The Australia link that has already seen Leeds United send Aston Villa 'Down Under'
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Twenty years ago, a Leeds Aussie was sending Villa under, Mark Viduka bagging the decisive strike in a 1-0 victory against the Birmingham outfit of April 2002.
Villa will present United’s second of three opponents upon this summer’s pre-season tour of Australia in a friendly in Brisbane next Sunday morning.
The two clubs have been back alongside each other in English football’s top flight for the last two seasons, two decades on from the clashes at the turn of the Millennium.
Until Leeds went down, the Whites had a decent enough record against Villa, Viduka enhancing that record when bagging the only goal of the game in the April 2002 win at Villa Park.
The victory formed the second part of a five-game unbeaten run against the Midlands outfit but did not prevent David O’Leary’s Whites from missing out on Champions League football, finishing fifth just two years before relegation in May 2004.
Back in the 2001-02 campaign, O’Leary’s side had taken a 1-1 draw from the reverse fixture at Elland Road in November in which goalscorer Alan Smith was sent off after just 32 minutes.
Hassan Kachloul equalised just three minutes later but five months on there was no Villa comeback after Viduka’s strike one minute before the half four mark.
Leeds approached the contest having won four of their last six games and O’Leary’s side looked to have taken an early lead even before Viduka’s strike when Robbie Keane tucked home Alan Smith’s cross.
Keane was flagged offside and Villa then thought they were set to be awarded a penalty shortly afterwards as Juan Pablo Angel went to ground as he looked to beat Dom Matteo in the Whites box.
Referee Barry Knight blew his whistle but to book Angel for diving, replay’s showing minimal contact from Matteo as the Colombian looked to turn the defender upon latching onto a Mark Delaney through ball.
Back up the other end, a terrible mistake by Thomas Hitzlsperger then played in Viduka but the Australian’s attempt to coolly side foot the ball past the onrushing Peter Enckelman sailed narrowly past the wrong side of the post.
Viduka, though, had the last laugh when netting the only goal of the game after a sublime turn just after the half hour mark. Villa gave the ball away to David Batty in their own half and Batty surged towards the home side’s defence before feeding Keane on the edge of the box.
Keane then played a short pass to Viduka who had his back to goal but Viduka produced a mesmeric Cruyff style turn to take the ball into the area before flicking a neat finish past Enckleman into the back of the net.
Viduka was causing the Villa defence all sorts of problems and his presence created an opening after the break for Lee Bowyer who rushed into the box only to see his flicked attempted lob blocked by Enckleman at close range.
Villa boss Graham Taylor threw on Jlloyd Samuel, Steve Stone and Darius Vassell in search of an equaliser, supplementing an attack which already featured Peter Crouch.
Two decent crosses from Stone put United under pressure and the hosts were only denied an equaliser as Nigel Martyn produced a brilliant save to tip a rising effort from Samuel over the bar.
Moments later, a rasping drive from Delaney was deflected just wide via the feet of Matteo but United were instead awarded a goal kick.
Another smart save from Martyn then denied the hosts as a looping cross-cum-shot from Hitsplerger made its way to the top right corner, only for the Whites custodian to scramble back towards his line and scoop the effort behind for a corner.
Martyn was not for passing, Leeds were not for beating and this was their and Viduka’s day.