LEEDS never cease to amaze....relegation strugglers one minute to world beaters the next, this 6-1 hammering of Charlton was without doubt the best performance of the season and another feather in Peter Reid's cap as he looks to drag The Whites out of trouble and stake his own claim for the job on a permanent basis.

Mark Viduka scored a superb hat-trick and Harry Kewell was full of running and fully deserved his two goals. Alan Smith had a hand in five of the goals, which tells its own story.

In what Peter Reid can arguably claim to be his first real team selection, he was able to bring back skipper Dominic Matteo, Gary Kelly, Michael Duberry and Harry Kewell into the side after injury.

Paul Okon, Raul Bravo and Teddy Lucic were the victim of Reid's sweeping changes, and positionally he also made changes.  Matteo was moved up to centre-midfield and Kewell was just to his left.  Ian Harte returned to left-back, Mills was at right-back and Kelly pushed up to the right midfield, as he was under Terry Venables.   Alan Smith was playing with a smile on his face upfront alongside Mark Viduka.

Reserve team striker Simon Johnson was rewarded for a recent rich vein of scoring form that saw him net five goals in four games with a place on the bench for the first time.

Kick-off at The Valley was delayed for 15 minutes after disruption on the main line to Kings Cross meant the majority of travelling United fans couldn't make it before kick-off.

Charlton kicked off in bright sunny conditions in South-east London, but it was Leeds who put the pressure on early, winning a corner within seconds, whilst Danny Mills was to learn that he was not the most popular of Addick's old boys with every touch receiving a chorus of boos. 

Five minutes into the game and Viduka won a free kick on edge of the area after Mark Fish climbed all over him to win the header. Harte's free kick was driven in low to the back post and Viduka was nearly there to turn it in as the home side escaped.

It signalled a bright early spell for the Whites that saw them win no less than five corners in the first ten minutes. Typically though, none of them produced a real threat on goal.

Leeds got their reward for their effort on 15 minutes when Kewell extended his claim as the club's leading goalscorer.

It was a classic move that began with Paul Robinson throwing the ball out to Kewell wide on the right, his run had the Charlton defence on the back foot, and then he put the ball over to Viduka who managed to control it inside the area before feeding it out wide to Alan Smith who in turn fired the ball across the face of goal.  Kewell stormed in and sidefooted it into the back of the net.

On 22 minutes Leeds came within a whisker of extending their lead when Harte's corner was flicked on by Viduka, it fell dangerously into the centre of the six-yard box where it was inadvertently sliced goalwards by Charlton's Danish international Claus Jensen, but Parker managed to spare his blushes with a block on the line.

Mark Viduka had a goal bound shot palmed away with ten minutes of the half remaining by Dean Kiely, and Kewell couldn't get enough power behind the loose ball to punish Charlton further.

The missed chance didn't matter as a minute later United did make it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

Alan Smith won penalty after he was bundled down by Richard Rufus, a tug on the shirt allowed Smith to go to ground. Ian Harte stepped up and comfortably beat Kiely, although the keeper guessed the right way.

Charlton were there for the taking, Leeds appeared to be able to move forward unhindered whilst Duberry and Radebe looked more than comfortable when dealing with Charlton's attacks. It was encouraging too to see every blue shirt running back to help defend.

It could have been 3-0 when Matteo swung a cross into the penalty area and despite being surrounded by three players, Alan Smith managed to get in a goalbound header that Kiely was able to deal with.
Matteo was the first man booked shortly afterwards, just catching Kishishev's ankle when the ball had gone.

Viduka did make it 3-0 two minutes before half-time when he rifled a shot on from the right of the penalty area into the far corner, under the despairing dive of the Charlton keeper.  Alan Smith deserved praise for his clever header under pressure that put Viduka in the clear.

Radebe was judged to have taken down Scott Parker in the last minute of the half to conceed a penalty.  Jason Euell put the home side back into the game with a low shot that sent Robinson the wrong way.

Four minutes into the second half and Paul Robinson was forced to pull off a great save to ensure Leeds two goal advantage was not cut to one.   Euell managed to play in Scott Parker inside the penalty box, and somehow Robinson was able to dive backwards and tip the ball over the bar in front of the watching England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson.

On 53 minutes though Leeds regained their composure to make it 4-1. 

Alan Smith did the difficult work as he juggled the ball with his back to goal, turned two defenders and set off on a run for goal before squaring the ball for Viduka to smash home his second goal of the afternoon from the edge of the area.

Alan Smith was then fouled by Luke Young a minute later inside the area, almost wrestled to the ground as he tried to contol the ball, and even he appeared surprised when referee Eddie Wolstenholme pointed to the penalty spot.

Mark Viduka completed his hat-trick with a well taken-penalty and suddenly 'relegation threatened' Leeds were looking at their biggest score of the season as Viduka's goal made it 5-1 with still over half an hour to go.

Jason Euell thought he had reduced the damage for Charlton but his pull on Radebe in the build-up was spotted by the referee.

Smith was nearly booked for persistent fouling, but was let-off with a warning much to his and Peter Reid's relief as another caution would have seen him pick up a two match ban for reaching ten yellow cards this season.

Harry Kewell was presented with a simple chance to make it six after a he picked off a stray pass from Tahar El-Khalej and duly obliged by placing the ball past a downtrodden Kiely.

Six-nil and the chant from a great United following was for seven! With just over ten minutes left, anything was possible.

Sub Simon Johnson came on to make his debut, and tactically it was a wise move from Reid who was aware of Smith's suspension tightrope.  Jason Wilcox also came on shortly afterwards for Harry Kewell, who had certainly earned his corn in this game.

Possession %56%44%
Shots on target 410
Shots off target14
Blocked shots32
Foul conceded1420
Yellow cards21
Red cards00

Charlton were so cut apart that even Ian Harte saw fit to try his luck from distance, a yard more and his 30-yarder would have heralded goal number seven.

James Milner completed the substitutions for Leeds when he replaced Eirik Bakke with three minutes of normal time remaining.

Viduka missed the chance to score four for the second time in his United career when he hammered his shot against the cross-bar.

The announcement of two minutes of extra time went out to a half empty Valley stadium, and the final whistle when it came heralded the song 'always look on the bright side of life.'

For once it was United fans that had reason to smile as they witnessed the best performance from The Whites all season.