Mark Viduka’s brace secured a vital win for Leeds United as they won this relegation six-pointer against Fulham at Elland Road and leapfrogged their opponents in the process.

The Australian’s predatory instincts proved the difference between the two sides and Peter Reid’s men moved into fifteenth place – breathing a little easier having established a six-point cushion between themselves and the drop zone. Reid got the reaction he wanted after a disappointing defeat against Southampton as Leeds raced into a third minute lead. Fulham’s defenders allowed Viduka to head in Gary Kelly’s floated cross unattended – a dreadful mistake which Chris Coleman’s men never really looked like recovering from.

Viduka was very close to touching in an Ian Harte cross shortly afterwards and turned provider for Alan Smith after leading three Fulham defenders a merry dance. Zat Knight, who had replaced the injured Martin Djetou in another early reshuffle for Coleman, did well to read the danger and clear his lines. The visitors were a little lacklustre and didn’t test Paul Robinson in a low-key 45 minutes with their greatest threat coming from long-range efforts from Lee Clark and Sean Davis.

Leeds were lively at the start of the second period as they searched for the killer second goal. The tricky Harry Kewell almost provided it, tricking his way in the penalty area before whizzing a shot just wide of the far post. It was Kewell’s compatriot who started and ended the move that finished off Fulham three minutes after the interval. The striker sent Kewell scampering clear down the left flank and, although Maik Taylor blocked the winger’s shot, Viduka was on hand to fire home his nineteenth goal of the season from the rebound.

Kewell rattled the woodwork late on as Fulham’s defenders tired but a relieved Reid was pleased to record his second win since taking over from Terry Venables with the Yorkshire outfit in real danger of relegation.

LEEDS UNITED (4-4-2): Robinson, Kelly, Duberry, Mills, Harte, Kewell, Bakke, Matteo, Wilcox, Viduka, Smith. Subs (not used): Martyn, Bravo, Barmby, Kilgallon, S. Johnson.

GOALS: Viduka (3, 48).

FULHAM (4-5-1): Taylor; Finnan, Harley, Melville, Djetou (Knight 10); Davis, Clark, Legwinski, Inamoto (Hayles 45), Boa Morte; Hammond. Subs (not used): Herrera, Collins, Sava.

BOOKED: Boa Morte, Hayles.

REFEREE: Neale Barry (North Lincolnshire).