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Is it a measure of how our standards have risen that we're not happy with a 4-2 win in Europe? Or is it just that we're football fans and so never satisfied with anything?
Tickets nice and cheap - but with only half the turnstiles open it looked like we'd be pushed to see half the game. Just made it in to the ground in time - and it's just as well we did. From the off their defence looked shaky, but going forward they were confident, passed the ball well and directed just about everything through their experienced number 8, Samuel Boutal. They'd had one half-decent attack, when they let Mark Viduka run at their defence (yep, that's "Viduka" and "run" in the same sentence without the words "why didn't" beforehand). He found enough space for a shot and picked his spot perfectly - the ball was in the bottom corner and we were all thinking that this was going to be another Besiktas.
Despite the fact that their defence was slack, their keeper acquitted himself well - and showed good pace and awareness to get off his line a couple of times, and also pulled off some good shot blocks from efforts by Viduka and Keane. Just when the crowd was starting to get a bit restless, Leeds scored again. A long throw from Harte reached Vidooks in the area - his shot was blocked, but Bowyer's follow-up went through a crowd of legs to make it 2-0. We were coasting.
Ten minutes later, we could have been looking at a 2-2 scoreline. Loko's diagonal run wasn't picked up properly by Matteo, and when Goussé found him, Nige came to close the striker down, only to be rounded and see the ball slipped back into the empty net. The a free kick from 30 yards almost repeated the Maritimo mess-up: nobody made any contact, it bounced in front of Nige and off his knees. Rio just about managed to avoid walking the ball back into the goal - but this was a wake-up call for both the crowd and the players.
Perfect timing saw the lead restored just before half-time: Keane did well to find himself some space on the right and flicked in a nearpost cross. Bowyer flicked it on, and although Viduka looked offside in realtime, the replay seemed to show he was level when he headed the ball home. After the break, we'd barely had time to get back to our seats with a fresh pie when we made it 4-1. Bowyer's run took him through a crowd of defenders, and although the ball fell to Vidooks on the other side, his shot was blocked and Bowyer got back on his feet to make the shot.
The Troyes defence had done little right all game, and was frequently found chasing the shadows of Keane and Kewell, so maybe there was more than a bit of frustration creeping in when Meniri found himself under pressure - maybe even pulled a bit - by Viduka. The defender threw his arm back, the Aussie went down and there were few protests as the ref got out his red card. So, we're 3 up against 10 men with 40 minutes to go. It can only get better, can't it?
Wrong again. The dismissal was the signal for the Leeds midfield to go home. Bowyer, Bakke and Kewell barely touched the ball for the rest of the night, and Keane and Viduka found themselves starved of service. Only a couple of runs from defence by Rio and Danny-Mills-is-f***ing-brilliant looked like producing chances. Batts replaced Bakke and looked tired and was lucky not to be booked. Bowyer did get a booking for a pointless tackle in the middle of the park, and still we coasted. Smith for Keane - and although he looked eager to score he was still short of match fitness. But we were playing against 10 men - surely someone would score.
Someone did score - it was Loko again. Olly ran in to DMIFB, they broke clear down their left, swung in a great cross and Loko was first to the ball at the near post. Two-goal margin - good. Two away goals - bad.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 19/10/2001.
The English have not had so much fun out of Troyes since King Henry V signed a treaty in their cathedral to become heir to the throne of France. Henry never quite managed it, dying before the deed was done, but at Elland Road last night the bells rang jubilantly for a freewheeling Leeds display which, with more clinical finishing, should have put the tie beyond reach.
Mark Viduka and Lee Bowyer both scored twice as Leeds led 4-1 by the 46th minute, but Patrice Loko's second goal of the night, a tap-in nine minutes from time, gave the French hope for the second leg.
Although Leeds's two-goal lead inspires confidence, they cannot be crowned just yet.
Copy from The Independent of 18/10/2001.
A potentially precious away goal by Patrice Loko ensured that the 10 men of Troyes made Leeds United pay for easing up after they had established a 4-1 lead immediately after half-time in last night's Uefa Cup second round, first leg match at Elland Road.
The side from the Champagne region of France looked ripe for routing when Mehdi Meniri was sent off soon after Lee Bowyer matched Mark Viduka by netting his second goal. But Leeds, after a vintage first-half display, began playing as if saving themselves for Sunday's visit by Chelsea and were punished with eight minutes remaining when Loko converted Jerome Rothen's centre for his second goal.
Seth Johnson, having completed his £7m transfer from Derby, must have been wondering how he would ever break into the Premiership leaders' line-up when he was introduced to the crowd at half-time. Bowyer and Viduka had been irrepressible, and were heavily involved in each other's goals, though the Australian is likely to wonder how he failed at least to match last year's four-goal feat against Liverpool.
In the build-up to Leeds' opener, after six minutes, Bowyer dispossessed Samuel Boutal and slipped the ball into Viduka's imposing stride. He waltzed past two defenders before powering his first home goal of the season past Tony Heurtebis.
Troyes no doubt reminded themselves of their trip to England in August. Facing Newcastle in the InterToto Cup, they conceded even earlier, went 4-1 up and drew 4-4 to win on away goals. This time, however, Heurtebis had to excel to prevent Viduka and Robbie Keane adding to their lead before Bowyer actually did so in the 26th minute.
When Viduka muscled through a challenge following Ian Harte's throw-in, the ball broke for Bowyer to sweep in a first-time shot from 12 yards.
Leeds looked capable of scoring with virtually every attack at that point. No sooner had Viduka unwittingly cleared a goalbound header by Eirik Bakke than Nicolas Gousse's dreadful pass gave him a chance to chip Heurtebis, only for the Troyes keeper to intercept his shot.
Before the half-hour, Troyes' only threat had been a 25-yard drive by Guarib Amzine which Nigel Martyn pushed behind after 70 seconds. From their second they scored, Loko gliding on to Gousse's through ball before rounding Martyn.
Leeds restored their two-goal lead after 44 minutes. Keane cleverly made space for a cross from the right which Bowyer glanced on. Viduka headed in at the far post as Troyes appealed, with justification, for an offside flag.
After studying the replay on the giant screen, the French coach Alain Perrin mimed to the linesman that he must have been asleep. His defenders were also caught napping 47 seconds into the second half, Bowyer reacting fastest in a crowded area after Viduka's shot rebounded off Heurtebis.
Three minutes later, Meniri, an Algerian International, swung an elbow into the face of the ubiquitous Viduka as they tussled for the ball, prompting the Spanish referee to reach straight for the red card.
The carnival mood which had been sweeping the stadium should have been enhanced when Viduka was put through by Harry Kewell only to bludgeon the ball into the sidenetting. The danger of complacency was underlined when Rothen's shot was cleared off the line by Rio Ferdinand, but Loko's opportunism proved the warning went unheeded.
David O'Leary, the Leeds manager, was unsure whether to laugh or cry afterwards. "I was impressed with us up to the fourth goal, but we stopped playing when they went down to 10," he said. "The tie remains very much alive."
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 19/10/2001.
A LATE strike from Gallic international Patrice Loko threw this tie wide open as Leeds failed to finish off the resistant French.
With 80 minutes gone of the UEFA Cup second round first leg clash United were seemingly cruising to an emphatic 4-1 victory.
Their brilliant attacking display had been far too much for the boys from Troyes and with time running out it seemed as though David O'Leary's side would enjoy a simple route in to the next round.
But Loko, a member of France's Euro 96 squad, pounced with eight minutes remaining to volley his second goal of the night and set up an intriguing second leg. It was really no more than the visitors deserved after Leeds had inexplicably taken their foot off the accelerator.
In truth the match should have been over by half-time as Mark Viduka led raid after United raid on the French goal. How they only scored three is a mystery, but the fact that Viduka managed to notch two of them is a relief.
The burly hit-man had been enduring something of a lean spell in front of goal and to see him snatch a double was just fantastic.
When Bowyer added to his first half strike within the opening minute of the second half everyone inside Elland Road expected United to go on and smash six or even seven - they were certainly capable of doing so.
And when defender Medhi Meniri was shown the red card for an elbow on man-of-the-match Viduka there seemed to be no doubt United would rack up the goals.
However, the French are made of sterner stuff and took advantage of a United side who were then happy to settle for what they had.
Leeds boss O'Leary was not overly impressed: "I was really happy with our performance up until we scored the fourth goal and then we stopped playing really," he said. "Coming in at half-time with only a 3-1 lead was disappointing because I thought, with the chances we had, we should have had more goals.
"Then we go out in the second half and start tremendously with Lee Bowyer's goal. But we stopped and I am sure the Troyes coach will be delighted because this tie should have been finished on the number of clear-cut chances we had. We should have buried them.
"In two weeks time we shall go over there and I'd expect my team to have the quality about them to score goals and win the game, but I always believe that if you have a team by the throat then you look to finish them off. We did not do that."
But O'Leary praised the performance of Troyes and predicted that there would be no easy passage through in a fortnight.
"They are a good side," he said. "They've worked very hard and they never stop running. It's going to be a tough game out there, I can assure you.
"They may not be a top name with many famous players but they are coached well and they certainly played well when they were down to 10 men. We know that the tie is still very much alive."
The visitors had been put under the cosh right from the start. Viduka was straight into his stride and almost had the ball in the back of the net within four minutes as a Robbie Keane cross was fumbled by Tony Heurtebis, but the Aussies' effort was blocked.
It only took a further two minutes, however, for him to break the deadlock with only his third goal of the campaign. Picking the ball up 30 yards from goal he shimmied past three defenders before crashing a low right foot drive past Heurtebis from the edge of the box. It was a truly quality strike.
He could have doubled the lead in the 13th minute as Ian Harte played him in for another chance. This time however, he let the ball get under his feet and despite attempting a Cruyff-style flick his effort was saved by the keeper.
United continued their dominance as Robbie Keane saw a low drive palmed around the post by Heurtebis and then Eirik Bakke's net-bound header cannoned against Viduka and to safety.
However, he made amends moments later when he created the second goal of the night.
Picking up a Harte throw from the left he turned goalward and prepared to pull the trigger. Frederic Danjou made a late challenge and the deflection fell to Bowyer who buried a left foot effort in the bottom corner.
Elland Road was rocking and the anticipation of a walk-over was washing over the delighted supporters. However, they were in for a shock as within minutes Troyes hit back with the first goal scored by any opposition at Elland Road this season.
Loko managed to evade the attentions of Dominic Matteo and latch onto a neat pass from Nicolas Gousse before rounding Nigel Martyn and rolling the ball into the empty net.
For a few minutes the French side were on the up and could so easily have found themselves on level terms.
Jerome Rothen's long, looping, free-kick in the 42nd minute missed everyone before dropping just in front of Martyn. The Leeds keeper made a decent stop with his legs to give away a corner and was then even more delighted to tip a flashing header from Boutal just over the bar.
Leeds took full advantage and within a minute they were 3-1 ahead.
Keane's trickery down the right created space for him to cross, Bowyer flicked the ball on to the far post and Viduka was on hand to nod in his second of the night.
When Bowyer added his second within a minute of the restart it seemed game set and match for the tie let alone the home fixture.
Holding off two defenders, Bowyer played Viduka in on goal, he himself had to battle through to get his shot on target and when his effort was blocked by Heurtebis, it was Bowyer who followed it up to power a drive over the line.
Leeds then settled down into a tidy pattern of play which saw them create a host of chances and keep the French at arms length.
Viduka had countless opportunities to finish his hat-trick but could not quite find that killer touch, firing one effort into the side netting and another inches wide. Even Danny Mills tried to get in on the scoring act as he broke down the right only to see Heurtebis block his effort.
Alan Smith was introduced for the final 20 minutes, his first home appearance since scoring on the opening day of the campaign against Southampton. But not even he could add to the United tally.
Instead it was Loko who once again proved his class with a neat volley at the near post to set up a real tantaliser in two weeks time.