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Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Man Utd cruise past Leeds
Man United 3-0 Leeds
Dwight Yorke celebrated his return to the Premiership by opening the floodgates in a comprehensive win over arch rivals Leeds United.
The Trinidad striker started his first league game of the campaign in place of the injured Teddy Sheringham and had an immediate impact, turning in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's cross despite appearing to have arrived from an offside position.
But if the match was a personal triumph for Yorke, it was David Beckham who proved the real hero.
The England midfielder was left on the substitutes bench but was introduced within 30 minutes due to an injury to captain Roy Keane.
His impact was immeasurable and Beckham's contribution of a goal and two assists was the most significant difference between the two sides - closely followed by Leeds' appalling injury list.
Both teams were returning from European exploits in the Champions League, but showed little signs of fatigue as they went about the business of challenging for the points in this match.
Quinton Fortune almost put Manchester United ahead after three minutes when he made space at the edge of the box and shot through a crowd of white-shirted players only to be denied by Paul Robinson, who turned his low curling shot past for a corner.
Leeds hit back minutes later when they sprung a lightning counter-attack to open up the home defence. Alan Smith raced clear of the Reds back-line and his low centre was inches away from Lee Bowyer as he came sliding into the box with Fabien Barthez stranded on his six-yard line.
Nicky Butt tested young Robinson after 16 minutes with a powerful shot from 20 yards that the keeper dealt with comfortably. From the resulting corner Dwight Yorke latched onto a Roy Keane flick but blasted a half-volley over the bar from six yards.
The Reds appeared to be making most of their progress in the early stages on the right side of the pitch with Philip Neville, Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer linking well to create some space and give Leeds slight cause for concern.
The champions lost skipper Keane through injury after half-an-hour with a suspected hamstring problem - but Sir Alex Ferguson had the luxury of bringing on David Beckham as his replacement. The change appeared to galvanise the home side and improve their attacking options.
Yorke won a loose ball midway inside the Leeds half and his header freed Solskjaer who burst into the box and hit a low drive across Robinson, but the visitors managed to scramble the ball clear.
The breakthrough was not long in coming though, and when it did the opportunity was created on the right flank. Phil Neville played a one-two with Beckham before sending Solskjaer clear in yards of space. His early cross into the box was a nightmare to defend as the ball zipped off the turf between goalkeeper and defenders for Yorke to connect at the back post with a diving header.
Solskjaer was busy again moments later when he won the ball with a tackle in the box against Gary Kelly and spun to shoot powerfully from seven yards - but Robinson was well positioned to block the drive at his near post.
Leeds attempted to hit back early after the break, but were frustrated by a mixture a solid defending and a lack of creativity, with Mark Viduka looking sluggish leading the line.
However, the visitors shot themselves in the foot four minutes into the second period when an off-the-ball incident between Jacob Burns and Solskjaer led to a free-kick for Man United at the edge of the box.
Beckham took the kick which deflected from Bowyer in the wall and spun past Robinson who was already diving in the opposite direction to cover the initial effort.
Leeds forward Smith was booked for dissent after an hour when a decision had gone against him - and soon after his team-mate Bowyer followed him into the book for a rash challenge as the temperature began to rise.
Viduka and Smith did link-up after 66 minutes only for the latter to squander the opportunity with a shot, when a cross into the penalty area always looked the better option.
Manchester United again posed questions on the right flank as twice in a minute Beckham caused Leeds problems. Jonathon Woodgate got across to deflect the first effort for a corner with five red shirts streaming into the box. Scholes was on the end of the second, but could not beat the keeper.
Yorke was next to test Leeds, taking a pass from Wes Brown he turned Woodgate with some ease at the edge of the box and crashed a low drive towards the back post only to see the ball slide narrowly past the target.
The seal was set on the performance for the Manchester side with only seven minutes of the match remaining. Once again it came from the right side of the pitch. Phil Neville set Beckham clear and he centered from the by-line for Solskjaer.
The ball bounced between the United forward and Leeds' young midfielder Matthew Jones and the latter got the final touch as the ball spun over the line for the third goal.
Man Utd: Barthez, G. Neville, Silvestre, Johnsen, P. Neville, Fortune, Butt, Scholes, Keane, Yorke, Solskjaer. Subs: Bosnich, Beckham, Giggs, Brown, Cole.
Leeds: Robinson, Kelly, Matteo, Hay, Woodgate, Bowyer, McPhail, Jones, Burns, Smith, Viduka. Subs: Huckerby, Milosevic, Molenaar, Evans, Hackworth.
Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).
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