A drop of the shoulder, a deft right-footed chip over the oncoming Sander Westerveld, and all of a sudden, the Elland Road crowd knew they were back in it.
What they didn’t know was that they were about to witness one of the greatest individual performances the famous old ground had ever played host to.
It was 17 years ago this week that Mark Viduka scored this, the first of his four goals in a breathless 4-3 win over a Liverpool side that had raced into a two-goal lead inside 19 minutes.
From the moment the ball fell to him via Alan Smith’s charge down of Christian Ziege’s laboured clearance, the match became a one-man mission to fell the then four-time European champions.
It was the performance of a striker at the peak of his powers, the stunning quartet showcasing every asset of his arsenal; power, aerial prowess and above all, an incredible ability to make putting the ball in the net look easy.
His second came just after the break in trademark style thanks to a typically accurate Gary Kelly cross. Striding forward, Viduka timed his run perfectly to find the space between Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher and glance the ball into the far corner; 2-2.
This was where the Elland Road crowd came into life. Sensing something special, they rose to the occasion, joining Viduka on his solo quest to steal three points from their top table contemporaries. Neither side settled into a rhythm until Liverpool’s Vladimir Smicer gutpunched Leeds once more to make it 3-2 on the hour.
Both sides had suffered 120 minutes of League Cup action just days previously, and before long, the one-man mission became like a laboured bar brawl, both sides trading attack after attack with neither able to land a blow. That was, of course, until Viduka shot into life with 17 minutes to go.
He had played every minute of Leeds’ midweek encounter, an extra-time defeat to a Tranmere Rovers side who would go on to finish bottom of the second tier. Indeed, Leeds had led 2-0 in that match, their fifth without a win. Liverpool, on the other hand, had overcome Chelsea in their fifth win on the spin, with Gerard Houllier’s bright young things fancied as title contenders.
That title charge was dented when the big Australian completed his hat-trick to level the scores once more, twisting and turning his way through the Liverpool defence after gliding onto an Olivier Dacourt through ball. It was the most iconic of the four goals, a Sky Sports montage staple that many misremember as the winner. The winner it wasn’t. That came in sensational fashion just moments later, when a tiring Reds defence fell victim to a footballer operating at a different level to those in his presence.
Those in red shirts were merely witnesses as Viduka controlled a scuffed Dacourt shot before chipping a hapless Westerveld in much the same fashion as his first. The 2000/01 season was one full of so many iconic moments for Leeds United, but the triumphant Australian wheeling away to blow kisses to the Elland Road faithful is up there with any.
After a difficult evening for Leeds’ forwards on Friday, how Thomas Christiensen’s Whites could do with a Mark Viduka.
Leeds United 4 (Viduka 24, 47, 73, 74)
Liverpool 3 (Hyypiä 2, Ziege 18, Smicer 61)
FA Carling Premiership, November 4, 2000
Leeds United: Robinson, Kelly, Harte, Woodgate, Matteo, Bowyer, Bakke, Dacourt, Burns, Smith, Viduka. Subs: Jones, Hay, Milosevic, Evans.
Liverpool: Westerveld, Carragher, Ziege, Babbel, Hyypia, Smicer, Murphy, McAllister, Hamann, Berger, Heskey. Subs: Henchoz, Fowler, Gerrard, Arphexad, Barmby.
Referee: David Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).