Sunday, 12 December 2010


United manager Simon Grayson made two changes to his starting line-up. Paul Connolly returned in place of Andrew Hughes after serving a one match suspension, and Neill Collins was back at centre-half after injury to Andy O'Brien.
Burnley, unbeaten at home so far this season, were unchanged from the side which beat Derby County last time out at Turf Moor.The home side were rewarded with their biggest crowd of the season, but it was United who had first sight of goal inside the opening two minutes when Max Gradel fired just wide. Burnley responded immediately and a combination of Bradley Johnson and Alex Bruce cut out a low cross.
Jay Rodriguez also sent a shot wide from distance for the home side in the seventh minute as the game got off to a lively start. Kasper Schmeichel was also called upon to collect a curling free-kick from Ross Wallace after Johnson was penalised for a foul on the edge of the box.
Shortly before the quarter-hour, Rob Snodgrass picked out Gradel with a lovely ball and the winger's chipped finish was just the wrong side of the bar. Gradel, who again skipped past Tyrone Mears, also sent a shot the wrong side of the upright after working himself an opening.
As the game headed towards the half-hour, it was Schmeichel who was called upon again, this time to save from Chris Iwelumo, but from the resultant corner Burnley scored. Andre Bikey's bullet header was blocked on the line, but Brian Easton reacted well to hook the ball into the roof of the net.
Bikey also tried his luck with an ambitious drive from a free-kick moments later, although Schmeichel had it covered as the shot went wide.
It was United who were next to go close when after Luciano Becchio won a corner, Collins steered Snodgrass's delivery just wide of the mark.
But it was 2-0 to the hosts on 37 minutes. Rodriguez set off in pursuit of a ball over the top and when Bruce slipped giving chase, the Burnley man was able to hammer the ball past Schmeichel.
It was a disappointing goal to give away so close to half-time and left United facing an uphill task in the second period.
United's intentions were clear immediately after the re-start with Grayson's men charging forward from the off in a bid to get a foothold back in the contest.
And that foothold came in the 52nd minute when Snodgrass sent a looping cross into the box, Becchio headed back to Gradel, who was in space, and the winger hammered the ball home to make it 2-1.
That scoreline was in danger again within four minutes, though, when Iwelumo wasted a great chance when he headed wide from close range.
Tempers were also fraying on the pitch and Johnson appeared to be harshly booked following a challenge on the hour mark. Grayson made his first change shortly after, Ross McCormack coming on for Neil Kilkenny.
And it was 2-2 on 66 minutes when Becchio slotted home a Paul Connolly cross. Howson and Connolly had linked up well before Becchio slid in to convert the cross.
Within two minutes, United were almost in front, Johnson smashing a shot just wide of the post after some more good play by Leeds. Leeds were now pushing for ascendancy in the game and with over 4,000 travelling fans roaring at the back of the goal Grayson's side were attacking, it was very much game on.
And Snodgrass almost put United ahead when he cut in from the right and curled a shot against the bar which home goalkeeper Lee Grant could only watch.
The Scot was also instrumental moments later when McCormack met his pull-back, but was denied by the block of a Burnley defender.
It was United who were really pushing as the game entered its final 15 minutes, and McCormack had another effort blocked following a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Schmeichel was called upon to make one punched clearance, but it was United who were looking to the most likely to force a winner.
That winner looked like it had come in the 85th minute when Jonny Howson broke from midfield. Howson was able to advance on goal with no willing tackler before picking his spot to tuck the ball home.
Howson raced to the delirious Leeds fans as a fabulous comeback appeared to be complete with five minutes remaining.
Chorusus of "Jingle Bells" and "You should have gone Christmas shopping" were ringing around the away end as the frustrated home fans started to head for the exits.
Indeed, it was almost 4-2 with less than two minutes remaining. McCormack had a shot blocked and Snodgrass's follow-up header was over the bar.
Five minutes of added time gave the home side one final incentive and after Johnson made one great block, Thompson wasted a good header.
Deep into stoppage time Schmeichel made a great save to deny Guidetti and that was the home side's final chance as United went on to record a terrific away victory to keep up the pressure on the leading pack in the division.

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