DISCLAIMER: This is a FICTIONAL match!
Manchester United 3-2 Leeds United
A 52nd minute Harry Kewell goal was enough to see Leeds United seal a victory that saw them move just one point behind leaders Arsenal in the Premiership title race.
Kewell’s strike was just one of many talking points in a game that saw referee Uriah Rennie issue three red cards and award four penalties in front of 67,776 at Old Trafford.
The hosts started the game brightly and created the first chance in the 5th minute when Ryan Giggs flashed a volley over the top of Nigel Martyn’s crossbar following a Juan Sebastian Veron through ball.
Tensions always run high when these sides meet and it took just 10 minutes before the first flashpoint arrived, with Mark Viduka booked for a late challenge on Laurent Blanc.
A frantic period followed in which both sides looked to assert control of the game and further bookings followed for Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs.
The Red Devils were then forced into an early change, Wes Brown replacing Laurent Blanc, but the change did not affect their momentum and Ruud van Nistelrooy forced Martyn into another save on 23 minutes.
Alex Ferguson’s men were then dealt a blow when Ryan Giggs received a second yellow card for a challenge on Lee Bowyer, but the Lancashire side managed to take the lead on 34 minutes.
Dwight Yorke powered past Danny Mills and attempted to chip a stranded Nigel Martyn. The England international managed to get a hand to the ball, but Yorke reacted quickest to the rebound and found the net for his side.
Leeds were then awarded a chance to equalize from the spot when Mikail Silvestre’s challenge felled Robbie Keane in the box, but Fabian Barthez brilliantly turned Ian Harte’s spot kick away.
Keane then made amends for his compatriot’s miss, turning home a Lee Bowyer cross in United’s next attack, and there was to be further drama when the Yorkshire side were awarded a second penalty on the half-time stroke.
Fabian Barthez’s mistimed lunge at the feed of Lee Bowyer saw Rennie point to the spot again and this time Harte made no mistake, sending the Frenchman the wrong way to put the Whites ahead.
Just when it looked like Leeds had regained control, they too were reduced to ten men in first-half stoppage time, Olivier Dacourt dismissed for a two-footed lunge at Mikail Silvestre.
The second period was just four minutes old when the hosts had a penalty of their own.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s through ball sent Yorke galloping through and, after beating Nigel Martyn to the ball, he fell over the outstretched arm of the Leeds goalkeeper, who was then sent off.
Youngster Danny Milosevic was then handed a baptism of fire, replacing the sacrificed Robbie Keane.
Milosevic rose to the challenge, turning Veron’s penalty away, but the Argentine was first to the rebound and drilled home his 5th of the season to level the score at 2-2.
Leeds responded almost immediately and retook the lead.
A high ball from Danny Mills was nodded down by Mark Viduka into the path of Harry Kewell, and the Australian made no mistake, rifling a half-volley past Fabian Barthez and sending the traveling Leeds support into rapture.
Dwight Yorke tested Milosevic from distance as the home side tried to force their way back into the game, but Leeds, despite being down to 9 men, rallied well.
A flowing move in the 72nd minute involving Viduka and Bowyer sent Kewell through on goal again, but this time his effort flew wide of the mark.
Yorke again went close for Man United as the game entered the final ten minutes, but with time ticking away, a youthful Leeds side showed maturity and composure to see out the remaining minutes.
The win puts Leeds within a point of leaders Arsenal and opens up a four-point gap to today’s opponents in 3rdwith that 10-minute period either side of half-time ultimately deciding the game.
Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Gary Neville, Michaël Silvestre, Laurent Blanc, Denis Irwin, David Beckham, Phil Neville, Juan Sebastian Veron, Ryan Giggs, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dwight Yorke.
Subs: Wes Brown for Laurent Blanc (20), Luke Chadwick for Phil Neville (73)
Not used: Roy Carroll, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes.
Goals: Yorke (34), Veron (50)
Yellow cards: Giggs (18), Silvestre (45), van Nistelrooy (61), Beckham (77), Brown (88)
Red cards: Giggs (27)
Leeds United: Nigel Martyn, Danny Mills, Rio Ferdinand, Lucas Radebe, Ian Harte, Olivier Dacourt, Lee Bowyer, Stephen McPhail, Harry Kewell, Robbie Keane, Mark Viduka.
Subs: Erik Bakke for Stephen McPhail (46), Danny Milosevic for Robbie Keane (49)
Not used: Dominc Matteo, Michael Bridges, Anthony Yeboah.
Goals: Keane (42), Harte (45), Kewell (52)
Yellow cards: Viduka (10), Ferdinand (14), Harte (36), Mills (66)
Red cards: Dacourt (45), Martyn (49)