the talented youngster, but even when Milner did his warm-up on the touchline there was a sense of anticipation about the prospective arrival of the new kid on the block.
In typical fashion he did not disappoint. He
had been on the pitch only fifteen minutes when he seized upon an Eirik Bakke flick, left Marcel Desailly on his backside and unleashed a stunning effort
beyond the reach of Ed de Goey in the
The commitment on show was first class and
United headed towards the New Yearís Day showdown with Birmingham City having
picked up ten points from twelve and looked like a team with renewed
confidence. There were no shirkers in the side against
The signing of the Australian captain raised a
few eyebrows in the summer but, with six games under his belt, it looked as though
he might be the answer to solving Unitedís problem holding role in midfield.
Paul Okonís versatility gave
The visitors did have their moments, they
looked sharp in the opening twenty minutes, but
This was how most newspapers saw the United first goal. But on closer inspection it was found that, while, from a front on view of the incident, Woodgate's trajectory had all the looks of making contact with the ball, when viewed from the behind the goal cameras, Woodgate did not make any initial connection with the ball. It certainly showed the contact was with the head of Gallas and the ball was propelled towards the goal, and, while it may have touched Woodgate fleetingly, it was the contact with the head of Gallas that propelled it beyond the reach of De Goey.
The goal was just the boost United needed and, shortly after the arrival of James Milner in place of the injured Harry Kewell, who suffered a dead leg, Venablesí side doubled their advantage. Mark Viduka and Eirik Bakke were both involved in the build up before James Milner, playing in an unfamiliar role on the left, turned Marcel Desailly inside out and rifled home from distance to make it 2-0. It was a superb strike and was a fitting match clincher.
Leeds were even able to relax a bit as the clock wound down and Terry Venables could afford himself a wry smile as the home drought came to an end in some style. The manager still insisted no corner had yet been turned, but after picking up ten points out of twelve United could pat themselves on the back for finally kick-starting their season.
Jonathan Woodgate heads the opening "goal"††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††and jumps for joy
Jonathan Woodgate wheels away after "scoring"††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† and is mobbed by Alan Smith and Paul Okon
James Milner gets in his shot for the second goal
Albert Ferrer can only watch as James Milner shoots
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† James Milner in classic pose
James Milner turns after scoring††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††and jumps for joy
James Milner disappears under the combined weight of Alan Smith Gary Kelly and Jonathan Woodgate
††† James Milner gets a pat on the head from Alan Smith
James Milner salutes the fans
Jonathan Woodgate reflects
Alan Smith slides in on Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink
Mark Viduka takes on the Chelsea defence, goes close with a flying header and then battles in the air with Mario Stanic and Marcel Desailly
†Harry Kewell avoids Frank Lampard††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Frank Lampard dispossesses Harry Kewell
Albert Ferrer and Alan Smith locked in battle†††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Eirik Bakke chases Enrique De Lucas
Jonathan Woodgate, via William Gallas, and James Milner got the goals for Leeds††††††††† ††††††Harry Kewell was injured after half-an-hour
††††††† Unsung heroes Eirik Bakke, Paul Okon and Gary Kelly played vital parts in the win†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Alan Smith flitted between
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††attack and midfield
Jason Wilcox provided the cross†††† Mark Viduka was involved in the second goal ††††††††††††††††Paul Robinson was untroubled
for the first goal
Ed De Goey was in the
William Gallas† and Marcel Desailly formed the central defence†††††††††††††† Enrique De Lucas and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink were used substitutes
Jesper Gronkjaer, future Leeds player Jody Morris, Frank Lampard and Mario Stanic started in midfield for Chelsea
Gianfranci Zola and Eidur Gudjohnsen were the strikers
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Lenny Pidgeley, Celestine Babayaro and John Terry were the unused substitutes