Viduka spares Leeds' blushes

Leeds 2 Tottenham 2

Leeds 2 Tottenham 2

Mark Viduka spared interim-boss Peter Reid a debut home defeat after former Leeds star Robbie Keane had threatened to drag his old club firmly back into the relegation mire.

Viduka’s brace, taking his tally to 17 for the season, sandwiched three mad minutes for Leeds which effectively unravelled three weeks of hard work from Reid since taking over as manager from the sacked Terry Venables.

The 6-1 hammering of Charlton at The Valley last week had created an expectant air at Elland Road as there were signs the gloom which had prevailed under Venables along with former chairman Peter Ridsdale, was finally lifting.

It meant Reid was given a warm reception by the Leeds supporters who once vilified him whenever he played at Elland Road, as well as those times when he was a visiting manager with Manchester City and Sunderland.

Yet after this result, he has still only won one game at Elland Road in eight games as a manager, and that was earlier this season when Sunderland beat Leeds 1-0.

Reid, though, should have been celebrating another victory which would have made him the toast of Unitedites across the country and taken Leeds to the magical 40-point mark.

As it is, Leeds are still not out of the relegation woods and they remain just six points clear of the drop zone, with five matches remaining.

For the opening 35 minutes of this match, Leeds played the kind of football which led to their comprehensive dismantling of Alan Curbishley’s side.

During the dominant opening spell, and as in south London against the Addicks, Spurs barely managed to escape from their own half as Harry Kewell and Viduka conjured up an eyecatching display of football.

It was the Australian duo who delightfully combined in the 31st minute to give Leeds a deserved lead, with Viduka maintaining his rich vein of form in front of goal.

Viduka had already clipped the outside of Kasey Keller’s right-hand post with a 20-yard drive courtesy of Kewell’s imagination as a flickover pass into his compatriot’s path was sublime.

When the goal arrived it came as no surprise as Eirik Bakke’s through ball to Kewell gave the 24-year-old another opportunity to show off his talent.

His control and touch was exquisite, allowing him to deliver a pass into Viduka’s stride, and then it was a case of one touch and bang, with Keller beaten by a firm right-foot shot.

But then the Leeds script was alarmingly ripped up as United’s defensive frailties, so evident under former boss Terry Venables, came to the fore.

Spurs had barely ventured into the United penalty area in those first 35 minutes, but in the space of the following three they twice breached the Leeds goal-line.

Goran Bunjecevic was allowed to flick on a 36th-minute Darren Anderton corner, with Teddy Sheringham applying the finishing touch with a stooping header from eight yards for his 12th goal of the season.

Tottenham’s next counter-thrust then silenced Elland Road, with Keane haunting his former team-mates and matching Sheringham’s goal tally for this campaign.

Keane, a £7million buy at the end of August, comfortably waltzed past the challenges of Ian Harte, Bakke and Lucas Radebe before curling a 17-yard left-foot shot beyond Paul Robinson.

It was the kind of defending which is almost certain to have prompted an expletive-ridden rollocking from Reid during his half-time team-talk.

Leeds, for all their superiority of the half, could even more remarkably have been 3-1 adrift at the break but for birthday-boy Radebe, celebrating his 34th today.

The South African centre-back, to Reid’s relief, was on hand to intercept a sidefoot shot from Sheringham at the far post as no-one had picked up the England international as he latched onto a cross-field free-kick from Anderton.

Reid, though, was bold during the second half as he made attacking changes, with James Milner and Jason Wilcox replacing full backs Danny Mills and Ian Harte.

It meant there were no arguments this week as to who would take the equalising penalty when Kewell was hauled down by Keller in the corner of the box.

With Harte off the pitch, Viduka confidently despatched his ninth goal from his last five league matches past Keller, and so sparking a bid for matchwinning glory from Leeds in the closing 15 minutes.

Spurs somehow survived as Alan Smith and Bakke both came close in the closing stages, but it was not to be the victory Reid had hoped for.

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