LEEDS: Australian international Mark Viduka scored twice to give Leeds a crucial 2-0 victory over fellow English Premier League strugglers Fulham here on Tuesday and virtually ensure they beat the drop.
The 27-year-old took his tally to seven in four matches as he struck in each half to hoist Leeds above Fulham into 15th place on goal difference and six points ahead of third from bottom West Ham with three games remaining as they recorded their first clean sheet in eight Premier League matches.
Viduka’s double came as the perfect response to caretaker manager Peter Reid reading him the riot act after he turned up late not only for the warm-up for the game but also for training on Monday.
“I hope he (Viduka) comes in late every time and I have to give him a rollicking every time and he then scores two goals every time,” said Reid, who has seen Leeds take seven points from their last four matches.
“But it was typical of the big fella. He is something else. Since I have been here he has got so many important goals.
“He is a talented boy. Some of the stuff he does, some of the drag-backs and the way he moves the ball for a big man is terrific.
“His goals were the icing on the cake, but the performance from all of the players was terrific.”
However Reid, who was sacked by Sunderland earlier in the season, wasn’t about to celebrate surviving.
“This is a great result for us, but it doesn’t mean we are safe because West Ham keep winning – as do Bolton.”
His Fulham counterpart Chris Coleman agreed that his side were also far from secure.
“We have still a lot of work to do,” said the former Welsh international central defender, who had to retire prematurely after a near fatal car crash last season.
“We have three massive games coming up and like Leeds we are not out of it. We need a result from somewhere. I hope the players were not thinking coming into this game that they were safe.
“I told them after our win on Saturday that was not the case and there was no mention of it. Tonight I have had to remind them that we are still in trouble and that we need another result,” added Coleman, who took over temporary charge after Jean Tigana was sacked last week.
Viduka struck in the fifth minute with a firm header from Gary Kelly’s corner giving goalkeeper Maik Taylor no chance and the home fans the perfect start with his 18th goal of the season and 16th in the Premier League.
Fulham could barely get a shot on target in the first half with the visitors’ only effort, which forced a save from Paul Robinson, coming from a shot by Elvis Hammond in the 25th minute.
Leeds though were not to be denied and once again came out the hungrier side in the second-half and were duly rewarded when Viduka seized on the rebound from Taylor’s block on Harry Kewell’s strike to make it 2-0.
The Leeds defence – which included Michael Duberry making his 50th appearance for them – dealt easily with anything Fulham threw at them.
Even the arrival of Barry Hayles as an extra striker at half-time, in place of the ineffective Junichi Inamoto, had little effect. – AFP