With Derby already relegated and Leeds unable to improve on a guaranteed qualification for the Uefa Cup, this was never likely to be a match pulsating with raw excitement and a near full-house were probably fortunate to see the two sides manage even one goal.
In the event, they witnessed one of some quality from Lee Bowyer after 16 minutes, consigning Derby to a seventh consecutive defeat. There was concern, however, after a first-half injury to Robbie Fowler threatened to create another headache for England coach Sven Goran Eriksson.
Fowler was hurt just as Leeds were celebrating the goal by Bowyer that put them in front. Trying to keep the ball in play on the left touchline, the former Liverpool striker fell awkwardly, stubbing his foot in the turf. He landed inside the Derby technical area and it was clearly in some pain as the concerned Leeds coach Brian Kidd leaned over him.
Already without Mark Viduka, who has an ankle injury, Leeds had to send on Robbie Keane in place of Fowler, although the early goal by Bowyer had put them in a comfortable position.
It was a fine goal, too, both in its creation and execution, stemming from a superbly delivered overhead pass by Alan Smith into the path of Bowyer, who sprinted into vacant space on the right as a Derby attack broke down. Fowler offered the option of a pass inside as the home side struggled to regroup but the Leeds midfielder made the right choice in going for goal himself and finished with a perfectly judged chip over the advancing Mart Poom.
Derby should have been awarded a penalty a minute afterwards when Rio Ferdinand impeded Branko Strupar as the Derby striker shaped to shoot. …