Telegraph | Sport | Lennon opens account to help Leeds defy odds

Lennon opens account to help Leeds defy odds
By Rob Stewart
(Filed: 27/12/2004)

Match Details

Sunderland (1) 2 Leeds United (1) 3

Leeds managed to lend some weight to Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy's theory that all the teams in the Championship are "as bad as each other" by securing a win that made a mockery of either side's current ranking.

The visiting team had begun proceedings in 20th place in the Championship due to Brighton's lunchtime victory but defied the odds to humble opponents who wasted the chance to go top of the table for the first time since relegation from the Premiership.

"I say, tongue in cheek, that we're all as bad as each other and maybe the results this weekend have highlighted that," said McCarthy. "There's nobody that good that they're going to keep winning games all season.''

After David Healy had spurned two decent opportunities for Leeds, he set up Aaron Lennon to put his hometown team ahead after a fine run that allowed the youngster to curl the ball past Thomas Myhre from just inside the penalty area. It was Lennon's first goal for Leeds.

Back came Sunderland and they equalised 13 minutes later through Liam Lawrence who sent Neil Sullivan the wrong way with a penalty kick after Matthew Spring fouled Dean Whitehead.

After the break, Sunderland looked on course for their ninth home victory of the season and Chris Brown saw a shot pushed wide by Sullivan before his header flashed just over seconds later.

It prompted the Sunderland fans in the 43,253 crowd – the second highest attendance of the day in England - to taunt their rivals with "Going down, going down".

They were silenced by Brian Deane's 61st-minute goal which saw Spring surge down the left wing before Healy delivered an inch-perfect cross. It allowed Deane to brush aside George McCartney and Myhre could only divert his header on to the underside of the bar.

Back came Sunderland again and in the 77th-minute Julio Arca almost equalised but his shot crashed against Sullivan's near post before substitute Stephen Elliott side-footed George McCartney's cross straight at the goalkeeper.

After Myhre had done well to tip away Healy's shot, another substitute, Julian Joachim, thumped Jermaine Wright's low cross past the Norwegian after 85 minutes.

Thousand of Sunderland fans had already vacated their seats when Julio Arca curled in a free kick past Sullivan in stoppage time.

"We showed steely determination and clinical finishing," said Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell.

Match Details
Sunderland (4-4-2): Myhre; Wright, Breen, Caldwell, McCartney; Lawrence (Stewart 81), Whitehead, Robinson, Arca; Bridges (Elliott 60), Brown. Subs: Alnwick (g), N Collins, Whitley. Goals: Lawrence (43 pen), Arca (90).

Leeds (4-5-1): Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Richardson; Lennon (Joachim 79), Spring, Wright, Pugh, Healy (Woods 90); Deane (Ricketts 86). Subs: Carson (g), Carlisle. Goals: Lennon (30), Deane (61), Joachim (85). Booked: Kelly, Butler.

Referee: R Beeby (Northants).

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