LEEDS eased their relegation fears thanks to a double strike from Mark Viduka on a night so tense you could cut the atmosphere with a knife!


Despite having recovered from his sore knees, Peter Reid was again without Lucas Radebe after the centre-half picked up a virus. 

Skipper Dominic Matteo recovered though and moved back to defence and partnered Michael Duberry,  his inclusion meant Leeds were unchanged following the 3-2 defeat at Southampton.  

Fulham, boosted by their win over Newcastle, give a debut to teenage striker Elvis Hammond in what represented their only change.


Leeds have to win this one! That's the verdict of just about every commentator at Elland Road tonight, who fear that a failure to pick up three points tonight and another poor result against high flying Blackburn, would leave United having to get something out of their trip to Highbury and then win what would be an extremely tense game at home against Aston Villa on the last day of the season to stay up!

Ian Harte swung in an early free kick after Harry Kewell was held back, but it flew straight into Fulham keeper Maik Taylor's hands, the collective groan around Elland Road hoped it wasn't going to set the tone for the rest of the night.

Djetou took Harry Kewell's legs from beneath him after he managed to skip clear of the first challenge, but Leeds again did little with the free-kick. Viduka's shot was blocked and Kewell played it out to Smith but he smashed it well wide.

Then it all changed in an instant for Leeds as the opening goal came and Elland Road roared with appreciative applause.

With three minutes on the clock, Harry Kewell won a corner, Gary Kelly swung it in and found Mark Viduka positioned perfectly in the centre of the area to send in a bullet like header into the back of the visitors net.

Jason Wilcox could have made it 2-0 on seven minutes when the ball broke to him on the edge of the area, but the winger could only hold his head as his attempted Volley soared wide.

Fulham lost Martin Djetou after nine minutes when the right-back picked up a hamstring injury, he was replaced by the lanky centre-half Zat Knight.

The influential Gary Kelly was knocked over for free-kick that his nephew Ian Harte delivered deep into the area, Viduka came close to getting the all important touch on the ball but Fulham managed to get a toe in before him or else it would have been 2-0 and the goal that would have put Leeds into the comfort zone.

Twenty minutes gone and Eirik Bakke stormed forward on the break, managed to play it wide to Viduka on the edge of the area but he saw his shot blocked and the rebound came back to Bakke on the penalty spot, but the Norwegian could only smash it over the bar.

Luis Boa Morte earned himself the first yellow card of the evening after clattering into Mark Viduka as Leeds were just starting to break free.

Fulham were restricted to rare long shots on goal, Lee Clark went wide and then the youngster Elvis Hammond sent one just past the post with Robinson reading the situation well.

A moment of brilliance from Mark Viduka nearly gave Alan Smith the chance to score his first goal since January.  Viduka flicked the ball over his head away from the Fulham defence inside a packed area, and then played it out wide for Smithy who was set to smash it home until Zat Knight's intervention.

Smith should have scored a minute later when Bakke dispossessed Sean Davis and played it to Alan Smith who created the space for the shot but drilled it a yard wide of the goal.

Gary Kelly and Harry Kewell combined well with each other five minutes before the break when an audacious move saw Kelly chip it forward, Kewell flicked it over the defender and on the turn managed to get in a shot that bounced short before falling the wrong side of the goal.

Michael Duberry made an inspired run from the left of his own penalty area and managed to surge forward a full 50 yards before he was fouled, earning warm applause from the crowd for his endeavour.  From the free-kick Kewell put a shot over the bar as he went to try and find the top left hand corner.


Three minutes into the second half and Elland Road scored a huge collective sigh of relief and Viduka made it 2-0 with his second.

It all began in midfield where a misplaced backpass from Legwinski went straight to Viduka, he fed Kewell and Harry's managed to surge into the penalty area and stay on his feet despite two tackles flying in and when his shot was smothered by the Fulham keeper it appeared the danger had passed, but Viduka was following home and struck a vicious shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Second half substitute Barry Hayles went into the book after he scythed down Harry Kewell with a late tackle. 

Peter Reid had asked for his defence to tighten up and they did just that for him, restricting Fulham to long range efforts and no shots on target with an hour gone.   Having Dominic Matteo in the heart of the defence was paying dividends for Reid.

Leeds had to deal with more huff and puff from the visitors for a while, but remained capable of grabbing more goals. No-one came closer than Harry Kewell when he cut in from the right and fired in low from the edge of the area just clipping the outside of the post.

Possession %53%47%
Shots on target30
Shots off target136
Blocked shots33
Yellow cards02
Red cards00

A foul on the edge of the area gave Mark Viduka the chance to get his second hat-trick in the space of three games, but hit his shot into the wall and Harte fired the loose ball over.

Viduka deserved his hat-trick but still it wouldn't come, he tip toed his way around the edge of the area to line up a shot from which he would have scored, but took a second too long and allowed Fulham to cover at the expense of a corner.

Another man who should have had a goal to round off his evening was Eirik Bakke, but the midfielder just couldn't keep his shots down, as it proved when he hammered Wilcox's shot over on 90 minutes.

The final whistle was greeted by huge applause - almost as if Leeds had instead won the league - and the chant of "there's only one Gary Kelly" rang out as United celebrated three most vital points.