Leeds 0 Manchester Utd 1

Roy Keane

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.


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