Published — Wednesday 24 March 2004
Last Update 24 March 2004 3:00 am
LEEDS, England, 24 March 2004 — Relegation-threatened Leeds United beat Manchester City 2-1 in the Premier League on Monday to give the club’s new owners the perfect start.
Mark Viduka’s 76th-minute penalty sealed only Leeds’ sixth victory of the season, moving them off the foot of the table one point above Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“We knew we had to win the game and overall I’m pleased with the performance,” Leeds manager Eddie Gray told Sky Sports. “We just need to take every game as it comes and try to pick up as many points as possible. If we stay up I’ll be delighted.” Leeds were taken over last Friday by a consortium of local businessmen, led by Gerald Krasner, in a deal that saved them from financial meltdown by wiping out much of their debts of up to 100 million pounds ($184.9 million).
“It’s great for everybody connected with the club, especially the supporters, and hopefully now we can move forward,” Gray said.
City dominated the early stages of a scrappy match at Elland Road but Leeds took the lead after 23 minutes when midfielder Stephen McPhail’s curling free kick evaded a scrum of players before creeping into the net off the far post.
The visitors equalized just before halftime through French striker Nicolas Anelka’s firm low shot from just outside the penalty area.
The game looked to be heading for a draw until England striker Alan Smith was needlessly bundled over in the penalty area by City’s Belgian defender Daniel van Buyten, who was sent off.
Australian striker Viduka stepped up calmly to slot the spot-kick high into the net and Leeds hung on to give themselves hope of avoiding relegation with nine matches of the season remaining.
They have 25 points from 29 games, only two behind Leicester City who occupy 17th place in the 20-team standings.