Leeds 0 Manchester Utd 1
Leeds United 0 Manchester United 1, Elland Road, English Premier League, October 18, 2003. Manchester United beat Leeds United 1-0 at Elland Road through a goal from Roy Keane with nine minutes left. Five men, four of them Leeds players, were yellow carded in a bad-tempered match which was watched by a sell-out crowd of more than 40,000 people.
The Mancunians had overcome Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Charlton Athletic, Leicester City, and Birmingham City, drawn with Arsenal, and lost against Southampton so far in the 2003-04 campaign, whereas Leeds United had beaten Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers, drawn to Newcastle United and Southampton, and been defeated by Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Birmingham City, and Everton. The high-profile Premiership fixture between Peter Reid´s men and The Red Devils at Elland Road in October 2003 no doubt lived up to its billing as a tough battle with five bookings and a series of violent challenges. During a frenetic afternoon in Leeds, Jermaine Pennant, David Batty, Alan Smith, and Seth Johnson all received yellow coloured cards for the home side following outrageous tackles, while Cristiano Ronaldo was booked for the visitors from Manchester after taking a Francis Lee dive in the area. The West Yorkshire club had managed to beat Manchester United 1–0 courtesy of a headed goal midway through the second half by Australian international winger Harry Kewell in the corresponding meeting the previous season, but The Whites found the opposition a lot harder to break this time around. Ex-Leeds defender Rio Ferdinand made his presence felt throughout the ninety minutes of action, and so did Old Trafford captain Roy Keane who not only led his team to victory, but also scored the winning and only goal of the game.
Defending Premier League Champions Manchester United, who had to make do without Welsh international Ryan Giggs because of illness, dominated proceedings from the beginning and Ruud van Nistelrooy had a great opportunity to score within the first minute, but the Dutch goal plunderer failed to control the ball properly. Following five minutes of intensive play, Cristiano Ronaldo appealed for a spot-kick after the £12 million summer signing from Sporting Clube de Portugal had been brought to the ground inside the penalty box by Leeds right fullback Gary Kelly, but match official Graham Poll decided to take no action at all. Then, only nine minutes later in the contest, Ronaldo was on the receiving end of a yellow card from Poll for Thespian activities inside the eighteen-yard area, and with the temperature rising on the field, Elland Road midfield hardman David Batty was rightfully booked for an unnecessary challenge on the Portuguese international five minutes before the half-time break. The Madeiran born opportunist delivered the ensuing free-kick himself and found Van Nistelrooy who produced a powerful header, but the ball went wide of the left upright.
In the second period, Ronaldo nearly provided Manchester United with the lead three minutes past the hour mark when he executed a ferocious drive from some twenty-five yards out, only to see his effort go over off the crossbar. The decisive moment of the clash arrived in the 81st minute as offensive minded right fullback Gary Neville sent a fine cross to midfield combatant Roy Keane who fiercely headed the ball into the goal to give The Reds the advantage in a tight tussle. Shortly afterwards, Quinton Fortune replacement John O´Shea almost added a second goal for the visiting team, but his dangerous curled shot from inside the box was well saved by outstretched Leeds net custodian Paul Robinson. As the match approached the end, Seth Johnson was yellow carded for a rather rough tackle on Neville who took the subsequent free-kick which found Paul Scholes whose strike hit the bar from six yards out seconds before the final whistle. Now, according to Manchester born writer Anthony Burgess, soccer is traditionally crude, and attract roughs, drunks and roarers, and it cannot be discussed in pubs without passion and obscenity. Very well put, indeed. Leeds United Team: Paul Robinson, Zoumana Camara, Gary Kelly, Dominic Matteo, James Milner, David Batty, Salomon Olembe, Alan Smith, Mark Viduka, Seth Johnson, Jermaine Pennant. Substitutes: Aaron Lennon, Lamine Sakho, Michael Bridges, Roque Junior, Scott Carson. Manchester United Team: Tim Howard, Gary Neville, Mikael Silvestre, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Neville, Darren Fletcher, Quinton Fortune, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes, Ronaldo. Substitutes: John O’Shea, Nicky Butt, Diego Forlan, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Roy Carroll.