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The BBC's Dave Woods
"Admiration of the quality of Andy Cole's finish"
 real 28k

Sir Alex Ferguson
"Whoever scored the first goal was going to win"
 real 28k

Sunday, 20 February, 2000, 14:06 GMT
Cole leaves Leeds behind

Radebe's desparing dive could not stop Cole scoring


Leeds 0-1 Man Utd

Andy Cole gave the defending champions a clear title race advantage with the only goal of the game at Elland Road.

The 52nd-minute strike ensures that the Manchester side now enjoy a six-point advantage over the second-placed Yorkshire side.

The home side enjoyed more of the chances, but once ahead the Manchester club used all their experience to hang on to their slim lead.

Key moments
12: Harte tests Bosnich, not for the last time
20: Irwin is first booking
29: Yorke limps off
52: Cole strikes
81: Bowyer misses by a mile
They were also helped by a staggering miss by Leeds midfielder Lee Bowyer, who skied a shot from six yards with Mark Bosnich two yards inside the goal.

The match reflected the FA's pleas for an improvement in discipline on the pitch with just three yellow cards and few of the crunching tackles normally associated with a match between the pair.

There was more controversy before the kick-off than during the match, with the news that David Beckham had been left out of the Manchester team.

The development followed reports of a training ground bust-up with boss Sir Alex Ferguson on Saturday.

Beckham Beckham was at the game but not participating
But the Scot was leaping around in celebration seven minutes after half-time.

Cole sprinted clear of Lucas Radebe in the Leeds defence and slotted a neat finish past Nigel Martyn.

With Beckham absent Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Roy Keane all started in midfield, but Dwight Yorke's return from the Gold Cup ended after half an hour due to an injury.

Leeds had skipper Radebe back after shrugging off a shin injury sustained at the African Cup of Nations, but were missing top-scorer Michael Bridges.


It was very important game today but the most important games are ahead....it's fair to we say we have a good chance of the title
Sir Alex Ferguson
The visitors started the brighter with Cole and Yorke lively in their link-up play, but after 10 minutes Ian Harte went close with the first of a series of free kicks through the game.

The Irishman's first shot was seen late by Bosnich but he reacted quickly enough to parry the ball away.

It took 14 minutes for anything like a bad challenge to feature in the game, although Alan Smith and Keane were both dealt with leniently before Denis Irwin was booked for for a high challenge on Harry Kewell.

Kewell was one of the three players booked
From the free kick Harte again made Bosnich push away at full stretch to his left.

Stam was later shown yellow for persistent fouling as the half ended with Leeds winning a series of corners.

In the 29th minute the limping Yorke left the field to be replaced by Teddy Sheringham.

But Scholes came closest to a first half strike for United with a curling shot from the D which was just wide.

Leeds came out after half-time on the attack again but Cole ruined all their good work.


They got the chance and they took it, we had chances and we missed them
David O'Leary
Scholes' through ball was flicked in the air by Andy Cole, who then lifted it over a static Radebe before bearing down on a back-pedalling Martyn.

All the South African defender could do was try to drag Cole down from behind. He failed and Martyn could not stop a neat finish from the striker.

The woodwork of both goals was struck before the hour mark, with Keane hitting the post two minutes after Cole's strike.

Eirik Bakke headed a corner against the crossbar with Bosnich beaten, which followed another save from a Harte free kick.

Irwin was carded for this challenge on Kewell
Leeds were frustrated, and Kewell was booked for finally losing his cool by bouncing the ball into the ground in anger after fouling Stam.

As the home side pushed forward, Manchester broke on two occasions with Martyn denying Scholes and Butt with good saves.

But Leeds have only themselves - and particularly Bowyer - to blame for not drawing level.

In the 81st minute Bosnich spilled a close range shot to Smith, who fired against the post at full stretch.

But with the Australian keeper diving behind the line, Bowyer fired over for what will surely be the miss of the season in terms of the effect it will have on the destination of the Premiership trophy.

Teams:

Leeds:
Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Bakke, Bowyer, Jones, Wilcox, Smith, Kewell. Subs: Haaland, Hopkin, Huckerby, Mills, Robinson.

Man Utd: Bosnich, G. Neville, Stam, Silvestre, Irwin, Scholes, Keane, Butt, Giggs, Yorke, Cole. Subs: Sheringham, P. Neville, Cruyff, Berg, Van Der Gouw.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough)

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See also:
20 Feb 00 |  Football
Giggs pulls out again
20 Feb 00 |  FA Carling Premiership
Beckham axed by Ferguson
20 Feb 00 |  Football
Football's flawed superstar?
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Magpies dash Rovers' double dreams
19 Feb 00 |  FA Carling Premiership
Ricard rifles Boro to victory
19 Feb 00 |  FA Cup
Bolton heroics burst Charlton bubble
19 Feb 00 |  Football
Blues confused as Eagle takes flight
19 Feb 00 |  FA Cup
Taylor responds with romance
19 Feb 00 |  Football
Ten-yard rule approved
19 Feb 00 |  Football
Merson quits international football
Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.