FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 3 - 2 Newcastle United
(Half-time: 2 - 1)
|« Middlesbrough||Partizan Belgrade »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Bakke (Haaland 78), Batty, Bowyer, Kewell, Smith (Huckerby 73), Bridges||Robinson, Mills, Jones|
|Newcastle United||Harper, Barton, Marcelino, Goma, Domi, Solano, McClen (Charvet 73), Speed, Dyer, Shearer, Ketsbaia (Robinson 43)||Glass, Hughes, Wright|
|Leeds United||Bowyer 11, Kewell 39, Bridges 77||Eirik Bakke makes his full home debut|
|Newcastle United||Shearer 42, 54|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Radebe, Smith, Kelly, Batty|
|Newcastle United||Domi, Marcelino, Speed|
|Leeds United||Newcastle United|
|Shots on goal||15||9|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||11, 10, 8||9, 9|
|Jabba||"You don't know what you're doing..."|
|Nick Allen||vs Newcastle|
|Stotty||Newcastle match report|
|The Observer||Bridges trumps Shearer|
|The Guardian||Leeds sparkle but Shearer exposes flaw|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Bridges leaves it late to cap Shearer's double|
|The Sunday Times||Bridges carries Leeds home|
|Express Sport||Slack defence makes Leeds' life easy|
|The Independent||Bridges takes a tip from Shearer|
|The Independent on Sunday||Bridges shoots down Magpies|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Norse star guides United to victory|
|BBC||Leeds stifle the Robson effect|
|Carlingnet||Leeds United 3 - 2 Newcastle United|
Well well, what a surprise. Alan Shearer scores at Elland Road. And gets away with the usual violent assaults on opposition defenders. That's never happened before - has it?
We could have been four up by half-time, but Michael Bridges spurned one good chance and had another shot well saved as Leeds dominated the game. Eirik Bakke had an excellent full debut and was heavily involved as Lee Bowyer smashed a shot into the top corner from outside the area. A first-time cross from Batts appeared to have been overhit as it bounced near the penalty spot and was heading away from the goal, but Harry Kewell arrived with a great leap to head the ball back across the goal and we were cruising at 2-0.
That's when it started getting a bit fraught. With a few minutes to go before half-time, a long ball down the Newcastle right left the Leeds defence a little over-exposed, but Nigel Martyn came off his line and gathered the ball just inside the area. Or at least that's what it looked like to me in the East Stand. And on Match of the Day. The linesman knew better and a free kick was awarded - and if there was an offence, Nige was lucky to escape with a yellow card, since a red card is mandated for deliberate handball. From Solano's free kick, Shearer elbowed Radebe in the back of the head and without a defender to challenge him, his header hit the back of the net.
Half-time saw the usual penalty competition, and when one lad hit the ball through the smallest hole, he - and everyone else - thought that he'd won the car. But apparently he was supposed to hit the other two - larger - targets first. He duly hit them, but was told he hadn't won the car because rules were rules: the Kop made it clear what they thought of it, and Peter Ridsdale - who knows PR if nothing else - kicked the rule book out of the window and it was announced that he would win the car after all. Cost to the club - a couple of grand, benefit: yet more positive press.
After half-time Newcastle looked better organised and came looking for the equaliser, and when the defence got itself out of shape again with Lucas being dragged out of position, Ian Harte found himself trying to cover two: one of them was Shearer and the result was inevitable.
Newcastle pressed some more, but Leeds reorganised and brought on Huckerby for Smith. With 15 minutes to go Bridges redeemed his earlier misses with a cool finish: we were back in front and the arrival of Alfi Haaland helped cement the result despite the ref deciding that two minutes of injury time should last for four.
Lucas is clearly not playing as well as last year, the defence is conceding some silly goals and we've got to tighten up. But that's us looking good in second place and with Watford and Sheff Wed coming up in the league and Partizan - almost - beaten in Europe we should be happy, but the lack of depth in the squad is very evident at the moment, and maybe it's time that the money in the back should stop earning interest and start being spent.
Wanna hear the best gag of the weekend ?
Alan Shearer "not many teams will come to Leeds and play them off the park like we did in the 2nd half..."
As well as being a classy victory over the geordies, which is always a satisfaction in itself, this game and the result raised a few points that look good for the future. Bakke and Bridges - with support from Batty, Bowyer, Smith and Kelly -absolutely destroyed their defence for the opening 35 minutes. Passing, running, movement, little jinks and turns, Newcastle's defence didn't know where it was. We could and should have had 5 in this period alone. Smith from in his own half split the defence putting Bridges thro on goal, a defender got back to him on the edge of the box, he looked like he tried to chip the keeper, the keeper palmed it away... or a delightful spin and drag back 40 yards out leaves one defender on his backside, Bridges rolls it into Smith, who just does enough to lay it off into Bridges' path he takes it straight into the box and hammers it against the bar - the keeper might have got a touch... or the long ball down the right wing Smith bakheels a bouncing ball into Bridges path in the box he hits a low shot which just drifts wide - a corner was given so the keeper may have saved it. At the end of the half their was almost a carbon copy move and Bridges drags it wide.
The 1st 2 goals -
1-0 Lovely interchanges of short passing out on the right between Batty, Kelly, Bakke and Smith, eventually releases Bakke in field, who slides the ball into the space where two CHalfs should be, LeeBowya charges in and smacks a scorching right foot shot into the top corner from 18 yards... while sitting on his backside.
2-0 Ball swung out to the right wing, where Batty hits a first time cross that initially looks way too deep, until you see Harry charging in on the far post, he leaps like a salmon - don't they all? -and heads the bouncing ball back across into the far corner of the goal.
This goal was about Harry's first touch of the ball - this isn't to show what a poor game he was having - its meant to show how we were destroying Newcastle and Harry hadn't even got started yet.
At the back we hadn't had a problem. Shearer was only involved when offering his opinion to the ref. Then came a long ball down our left back channel, Lucas has the situation under control, he must have got a call from Nigel - he was certainly looking for one - and as Ketsbaia pushed in between them, Nigel fell on the ball on the edge of the box. No appeals from the Newcastle players, Nige gets up to carry on and the linesman is flagging. Upshot of it all Nige is booked, Ketsbaia goes off injured, Newcastle get a free kick - from which they score well. Lucas loosing Shearer, and the git scores with a powerful header from 6 yards. I couldn't see whther Nige had carried the ball out of the box, and the TV pictures didn't make it any clearer. The problem was that this rattled us for about the next 20 minutes of play. And it rattled the players who are supposed to keep it all together - Nige, Lucas, and Batty - all found wanting in the keeping the youngsters focussed dept. They all disappeared as the influential calming figures that they are supposed to be.
Start of the second half and Shearer scored again, Dyer flicked the ball over Lucas's head on the edge of the box, and layed the ball sideways 10 feet to a completely unmarked Shearer, on the penalty spot. 2-2. So what happened to Lucas? Where was Woody? and why was Harte further towards the right back position than Shearer? He was bang in the middle of the park and yet stillbehind our left back - Ball Watching - as every games teacher in the country knows.
We could have folded, or just allowed the game to dwindle to a draw, but we didn't - and this is the other pleasing factor -our young team picked themselves up, started again and scored the goal to secure the 3 points that we deserved. And it was a classy goal. Bowyer moved forward in the inside left channel,slid the ball behind the defence to Huckerby, who pulled the ball back with a good touch to Bridges who controlled, and placed the ball into the bottom corner. I was glad for him cos he didn't deserve to be looking back on all those chances with people saying "if only..." He scored the winning goal - what more do you ask of your forwards?
Everybody's point should include a drop of about 4 across the board for that spell stradling half time when we fell apart.
MARTYN -7- no blame for the goals. Nothing else to do.
KELLY -6- Good decision to put him back in. His positional sense in defensive positions menat that he nipped a few situations in the bud. Steady coming forward.
HARTE -6- quiet but effective.
RADEBE -7- for most of the game, kept Shearer quiet.
WOODGATE -7- again unspectacular, but effective - worried by the knock he took with 15 minutes left.
BAKKE - 8 in the opening half hour, dwindling to 4 by the time he went off - very promising - willlook much better when he can last 90 minutes.
BOWYER -8- outstanding - set for England now surely with Keegan watching.
BATTY -7- a typical Batty game, including a 2 footed lunge a best mate Speed.
KEWELL -6- quietish for him, but scored when it counted.
SMITH -7- is proving to be an excellent foil to Bridges, pulling defences around, causing problems etc - strangely though he hardly seems to get a sniff of goal himself at the moment. BRIDGES -9- Outstanding display of forward play - do we need to spend that money?
HAALAND -With Bakke tiring we needed him on - he added steel, and made sure that we weren't going to lose.
HUCKERBY -looked better than last week, some good runs off the ball, lovely 1st time pull back for the winner.
Lousy ref - but thankfully not as bad as the one in the boro-Chelsea game - who booked someone for elbowing in the head, in the penalty box, but didn't give the penalty, and missed two others
When they do life expectancy tests one question they should ask is "DO YOU SUPPORT LEEDS UNITED ?" If YES then lose 5 years.
For two minutes on Saturday I was able to relax. Harry had just put us 2 up, Shearer was cocking everything up. The crowd were calling him a wanker. 3 minutes to half time, I could smell the pies, the points looked safe, and there was a couple of fit lasses nearby in tight fitting Leeds shirts. It was sheer bliss.
"We want 8" cry the Kop. A split second later Radebe and Martyn are dithering around a fairly tame through ball to Kojak Ketsbia and Martyn takes the ball 1mm outside the area. I was right in line with it and yes it was outside the area but the linesman would have needed a bionic eye to see it. (Looked in the programme and it says Yellow Flag - Steve Austin)
Technically NM should have been sent off but it's a fcking stupid rule and the ref saw some sense (unlike some of the bookings he dished out -- e.g. Batty was booked for tackling somebody)
Shearer smartly nods in the free-kick (not taken from the right place incidentally) and they get the fillip they needed. Radebe lost him but credit to Shearer.
Up til then Leeds had wazed on them. Bridges and Smith played simple one-twos to split their defence at will. The former striking the bar with a thunderous drive. Bakke (is it pronounced Back or Backer ?) looked like dynamite. Strong, great touch, vision, committment - the lot. Great pass for Bowyer's opener.
Bridges was as wasteful as ever but he is a Geordie and he obviously didn't want to upset his mates back home too much. Chances galore -- great entertainment and excitement. A real joy to watch us play like that. Newcastle's 5 at the back looked like the Keystone Cops.
Batty's first time cross from deep bounced through the Cartoons defence and Harry buried in the top corner with an amazingly powerful header. 2-0. That's when our problems began.
I wont mention what happened at half-time but it was the best i've seen in 25 years of watching Leeds. Pure drama. (I did used to love those dog displays though when an alsation would attempt to kill a man on a bike who had just nicked a roll of carpet and shoved it up his sleeve)
Newcastle regrouped and played a flat back four. It worked wonders for them. Again our 4-3-3 left us woefully short in midfield and Newcastle gained territorial advantage. No surprises when another slip at the back (surely not Lucas again) left Shearer on his own (where were Harte and Woody ?) and it was all square.
Having dished out a fair amount of stick to Shearer it was a bitter pill to swallow to see him lapping it up in front of the black and white hordes (all 1800 of them !) The cheating, elbowing, ref conning c*nt. 2 good finishes though proves he can still take the piss out of mediocre defences. 2 chances 2 goals.
A stunned Elland Rd. All the hard work for the first 40 minutes down the pan. I had to rub my eyes to check that Wilko wasn't in the dugout. I still thought we'd win but chances were few and far between.
Bakke was finished (or is he Norwegian!) He'd done his bit and looks to having the ability to be an outstanding player for Leeds. Hucks on for Smiffy and it's last throw of the dice time.
When it looked like we might have to settle for a draw Bowyer put Dazzer through and his first time pass fell beautifully to Bridgo. 2 sublime touches and its in the back of the net. What joy. He obviously aimed wide of the post but this time he dragged it in by mistake.
Great to see Alfie come on -- we needed some fresh legs in the middle and he did his job. I like the guy.
No real worries after that and huge sighs of relief at the end.
We fully deserved the 3 points but we made very hard work of it. I saw some delighful football and perhaps a star in the making in Mr Bakke.
40000+ crowd which gives us gates recepits of about 1 million less the price of a car.
Player Ratings. --------------- Martyn 6 Dither, Dither, Dither Kelly 7 Adds better balance to the right. Very pleased he's back. Harte 6 Lucky that Dyer didn't test him more. Rads 6 Some brilliant tackles but some piss poor stuff too Woody 6 Coped quite will with Shearer in the air Batty 7.5 Buzzed Bowyer 8.5 England certainty. Keegan was there to see him at his best. Bakke 7 Class but tired and made more errors as the game progressed Harry 8 I'd shag him. Smith 7 Great first half. Dont think he had any shots but set Brigo up numerous times. Bridgo 8 Gets better and better. Brilliant feet - on a good day could have had six. Needs to improve shooting with left foot. Hucks 6 Touched the ball once and got an assist ! Alf 6 Not on for long but did his headless chicken routine well. Crowd 7.5 (needed a few more Geordies to make it a bit spicier but good vocals from the Kop) Ref 5 (started well and let things flow but then a string of unnecessary bookings fcked up all his good work) Peter "Give the man a fcking car !" Ridsdale 10
Newcastle United's revival under Bobby Robson was progressing nicely until Michael Bridges finally found his range 14 minutes from time, but only by courtesy of the biggest act of generosity by Leeds since waving Eric Cantona off to Old Trafford.
Leeds had enough chances to win this game twice over in the first half alone, but converted only two and were almost punished by Alan Shearer's sheer economy of effort - two chances, two goals after they had been 2-0 down.
Newcastle, in fact, were looking the stronger side until Bridges, the biggest culprit for missed chances in front of goal, accepted Darren Huckerby's pass and beat Steve Harper at the fourth time of asking. If Robson was unaware of his new side's long-standing defensive inadequacies it only took a few minutes against Leeds to bring him up to speed.
© Guardian Media Group plc
Leeds United never did go in much for messiahs. Even Don Revie was more godfather than God the father.
Certainly David O'Leary would never claim to be a worker of miracles. On the contrary the present manager of Leeds insists that, among his contemporaries, he is "young and naive".
Few, however, will buy such a self-assessment even if the tongue is firmly in the cheek. At 41 O'Leary is young in the management business but, as to naivety, he is hardly Candide in a tracksuit.
© Guardian Media Group plc
Leeds United and their striker from the North-east, Michael Bridges, got it right in the end, after Alan Shearer had threatened to deprive them of the win that would already have been sewn up if they had taken their earlier chances.
Bridges was the main offender as Leeds failed to make their numerous opportunities count in the first half and then found themselves pegged back by Shearer's reawakened predatory instincts.
Perhaps fortunately for the confidence of a highly promising young player, Bridges crossed to the other side of the gorge that separates success from failure 14 minutes from time and all was forgiven.
Next to the top of the Premiership versus the side still one place off the bottom it might have been, but the strugglers' sudden explosion into life in their last League outing gave their meeting at Elland Road a quite different flavour.
The question for Newcastle United, following their 8-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in Bobby Robson's first home game, was just how false a dawn that would turn out to be against more demanding opposition.
The changes from the team that demolished Danny Wilson's hapless travellers saw the Spanish defender Marcelino and Jamie McClen come in for Aaron Hughes and Robert Lee, with Duncan Ferguson, who missed the rout at St James' Park, still not fit.
A Leeds side coming off the back of four straight victories featured the youthful pairing of Bridges and Alan Smith in attack, which meant only a place on the substitutes' bench for Darren Huckerby against his former club.
David Hopkin's leg injury gave a chance for a first start of the season to the Norwegian Erik Bakke in midfield. For seekers after novelty, there was a Paul Robinson on each bench, Leeds' reserve goalkeeper and Newcastle's back-up striker.
It was the Leeds strikers who threatened first, Smith's early ball sending Bridges, with five goals to his credit this season, through on goal, forcing Steve Harper to make an alert save.
The Newcastle defence was similarly at sea when Ian Harte found himself free beyond the far post, but could only pull his shot across goal.
After a first hint of danger from Newcastle, via the head of Gary Speed, who scored such a high proportion of his Leeds goals that way, the home side took the lead. Bakke, finding all sorts of space in midfield, slid his pass to Lee Bowyer, who scooped his shot up and into the corner of Harper's net.
It could so easily have been two a minute later when Bridges again found time and room to bear down on goal, his shot flying to safety off the crossbar.
Newcastle's defence continued to look distinctly porous and Harry Kewell put another chance just past the left hand post. Then a run from Kewell produced a foul by Warren Barton five yards outside the area and Bowyer's free-kick required another sharp save from the overworked Harper.
Life became a little quieter for a while for the Newcastle goalkeeper, without any real signs from the other end of the field that his team-mates were capable of seizing back the initiative.
Some elegant play by Kieron Dyer down the left produced a promising situation but Temuri Ketsbaia and Nolberto Solano were guilty of over-elaborating when the attack reached the edge of the penalty area.
Leeds resumed their assault with a low shot by Smith and should certainly have gone two ahead when Smith played a return ball to Bridges that the former Sunderland man slid wide of the post with the referee mysteriously awarding a corner.
They did double their lead in spectacular style six minutes before the break, when David Batty's long cross bounced up perfectly for Kewell to meet with a thunderous header.
Two minutes later, Newcastle were unexpectedly back in it with an equally emphatic headed goal. Nigel Martyn was booked after carrying the ball out of his area and Solano's floated free-kick was despatched by last week's five goal revivalist, Shearer.
Bridges could have had a hat- trick in the first half, his third miss, again set up by Smith, coming just before the break.
Instead, those omissions allowed Newcastle to draw level after 54 minutes, Didier Domi crossing from the right, Dyer lifting his boot to flick the ball away from Lucas Radebe and Shearer drilling it past Martyn.
The old master was showing Leeds and Bridges in particular how it should be done and Newcastle were responding by now playing with more confidence.
But then David O'Leary brought on Huckerby for Smith to try to reignite Leeds' attacking fire. Almost immediately, the ploy worked when Bowyer found him on the left and Huckerby squared the ball for Bridges to finally put one away.
© The Independent
A STAR was born as Leeds United went Bakke to the future in a scrambled, but deeply significant Premiership defeat of rejuvenated Newcastle at Elland Road.
Norwegian Eirik Bakke was only in the side because firebrand David Hopkin was kept out with a dead leg picked up in last week's dismissal of another north-east flag-bearer, Middlesbrough.
But the debutant seized his opportunity and until he suffered a knock and reached the point of collapse with exhaustion having completed three-quarters of his big-league initiation, the £1.75m import looked for all the world a highly-seasoned campaigner.
The tall, dark-haired Scandinavian possesses an air of nonchalance belied by unrelenting determination, an unswerving commitment in the tackle and a finely-tuned eye for an opportunity, emerging as a player who will take high ranking in manager David O'Leary's squad system.
There is more than a hint of resemblance from afar between the boss and the bossed and O'Leary said: "I was always told that if you saw a player you wanted for a period of about three years you should sign him and back your judgement because, in that time, you would probably be sacked anyway and at least you would have the satisfaction of fielding a player of your own choosing."
"I heard about Eirik and went to see him and for some time he has been a player who I didn't want to expose too quickly. I thought, however, that this was the right day to do it and he emerged with great credit. It will not be long before he is viewed as a real talent."
There were enough players in that category on view here and it was the striking super-talent of them all, England captain Alan Shearer, who threatened to undo the best laid plans of the Elland Road men.
He did his very best. With Leeds having cruised comfortably to a 2-0 lead in the space of 39 minutes, Shearer hit them with a double salvo in 12 minutes either side of the interval to take his personal goalscoring tally to seven in 144 minutes of Premiership action.
His first, three minutes before the interval, came in highly controversial circumstances with Nigel Martyn having been ruled to have handled the ball outside the area in a tangle with the stretchered-off Temuri Ketsbaia.
Shearer met precious little resistance when he rose to head home Nolberto Solano's free kick and there was not much more determination in the defensive ranks when he equalised by burying Kieron Dyer's touch in the bottom corner.
Besides his wonderful goalscoring prowess and indomitable strength, I am not sure there is much more to admire in Shearer. He enters every challenge with dangerously-flailing elbows and roams with a spoilt-child sulk when he is not involved. Nor is he over-generous in defeat, absurdly claiming that Newcastle had played Leeds off the park in the second half.
His wicked elbowing was felt full-force by Lucas Radebe and it was satisfying to see the Leeds skipper give him a lengthy and forceful piece of his mind.
Leeds' two-goal cushion was laid courtesy of a now-familiar edge-of-the-area rasping drive from Bakke's through ball by Lee Bowyer in the 11th minute and a breathtaking arched-back header by Harry Kewell after David Batty's cross bounced in the area.
It was a stunning blow which reminded Newcastle boss Bobby Robson of the legendary Tommy Lawton and if that was a compliment then the bus pass manager's next observation most certainly was not.
He berated the attitude of the Leeds fans towards Shearer, saying: "He was a national hero in Euro 96 and showed throughout the 90 minutes here some brilliant centre forward play. Yet he suffered a barrage of name calling and you have to ask why. What does he have to do?"
Michael Bridges, who spurned chances of a first-half hat-trick, at least did not allow the free net-finding lessons handed out by Shearer go to waste and he was a mightily relieved man when, 14 minutes from time, he took a lovely laid-back ball from substitute Darren Huckerby into his stride before firmly sidefooting home for what proved to be the winner.
Said O'Leary: "We should have been four or five up at half-time and handed them a get-out-of-jail card. It would have been a crime if we had not got three points out of that game. What excites me is the way we are creating chances by the hatful and if one is not taken then another is sure to come along."
"We want to get it on with anybody and everybody. I am hungry for success and I have a group of people who want to come along with me. We are no fancy Dans and we do not play ridiculous football. The signings we will make in due course will be people who will form part of the plans for the next five years."
"We do not want people who would like to come here for a final pay cheque."
"Lots of people told me not to take this job but we are in a position where we will try to win everything this season. Whether that will happen I do not know - maybe we won't win anything."
"But we are getting the fans in and exciting them with our brand of football. A measure of how far we have come in a year is the recent Nike deal. Not so long ago they would not have chosen the white of Leeds for that. They would not have been interested."
It is highly conceivable that a week from now Leeds will be on top of the Premiership. For now they are on top of the world.
© Yorkshire Evening Post