The Reds returned to their better line-up and returned to winning ways with relative comfort. Stephane Henchoz was dropped back to the bench and the midfield reverted to it's better and wider formation with the return of Michael Owen up front.
Steven Gerrard lost the toss and was forced to kick off towards the Kop in the first half. Paul Robinson applauded the Kop in old traditional style as he ran towards guarding the goal. Within a minute of the kick off David Batty announced his arrival in the game by clattering Vladimir Smicer.
The Reds started the game really brightly and had a corner inside two minutes as Heskey saw his header deflected just off goal. Leeds offered very little going forward and when they did they tried to channel it to the channels. Biscan however followed his marker all day and won a superb number of headers throughout the game although sometimes got in the way of Steve Finnan.
Kewell, Smicer and Riise were al looking very menacing going forward and it looked only a matter of time before the Reds would score. Kewell looked to get a shot in on goal on nine minutes but couldn't quite hit it away. The singing against him from Leeds fans was easily drowned out by the Reds throughout the ground with the abuse seemingly having no effect on him at all.
Leeds went rally close on seventeen minutes through Pennant but his cross-shot was deflected away for a corner with Dudek committed the other way. Steven Gerrard then went down in an injury worry on nineteen minutes as he took a bad knock within legal play. After a short spell of treatment the Reds skipper was back on the field of play and Murphy was forced to putting his trackie bottoms back on.
Midway through the half Heskey went close with a header and then a minute later Riise shot low and hard from distance but it was all to straight for Robinson who gathered the ball comfortably with Owen closing in for any rebound. A minute later and it was Smicer who could have had an opportunity but he took to long in the area and was beaten away for pace.
The Reds were building the pressure on Leeds who were finding it difficult to cope. The midfield dominance of the Reds allowed for a freer attacking line for the Reds and Riise went close again just after the half hour but his shot fizzed across the goal and out at the far post. Then on thirty four minute the Reds took the lead. Steven Gerrard whipped in a free kick to the are but it was cleared well. The loose ball was headed down to Biscan who swept a delightful ball over the defence for Riise to nod back down to Owen who took his time before hitting his shot left footed past Robinson to the back of the Kop net.
The goal really should have been the catalyst for a bigger win but just eight minutes later the visitor's were back on level terms through Alan Smith. Leeds swept the ball right and Pennant picked it up and ran at Riise who was sold all ends up. Riise couldn't get back as Pennant stormed on and he crossed to the six yard box were Alan Smith slid in ahead of Biscan who was as slow to react as Riise had been and the ball flew past Dudek.
The Reds came out after half time with the same side and again the same start to the half ensued as Batty clattered into Smicer. That hit would hamper Smicer who until then had recovered from the first knock and was playing well. Smicer went off on forty nine minutes and Danny Murphy completed his road to recovery following his recent knee injury.
Leeds produced a superb move on fifty two minutes and really should have taken the lead but all credit to Dudek who stood up well and saved Viduka's shot well with his feet. The warning sign was there and the Reds too due note as they pushed on again to get the win their play deserved.
That goal came in controversial circumstances on fifty seven minutes from Murphy. Riise made a run down the left and as he tried to whip the ball over Pennant the on-loan Gunner handled it. The free kick was awarded and the Reds ran to the area ready for a cross. Murphy had other ideas and as he ran up to the ball Leeds all ran out of the area for offside. The linesman flagged as much but Murphy had curled his shot directly at goal from the main stand side. Robinson fluffed the shot which ended up in the back of the net. An initial cheer went up, then the realisation of the flag being raised. But the ball went straight into the net didn't it? Referee Jeff Winter consulted his assistant before signalling the goal and the crowd could finally celebrate. Peter Reid and David Batty went ballistic. Reid was restrained and Batty booked just four minutes after the game restarted as he charged round like a bull in a china shop.
In the middle of all this happening Sinama-Pongolle (Pongo as we call him were we sit) was brought on for Michael Owen. The goal and it's circumstances seemed to wreck Leeds altogether as the Reds then coasted much of the latter play in the game with Pongolle going close to opening his Reds account on sixty seven minutes play. Pongolle was a new threat to Leeds as he raced around the front line not allowing Leeds to settle down.
The game was all but won really now although the threat of a single goal will always be there in a game Leeds really didn't look likely late on. The Reds continued to dominate the midfield battle and allow the Reds defence an easier day at the office. At times Steve Finnan did try to take things a little to easy and Riise looked very uncomfortable defending but the Reds can save their defending for better sides.
The Reds did get a third goal with five minutes left on the clock and it was from Pongolle that it came. Heskey missed a flick on but so did Leeds and Pongolle chased what seemed a lost cause but his pace took him past the last defender and to the ball before Robinson could collect as he shot the ball past the Leeds keeper into the back of the net for his first ever Reds senior goal.
The Reds ran out deserved winners on the day and despite the second goal being controversial it shouldn't deflect away from a decent performance. Players in the side were played in their natural positions and it showed as the excelled more compared to the out of position players of last week. Had the goal been at the other end I'm sure I would take a different opinion on it of course but it wasn't so who cares. This win if nothing else should just prove to the manager that play the players were they're supposed to play and it works. Why tamper with a working machine?
MotM : Emile Heskey - hard to pinpoint just one individual in this game really but Heskey for once did exactly what Heskey should do every week. He put himself about a bit more and when the 50-50 headers were there he charged through everyone and won them. Let's just hope it's not another of those flashes in the pan. Kewell and Smicer also played really well throughout their time on the pitch.