Football: FA Cup 5th Round: Tale of Hasselbaink

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 3

Wallace 5, Hasselbaink 28, 87

Birmingham City 2

Ablett 63, Ndlovu 81

Attendance: 35,463

LEEDS' progress in the FA Cup had been serene and it went smoothly yesterday for an hour of their third consecutive home tie against First Division opposition. They glided into a two-goal lead but a remarkable revival from Birmingham meant it took a last gasp winner from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to scrape George Graham's side into the sixth round.

Leeds rode Birmingham's early pressure to slip ahead in the fifth minute. Harry Kewell fed Rod Wallace down the left and he outpaced Gary Ablett before clinically driving his 12th goal of the season across Ian Bennett.

Although Birmingham's neat approach play unsettled Leeds' defence in which Gary Kelly played centrally, and the visitors inswinging corners had Nigel Martyn back-pedalling furiously, the Premiership side were in control. In the 26th minute Hasselbaink nudged Ablett from beneath a high ball. He nodded on to Wallace whose wicked shot deflected off Steve Bruce's shin but Bennett just managed to get his leg in the way.

A minute later the same Leeds players combined again. This time it was decisive. Hasselbaink's dummy wrong-footed Birmingham and presented Wallace with the ball. He toe-ended it past the desperate slide of Ablett into the Surinam player's path. Now inside the area, Hasselbaink hammered home his 17th of the season.

Leeds could have gone further ahead in the 58th minute when Wallace nodded Gunnar Halle's header on to the underside of the bar. The ball bounced down on to Bennett's neck which probably over the line before ricocheting to safety.

Birmingham's defence was further threatened when a Leeds supporter ran on to the pitch to berate Bruce. With play continuing around the ignorant intruder Alf-Inge Haaland threw him to the dirt.

The incident rallied Birmingham. Two minutes later their eighth threatening corner was swung over by John McCarthy. Ablett headed goalwards and this time Haaland's intervention was unsuccessful.

In a grandstand finish Wallace hooked Haaland's cross wide when it seemed easier to score, and Peter Ndlovu found the back of the net from 30 yards when it seemed easier for Martyn to save. Blase to the danger, the England keeper dived half-heartedly and Ndlovu's shot bounced beneath him.

But Hasselbaink's header won the day for Leeds.

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