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JD leads us to victory

A Jermain Defoe hat-trick at Elland Road saw the team to a 3-1 victory over Leeds United in Wednesday night's FA Cup fourth round replay.

A Jermain Defoe hat-trick at Elland Road saw the team to a 3-1 victory over Leeds United in Wednesday night's FA Cup fourth round replay.

Leeds did level just before the break in what was an absorbing contest, but the team asserted control in the second half and a further two goals did justice to a fine performance that books us a trip to Bolton in round five of the competition on Sunday, February 14.

There were a few half-chances early on with Defoe predictably in the thick of the action in what was a real full-blooded, old fashioned cup tie.

He flashed one effort just wide and found himself clean through on 24 minutes, latching onto Tom Huddlestone's pass, leaving just Casper Ankergren to beat. The goalkeeper got enough in the way to divert for a corner.

Niko Kranjcar then strode forward with intent and slipped left to the galloping Gareth Bale. The left-back's low cross took a wicked deflection goalwards and Ankergren stooped just enough to prevent an opener. A Jermain Jenas dash and seemingly precise pass across the penalty area did not meet with the stride pattern of the advancing Peter Crouch.

Defoe had a strong penalty shout after speeding through again just after the half-hour mark. He appeared to be felled by Lubomir Michalik but referee Mr Marriner was only crossing the halfway line at the time so was not in a position to award anything.

Defoe went on to test the reflexes of Ankergren again with a fierce drive from the edge of the area, but on 36 minutes the deadlock was broken. David Bentley embarked on a powerful surge down the right and switched inside to the little striker, who took a heavy touch before half-hitting a shot that spun into the top corner leaving Ankergren with no chance.

Heurelho Gomes then produced a spectacular flying save to deny a Michalik header following a set piece from the right flank. Bradley Johnson drilled in a low effort that Gomes fielded cleanly and eased a spell of home pressure.

Just after the announcement of one minute of added time the ball was chipped into the path of Jermaine Beckford inside the area and the much talked about striker latched onto the ball and forced Gomes into a save. The ball, however, only ran into the path of Luciano Becchio, who happily slammed home a leveller to great joy around Elland Road.

Defoe flashed a shot narrowly over the bar in the opening minutes of the second half, before kicking air when Bentley cut back to him. Kranjcar seized on the loose ball and drilled across goal where Crouch was waiting to connect, but missed the target.

Ankergren - hero of the initial tie at the Lane - produced a fine save to turn away a flicked Michael Dawson header from a Bentley corner just before the hour, while Huddlestone smashed wide a Jenas lay-off three minutes later.

Bentley surged forward and unleashed a fierce shot that Ankergren managed to tip over the bar as a grip was being taken on the game possession-wise.

On 67 minutes Kranjcar picked out the run of Bale, who cleverly threaded a ball across goal beyond Ankergren to where Defoe was waiting to slot home but, as celebrations were about to kick in, the assistant's flag put a stop to it.

There were no such restrictions on 73 minutes when Bentley fizzed in a low cross and the Little Hitman was there to steer home in front of goal in front of the travelling thousands.

A superbly flighted Bale cross was headed onto the bar by Crouch with six minutes left on the clock.

There were four minutes of stoppage time and in the third minute of this a Leeds move broke down and Defoe sped clear, rounded the retreating Ankergren and slotted into the net to complete a fine night's work for the team.