Leeds relegated after 4-1 defeat at Bolton

Leeds United's hopes of survival in the English Premiership disappeared on Sunday after a 4-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Leeds United's hopes of survival in the English Premiership disappeared on Sunday, as a 1-0 half-time lead turned into a 4-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers that, barring a miracle, has sent them down. With two games remaining, Leeds are six points behind Manchester City but more than 30 adrift in the goal difference comparison, and thus are certainties for relegation. The sun was shining at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday, although the outlook was gloomy for Leeds' hopes of Premiership survival. Six points from safety, a vastly inferior goal difference - and just three games remaining. So, realistically, only a win would do. Contentious penalty They were thanking their good fortune when a highly contentious penalty decision went their way in the 26th minute. Alan Smith went to ground after minimal contact with Emerson Thome. Steve Bennet pointed to the spot. Thome was dumbfounded - justifiably, on the evidence of replays. Leeds weren't complaining, though, and Mark Viduka buried the spot-kick emphatically. His side had been the beneficiaries of one dubious piece of refereeing. So perhaps Steve Bennet felt it would only be fair to even things up. He showed an incredulous Viduka a second yellow card, for a purported elbow in the face of Bruno N'Gotty. Barely a minute into the second half, and at a point in the game when Leeds needed to stand firm, Bolton netted the equaliser. Youri Djorkaeff's attempted back heel did not come off, only for the ball to run kindly back into his path. And he scored from an acute angle. Bolton rebound Bolton's former French international did not take long to add a second, as in the 54th minute he fired home a rebound after Paul Robinson had twice parried from Nicky Hunt. And, barely 90 seconds later, Wanderers made it 3-1, courtesy of an Ian Harte own-goal. The Irish defender watched helplessly as he deflected Simon Charlton's cross into the net. It was already all over for Leeds, but Kevin Nolan grabbed a fourth for good measure in the 78th minute after a sublime through ball from Okocha. So, barring a mathematical miracle, Leeds are down after 14 years in the top flight. The tears that flowed among their fans told the story of a proud club, whose startling transition from European heroes to relegation fodder is now complete, in the space of just three short years. (AP)