FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 2 - 1 Sunderland
(Half-time: 0 - 1)
|« Manchester United||Liverpool »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Mills, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Hopkin, Batty, Bowyer, Kewell, Huckerby, Bridges (Smith 58)||Kelly, McPhail, Duberry, Robinson|
|Sunderland||Sorensen, Makin, Helmer, Butler (Quinn 73), Gray (Holloway 63), Summerbee, Schwarz, Rae, Ball (Dichio 90), McCann, Phillips||Oster, Marriott|
|Leeds United||Bowyer 52, Mills 71||Kewell missed pen|
|Sunderland||Philips pen 38|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Batty 41, Harte 43|
|Sunderland||Butler 1, Helmer 17, Schwarz 29, Rae 39, Ball 57, Quinn 88||Rae 42|
|Attempts on goal||29||12|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||11, 18||?|
|Jabba||A Game of Two Halves|
|Martyn Brown||View from the West Stand|
|The Guardian||Reality bites for exposed Sunderland|
|The Observer||Leeds triumph as battle rages|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Mills ends Sunderland hopes|
|The Times||Sunderland struggle to bridge the class divide|
|The Sunday Times||Rae sees red as Leeds prosper|
|The Independent on Sunday||Mill's boon kills off 10 men|
|The Independent||Leeds strike ability scrutinised|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Referee takes centre stage as United fight back in style|
|BBC||Mills makes Rae pay|
|Soccernet||Leeds United 2 - 1 Sunderland|
|Carlingnet||Leeds United 2 - 1 Sunderland|
First, a word of semi-thanks to Great North Eastern Railways. Without them, I'd be a much richer, less environmentally-friendly man. Without them, I'd miss out on such life-enhancing experiences as being stuck in Peterborough for 2 hours. To be fair, they - or at least the excellent crew on the train on Saturday - did manage to have free buses to Elland Road waiting within yards of Leeds station when we finally got there.
I missed the first 10 minutes of the match - and as a result the first booking - I'm told it was a two-footed "Hello mate" jump on Michael Bridges. As expected, Sunderland came with a packed midfield and were determined to cling on to a point. Games between Leeds and Sunderland are seldom friendly affairs, and this was no exception - the challenge on Bridges was the first of many, with Lee Bowyer also the target of several late hacks. With Batty and Bowyer on our side of course, Leeds weren't totally blame-free in this department, but I'll cling to my biased views for a while longer if you don't mind.
Although Sunderland's tactics succeeded in stopping Leeds from adopting the pattern of play they wanted, there was no hiding the fact that Leeds were by far the better side. Certainly they had the best chances - with Huckerby hitting the ball straight at the goalie after he'd latched on to a poor back pass. Coming up to the half-hour mark, Leeds had the ball in the back of the net, but the linesman's flag was waving: it was obvious from where we were sitting he'd got it badly wrong and the replay on the big screen served to confirm the fact. Seconds later, Sunderland attacked and were miles offside - but the (other) linesman again made a terrible mistake and let play continue.
With half-time approaching, Kevin Phillips got goal-side of Radebe. Lucas caught up to him, but then tangled with his trailing leg. Phillips went down as if he'd been shot and stepped up to slot the penalty. For some reason, the ref (Paul Alcock - the idiot involved in the Di Canio affair) decided that Radebe shouldn't receive a card of any colour. But Phillips was clean through on goal, so either it should have been a red card or it shouldn't have been a penalty - but Alcock decided otherwise.
The Sunderland fans - who occupied pretty much the whole of the South Stand and South East corner - were a pretty noisy bunch who gave their team good support throughout (but why did we give them so many tickets?). They were happy, and they cheered a minute later when Alex Rae scythed into a challenge and got a yellow card. Three minutes later, Rae challenged Bowyer well after the ball had gone. Rae didn't really deserve a booking for this one - Bowyer made the most of it, but since he'd been fouled and seen nobody punished several times before, they can't complain too much when Rae's 2nd yellow card was inevitably followed by a red.
Half-time comedy: Alcock and his linesman getting a security escort off the pitch. If he's really lost his bottle that much, he should give up now.
Leeds have not had a good record against 10 men, but the difference in class and numbers really started to tell in the 2nd half. Huckerby again set up some good chances, as did David Hopkin. But too often the great teamwork that created the openings turned into narrow vision as the goal loomed, and several chances were wasted.
In the end, Sunderland cracked quicker than I'd thought they would. 5 minutes into the 2nd half, Bowyer sent Huckerby away, and when the new man's shot was block, he snapped up the rebound. Leeds charged on, and another poorly executed chance brought about the winner, this time scrambled home by the excellent Danny Mills.
Alan Smith had replaced Bridges for the last half hour, and won a penalty as he was hacked while running across the area. I thought Ian Harte was supposed to take these, but Harry Kewell showed the same composure as he's shown in two other games this season when he was one-on-one with the goalie. Sorenson did make a good save, but you've got to take these chances.
So, 2-1 and our long unbeaten home League run against Sunderland continues. Good points: Danny Mills impresses me more every game, Bowyer driving things on and getting involved all over the park, Bridges and Smith looking sharp and eager. Bad points: poor finishing continues to dog us, David Hopkin needs to improve the consistency of his play (brilliant in parts, but with his lack of pace, better vision and faster thought are needed), and whatever else Leeds' management can do, they still can't make the trains run on time.
Thoroughly enjoyed satdi, althought I could do without that amount of tension at 5mins x.time - we couldn't see the display and people were muttering it was 6 or 7mins (someone said 8 to a chorus of 'bollocks') and it didnt help that the scoreboard didnt display the time, it usually does.
Onto the game and it's points.
We came out right at them for 10mins (it appears to me that this is the strategy, especially against visiting teams playing deep, trying to get a goal to force them out or to loosen up). They then had 5-10mins of getting into the game before Leeds started to dominate, although our midfield was questionable, with Hopkin in particular man-marking rather than taking the game to Sunderland.
Huckerby and Kewell caused problems (as they did all day) and Bridges looked excellent - I've every hope for him, he's got a lot up his sleeve. It seemed a matter of when we'd score, not if.
Bridges "goal" was a shocker at the time, it looked no problem - MOTD cameras show it was -just- offside, but I've seen many of those given without problem. It wouldn't have been so bad if they hadn't replayed it on the screen (I thought they had not to do that in cases of questioned decisions?) or if the penalty to Sunderland was given a minute later. As for us having "striker problems" - he's got 3 in 3.5 games and 2 disallowed... no need for panic just yet.
Their penalty - 50/50, Phillips massively exaggerated what was slight, if any contact - but all strikers do it. Sometimes they're given, sometimes they're not. I didn't agree with the decision, but I have a vested interest.
The sending off. I thought the ref initially tried to put a block on the game from the off since I had a feeling it would get vicious, they always tend to against Sunderland. The attack on Bridges after 30secs was typical. Anyway, after 15-20mins you just knew someone would end up going off as there was lots of off-the-ball stuff going on, niggles and 2-footed challenges. Bowyer over-emphasised the challenge from Rae (about 15mins after he'd got rid of the ball) - but to be fair, Rae's challenge was stupid to say the least. In terms of consistancey, he had to go.
At HT, it was disappointing to be 1-0 down since we'd had the majority of the play and I assumed they'd do the usual 10-man team act and just sit on the game.
Fortunately we came out as a real force in the 2nd, with Hopkin in particular grabbing the game by the throat.
Leeds lay seige on the Sunderland goal and it was a matter of when and how many, it was that obvious. Attack after attack. The midfield was inspired (Batty was brilliant and showed excellence in his distribution) and with all of them ticking (Bowyer esp.) it meant lots of fodder for Huckerby and Kewell to cause problem after problem.
Nothing sensational about the goals, fairly messy, but thats how the Sunderland defence were, playing deep and defending in numbers - certainly no number of 1 on 1 breaks. Harte had a screamer come back off the angle, with the keeper rooted to the spot. Smith had one disallowed, which looked like it could have been given any other day. Then Smith got brought down (where was the booking for that tackle, which was blatant?) and as soon as Kewell got the ball, it was obvious what was going to happen.
For my ten-penneth, I think penalties should go to Mills or Harte (I know he missed one) since they have the best shots from dead-ball, unless we sign someone else. Anyway, it mattered not.
2-1 was always a bit dodgy in the last 5 mins and to be fair to us and Sunderland, 4-1 would have probably been a reasonably accurate scoreline, on another day it could have been 8.
Martyn: Little to do, but what he did was competent. 7/10
Harte: Great shot, but a quiet game, not too much defending to do. 6/10
Radabe: Should have dealt with Phillips better for the penalty. 6/10
Woodgate: Quiet game, but did little wrong. 6/10
Mills: Not his best game, but got stronger as game went on. 6/10
BATTY: Controlled midfield. Good distribution. Excellent workrate. 9/10
Bowyer: Got forward well, eclipsed by Batty. 8/10
Hopkin: Anonymous 1st half, superb 2nd half, let down by shooting. 7/10
Kewell: Superb, apart from goal-bound efforts, inc. penalty. 8/10
Huckerby: A constant threat, but pressure told in front of goal. Will create more than he scores. 7/10
Bridges: Sublime touches, brilliant 1st touch. Had "goal" disallowed. 7/10
Smith: Industrious. Unlucky to have goal ruled out. Taken down for penalty. 7/10
Crowd: Good atmosphere, plenty of incident. 7/10
Ref: Shit and ace at the same time. 5/10
Incident of the day; When Monkey Face and his assistant went to the touchline to vent anger at Bowyer, Leeds had a throw-in, Mills collected the ball and ran full on behind them to take the throw, barging in between them both, unbalancing them and knocking them, shouting "get out of the fucking way" (or similar). Dead funny.
Danny Mills's untidy, scrambled second-half winner summed up an unsatisfactory and ill-tempered meeting between these two old rivals.
The game marked an unhappy return to Yorkshire for referee Paul Alcock - he of Paolo Di Canio infamy - who issued Sunderland with seven yellow cards, Leeds a further two, awarded two penalties, ruled out two offside Leeds 'goals' and found himself on the receiving end of criticism from visiting management.
© Guardian Media Group plc
As if to apply a sturdy boot to the soft and bruised underbelly of an opponent who had already succumbed, David O'Leary condemned Sunderland to nine months of hard toil with one succinct, five-word sentence.
"I hope Sunderland stay up," he said with as much solemnity as anyone who earns his corn in such a cut-throat profession could hope to muster.
The young Leeds United manager is hardly prone to acts of either villainy or mischief, so we must assume that by inferring the newly promoted Wearsiders will do well to retain their Premiership status this season, he was merely proffering an honest, and arguably valid, personal opinion.
© Guardian Media Group plc
The talk at Elland Road recently has focused on the arrival and departure of strikers, but it was the perpetual motion of the midfielder Lee Bowyer which earned Leeds their second victory of the season despite two disallowed goals and a late penalty miss by Harry Kewell.
The Leeds striker Michael Bridges shrugged off an ankle injury sustained in the defeat at Old Trafford a week earlier to play against his old club, but quickly found that the attentions of his former team-mates would be more difficult to shake off. Only six seconds had elapsed when the defender Paul Butler launched a two-footed tackle at Bridges to earn what will probably remain the fastest booking of the season.
Bridges recovered to meet the resulting free-kick but could get no direction behind his header. Bridges' hat-trick at Southampton comprised Leeds' only goals in an inconsistent start to the season, but although the home-grown striker Alan Smith was also fit again, the manager David O'Leary persisted with his other new signing, Darren Huckerby.
The former Coventry player's touch let him down when he found himself in space on the edge of the area and he wasted an even better chance when Thomas Helmer, making his first start for Sunderland since his free transfer from Bayern Munich, stroked a back-pass into his path. Huckerby dallied long enough to allow Thomas Sorensen to rush from his goal and smother the ball at his feet, and moments later the striker slipped with the goal again at his mercy.
Huckerby redeemed himself with a surging run through the middle which set up Kewell to shoot narrowly wide, but Leeds were made to pay for his profligacy after 37 minutes in what was virtually Sunderland's first coherent attacking move. Nicky Summerbee clipped a perfect pass over the head of Lucas Radebe into the path of Kevin Phillips, who had been a lonely figure up front. The Leeds captain tripped the striker in the penalty box and Phillips got up to score with a fierce drive into the top left-hand corner of Nigel Martyn's goal.
But within five minutes Sunderland were down to 10 men when Alex Rae was sent off for his second bookable challenge on Bowyer in the space of three minutes. The Leeds midfielder had also been the victim when Helmer and Stefan Schwarz were booked and Sunderland manager Peter Reid had to be ushered back to his seat by the fourth official after reacting angrily to what he clearly believed was Bowyer's diving.
His mood would not have been improved when Bowyer, who had already shaved the bar with a twisting volley, levelled with a precise side-foot shot after Sorensen could only parry Huckerby's initial drive.
Sunderland were again forced to pull everyone except Phillips back behind the ball as Leeds renewed their siege and Helmer narrowly avoided turning Kewell' cross into his own net. But when David Batty induced panic with a lob into the box Ian Harte's shot was scrambled away only as far as Danny Mills, who poked the ball over the line despite Summerbee's presence on the line.
© The Independent
AFTER a match described by Leeds United goalkeeper Nigel Martyn as having everything, the contrasting personalities of the rival managers were much to the fore.
Diplomatic and understated, United's David O'Leary said his team should have won more convincingly after dominating throughout and produced a body swerve of which George Best would have been proud when asked to address the matter of whether his captain Lucas Radebe should have stayed on the park after upending Kevin Phillips and conceding a penalty.
However Sunderland's Peter Reid, seething and threatening an Etna-like spillover at any moment, saw this as the central issue and could barely contain himself.
"I'm chewing my chewy hard and biting my lip," he said - you should really try that sometime - "because I don't want any official comeback on my comments. This last-man foul rule concerning red cards really needs some clarification."
I'm sure we can sort that out. First, it should not have been a penalty. Radebe, always nimble on his feet and sure in the tackle, was shepherding Phillips away from a central position and made a clean challenge of which the Sunderland hitman made the most, hitting the deck like a felled stag.
No yellow card, no red card. So why a penalty?
This was just one of many elements of referee Paul Alcock's handling of the game which brought a deluge of calls to Radio Five's Six-O-Six programme. One female caller deemed him unstable; another a bag of nerves.
He may have produced the fastest card in Premiership history when a wicked, career-threatening challenge from Paul Butler sent Michael Bridges spinning into the air, but the assault was so premeditated and vicious that the colour should have been red and not yellow.
Alcock was wrong to rule out a perfectly good sidefoot home by Bridges after Sorensen had parried Lee Bowyer's shot in the 33rd minute. Who was offside?
Four minutes later Phillips made the most of his penalty area fortune, confidently hammering his spot kick high into the net to Martyn's right.
Two minutes before the interval Alcock again stumbled into controversy, giving Alex Rae his marching orders following two successive fouls on Bowyer. The response from the Sunderland bench was as over-the-top as Butler's confrontation with Bridges, with Reid's assistant Bobby Saxton remonstrating as wildly as a spurned Latin Lothario.
The cooling-off period of the interval was welcome, for events had reached boiling point and were threatening to run out of control.
Teams these days tend to dread a 10 men versus 11 situation, but Rae's exit was undoubtedly the turning point for Leeds, who had faced a packed midfield and determined defending, with little threat to their own rearguard.
Within seven minutes of the restart they were level through Lee Bowyer, who pounced on the rebound after Darren Huckerby's shot was blocked.
And Danny Mills ensured maximum reward for Leeds when he poked home his first goal for the club from close range on 71 minutes.
With 10 minutes left Ian Harte produced a rasping long-range shot which had Sorensen rooted to the spot as it cannoned off a post, then Leeds were awarded a penalty when Alan Smith, who replaced Bridges early in the second half, was brought down by Holloway.
Harry Kewell, who has not yet got his sights fixed on goal, stepped up to take the kick but struck it poorly and barely tested Sorensen.
Martyn, once again a virtual spectator, said: "The game had everything. Premiership football these days is fierce and extremely competitive, with everybody giving everything in pursuit of three points for their club. There is no hiding place."
Optimistically for Leeds, at least the big, affable keeper has found one behind his own highly competent defence.
"I was surprised when Harry shaped up for the penalty because I thought Ian Harte had got the job. Apparently, though, they had organised it between them beforehand."
"I was pleased for Darren Huckerby, whose speed and incisiveness caused Sunderland a lot of problems. But we have got to start banging in the goals."
This sentiment was echoed by O'Leary, who said: "We have got to be more clinical with our finishing. Far too many chances are going begging and, as I have said before, this game is all about goals."
© Yorkshire Evening Post