Matteo hits late winner as Leeds show mettle

Leeds United 3 Fulham 2

A goal three minutes from time, scored appropriately by their inspirational captain, Dominic Matteo, gave Leeds their best result of a troubled season at the end of a compelling second half at Elland Road.

Leeds looked to have squandered their chance of an uplifting victory over the side which ranks as the best-of-the-rest in the two-tier Premiership when their goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, allowed Louis Saha's shot under his body for the French striker's second goal after 85 minutes. But then Ian Harte floated in a free-kick from the right and Matteo got his head to it for what could be a most significant goal.

"They showed a lot of belief in themselves to win the game and we thoroughly deserved it over the 90 minutes,'' said the man charged with turning Leeds' fortunes around, Eddie Gray. "While there's time left in football you've still got a chance. I thought all the players were tremendous today."

There was little sign of what was to come in a generally inept display from both sides in a first half which threatened to produce something better only when Leeds probed down the right flank. It always looked a potentially productive area for them, but too often their approach work was ruined by a poor final delivery, as when Gary Kelly released Jermaine Pennant with a raking through-ball only for Pennant to overhit his cross. At least Leeds were looking solid enough in defence, with Matteo providing extra insurance by playing in front of the back four.

Five minutes before half-time, Harte made his first major contribution from a dead-ball situation and Leeds profited. Luis Boa Morte was adjudged to have brought down Alan Smith with a lunging tackle just outside the area. Harte took a wickedly curling free-kick and Edwin van der Sar punched it straight out on to Michael Duberry, who could hardly have got out of the way if he had wanted to.

Given that unexpected fillip, the game picked up markedly in the second half. After only 46 seconds, Mark Viduka had doubled Leeds' advantage. There was no apparent danger when he took the ball with his back to goal and ran across the fringe of the penalty area but he lashed it in for his first goal since 30 August. Just as quickly, the lead was halved when Saha took Sean Davis's pass and drifted through a defence which had allowed its collective mind to wander, and slid his shot past Robinson for his 10th goal of the season.

Robinson had to be at his very best to prevent Saha from equalising with a hooked effort from Davis's corner, then Pennant hit the bar and Matteo put one over after a goalmouth scramble. Pennant also had a long-range effort deflected on to the bar as the game continued to reach boiling point before Saha came up with his second. Matteo then quickly retrieved the situation for Leeds, who remain in the bottom two but with renewed confidence in their ability to climb the table.

Gray, however, knows that the turmoil within the club may not be over yet. "We've got a long way to go, but we can look at the table now and see that there are other teams around us and we're not adrift," he said.

Goals: Duberry (41) 1-0; Viduka (46) 2-0; Saha (47) 2-1; (86) 2-2; Matteo (88) 3-2.

Leeds United (4-1-3-2): Robinson 5; Kelly 5, Duberry 6, Radebe 6, Harte 6; Matteo 8; Pennant 7, Batty 5, Milner 7; Smith 6, Viduka 7. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Morris, Bridges, McPhail, Richardson.

Fulham (4-4-1-1): Van der Sar 6; Volz 5 (Hayles 5, 63), Knight 6, Melville 6, Harley 5; Malbranque 7, Legwinski 6, Davis 7, Boa Morte 5 (Sava, 77); Clark 6; Saha 7. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Djetou, Goma.

Referee: N Barry (Lincolnshire) 6.

Bookings: Leeds: Smith, Batty; Fulham: Boa Morte.

Man of the match: Matteo.

Attendance: 30,544.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride