When Leeds United last won at Anfield only for Liverpool to have last laugh
LEEDS UNITED will take on Liverpool for the 116th time in a competitive fixture this evening.
The Whites and Reds will renew a rivalry that featured regular battles in the 1990s and at the turn of the Millennium, decades after the club’s famous battles of the 1960s and 1970s.
A goalless draw at Anfield in April 1969 claimed Don Revie’s Whites the ultimate prize in English football – the club’s first ever First Division championship – during a season in which Bill Shankly’s Reds had to settle for second.
Fifty-one years later, tonight’s clash at Anfield will see the two sides face off for the first time in a league fixture since February 2004 when the Whites and Reds shared a 2-2 draw at Elland Road.
Three months later, United were relegated and it has taken until now for Leeds to return to English football’s top tier.
Yet three years before the club’s relegation, there was absolutely no sign of the demise that would follow as David O’Leary’s side recorded a 2-1 win at Anfield on April 13, 2001.
It remains United’s most recent win at Liverpool’s famous home.
United’s 2000-01 league visit to the red half of Merseyside came five months after the most epic clash in recent memory between the two sides when Mark Viduka’s sensational four-timer sealed a stunning 4-3 win at Elland Road.
Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool had then gained some sort of revenge two-and-a-half months later as late strikes from Nick Barmby and Emile Heskey sealed a 2-0 triumph at LS11 in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Yet the Premiership presented both sides’ priority, with two clubs looking to end Manchester United’s stranglehold on the division whilst also aiming for qualification for the Champions League.
The previous season had seen O’Leary’s Whites pip Houllier’s Reds to the division’s final Champions League spot as United finished third and two points ahead of Liverpool, who had to settle for UEFA Cup qualification in fourth.
The Reds went on to win the UEFA Cup the following season while for Leeds that third-placed finish would ultimately prove the launchpad for reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
By the time Leeds and Liverpool faced off for the second time in the league the following season, just three points separated the two sides but with Liverpool having a game in hand.
Leeds lined up on the back of four straight league wins, and goals from Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer saw O’Leary’s men boot six points clear of their Merseyside counterparts only for the Reds to ultimately have the last laugh by pipping the Whites to the final Champions League spot by a point.
Leeds took just four minutes to go in front, with Ferdinand escaping his markers to clinically head home Ian Harte’s corner at the near post.
The Whites then doubled their lead three minutes after the half-hour mark as a sublime pass from Harry Kewell picked out Bowyer, who eventually beat ‘keeper Sander Westerveld at the second attempt.
Liverpool looked to come storming back and a 20-year-old Steven Gerrard slid home Michael Owen’s cross 10 minutes after the break.
But Gerrard’s afternoon then took a huge turn for the worse in the 71st minute when the midfielder, who had already been booked, caught David Batty and was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Viduka was then only denied United’s third by the post but United had already done enough to record what looked like being a crucial victory.
However, the Reds responded by dropping just two points in their final seven league games, with only a 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea preventing a clean sweep of wins.
Leeds won all but one of their remaining six league fixtures, but a 2-1 loss at Arsenal either side of the club’s two Champions League semi-final legs against Valencia ultimately cost United dear.
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Thank you Laura Collins