The Leeds United and Chelsea clash that had late drama added to usual explosive mix

LEEDS United's clashes against fierce rivals Chelsea have rarely been dull.

Saturday, 13th March 2021, 5:45 am

There's usually a card or two as well.

And back in April 2001 there were all the usual ingredients plus very late drama on former Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink's return in the blue shirt of Chelsea.

Just as the Blues looked set to leave Elland Road with a goalless draw, Robbie Keane and Mark Viduka both netted in the final four minutes to seal a sixth-straight league win and send Leeds third in a game featuring seven bookings.

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BREAKTHROUGH: Striker Robbie Keane fires Leeds United ahead in the 86th minute of the 2-0 victory against fierce rivals Chelsea in the Elland Road fixture of April 2001. Photo by Tom Shaw/ALLSPORT via Getty Images.

United will finally renew Elland Road rivalry with their historic enemies from London in today's lunch-time kick off which will provide the first meeting between the two clubs in Yorkshire for just over eight years.

The Whites and Blues last clashed at LS11 in the Capital One Cup back in December 2012 when goals from Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres gave Rafa Benitez' side an easy victory.

Leeds were just over two years into life back as a Championship side having been promoted as League One runners up in 2010 and still under the care of Simon Grayson.

But this weekend will present a first top-flight clash between the two sides at Elland Road since December 2003 and Leeds had a decent home record against the Blues before going down.

The December 2003 clash ended in a 1-1 draw whilst first-half goals from Jonathan Woodgate and James Milner sealed a 2-0 victory in December 2002 for what remains the last home win against the Blues.

The previous season's league clash at Elland Road ended in a goalless draw but it was the showdown of the 2000-01 campaign that provided late drama in addition to the usual explosive mix against Claudio Ranieri's Blues.

An attendance of 39,253 crammed into Elland Road and a Chelsea side featuring future Whites boss Dennis Wise almost took an early lead via an Ian Harte own goal as the left back looked to see off a Graeme Le Saux cross.

Instead, his clearance was heading for the roof of the net and tipped over the bar by Nigel Martyn.

Back came Leeds and Lee Bowyer raced on to a lovey floated cross from Harte only to blast his shot just wide.

From a frantic passage of play that began with a Leeds corner, Bowyer was then denied by a decent save by Carlo Cudicini who raced off his line to thwart his shot from the middle of the box with Rio Ferdinand still down injured in the area.

Mark Viduka then fired narrowly wide after creating an opening with a majestic turn following Alan Smith's flick from the left.

United were then denied what looked like definite penalty after Marcel Desailly fell and handled the ball just inside the area and Chelsea escaped again seconds later when Cudicini somehow tipped Bowyer's header wide.

Chelsea then went even closer when a superb raking shot from Gianfranco Zola from all of 25 yards out crashed off the post and behind for a goal kick with a diving Martyn beaten.

But Leeds would not be denied and the Whites finally went ahead when through substitute Robbie Keane with just four minutes left.

A commanding header from defence from Danny Mills was met by a flick from Erik Bakke which sent Keane clear and the striker netted from a tight angle at the second attempt after Cudicini's initial efforts to save his shot.

The trademark acrobatic celebration followed and just two minutes later United were celebrating again as Viduka finally got his goal and in explosive fashion.

A long ball forward from Bowyer had Chelsea's defence on their heels and Desailly made a meal of attempting to clear.

That left Viduka bearing down on Cudicini and the Australian unleashed a blockbuster of a half volley from the edge of the box that absolutely flew into the top right.

Leeds had needed to win by two goals to go into third place and boss David O'Leary was left with a beaming smile after being pressed on mission accomplished.

"I didn't know that honestly," he said.

"I was more concerned about three points and we deserved it.

"It wasn't the greatest game, it was scrappy but I think games now towards the end of the season like this are that way.

"It's great when you can play well but the thing that you are after is maximum points and that's what we got today."

Yet in the days when only the top three sealed qualification for the Champions League, Leeds were ultimately pipped by a place and a point by Liverpool and finished fourth which was to prove extremely costly in the long run whilst Chelsea only ended up sixth.

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Thank you Laura Collins