Aston Villa 3 - 2 Leeds United
(Half-time: 1 - 2)
|« Sunderland||Liverpool »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Duberry (Mills 70), Woodgate, Harte, Bakke (Huckerby 83), McPhail, Bowyer, Wilcox, Kewell, Bridges (Smith 70)||Robinson, Jones|
|Aston Villa||James, Watson (Delaney HT), Southgate, Ehiogu, Barry, Wright, Stone, Boateng, Merson (Hendrie 72), Joachim, Carbone||Thompson, Cutler, Walker|
|Leeds United||Harte 13, Bakke 38|
|Aston Villa||Carbone 31, 58, 68|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Bowyer 36, Wilcox 87|
|Aston Villa||Carbone 21, Watson 40|
|Leeds United||Aston Villa|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||3, 19||12, 12, 12|
|Throwing it all away||Jabba|
|Fell apart||Kev Lewis|
|The Guardian||Carbone flair fires Villa|
|The Electronic Telegraph||??|
|The Times||Carbone cuts down Leeds|
|Express Sport||Aston Villa 3 - 2 Leeds|
|The Independent||Carbone hat-trick confounds Leeds|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Beni whips up a storm for Leeds|
|BBC||Carbone Treble Dumps Leeds|
As habits go, this one is starting to get depressing. For the second time this season, and for the umpteenth time in the last few years, we've been one game away from a fairly easy run to a cup final - and blown it when it was within our grasp. And for 45 minutes today, we didn't so much have this tie in our grasp, we had it stuffed deep in our pocket, zipped up and buttoned down.
Almost too depressing to go into too much detail, but let's just say it was a game of two halves. First half - Leeds domination. Stephen McPhail making good passes, Bowyer holding it all together, Wilcox, Kewell and Bridges running at the Villa defence, well-supported by Bakke. And at the back, general stability. We were a bit lucky with the first goal - Kewell was offside in the penalty area scramble that followed McPhail's corner, but Ian Harte's shot was always going to find the net. Villa equalised with what was almost a carbon copy, with Woodgate and Bakke losing track of Carbone between them. Eirik Bakke's goal was a joy to behold, with superb passing between McPhail, Bowyer and Harte before McPhail's cross found Bakke arriving on the 6-yard box in perfect time to head the ball home. The linesman had a busy day, and generally made the right calls - far too often we saw Bridges and Kewell offside, but he pulled up one brilliant attack from Leeds as Bowyer put Bridges clear from halfway when a Villa defender was playing him on from the other side of the pitch.
The second half really leads us to ask what Villa put in our half-time water. Lacklustre and out of sorts, we just let Villa take the game to us. Carbone's well-struck shot from 30 yards found Nigel Martyn badly positioned, and Merson's brilliant - but slightly lucky - jinking run was ended with a brave header for Carbone to knock home. Once we were behind we never really looked like coming back. Danny Mills gave us heart attacks in the centre of the defence after he replaced the injured Duberry, McPhail showed that he can still only manage to play well for one half, and Kewell, Wilcox and Bowyer were barely seen as Villa bypassed them as we tried to squeeze the play into the centre. Villa wanted it more than we did, and it wasn't until injury time that we started to threaten their goal for an equaliser - but we didn't deserve to get one and justice was done.
I know we always ask for consistent refereeing. Beware of what you wish for - you may get it! Today, Graham Barber consistently gave every single 50-50 challenge (plus several perfectly fair tackles) as free kicks to Villa. But then he was only consistent within this match - looking at other similar incidents, David Beckham got a red card for the self-same foul that Carbone inflicted on Bakke, and the last time Nigel Martyn carried the ball out of the side of the area he was shown the red card: David James got away with only conceding a free kick. But as with the Arsenal game, the ref may have been crap, but the players are the ones who are responsible for this defeat. DOL can only do so much from the sidelines, and if players like Bowyer and Kewell are apparently worth so much money, they've got to shoulder more of the responsibility for taking the initiative and turning the side around on days like today. We're still in the UEFA Cup and the league, but we'll be lucky to win either if we go on like this.
I guess it's not news to anyone that Leeds fell apart in the 2nd half yesterday.
Just some spurious observations and some scores.
We've seen the best and worst of Bakke & McPhail lately. I think it all goes to show that as a central pairing they're not quite ready yet. Bowyer who does not need any encouragement to get involved in the middle, had to come inside to help out, leaving Kelly exposed on the right.
IMO Batty and Bowyer is the best centre midfield pairing we have. Followed by Bakke, McPhail and Hopkin in that order. When the game is going against the team, we need someone to hold it all together. Having the 2 youngsters in the centre is not the answer. Perhaps it was time yesterday, to stick Bowyer in the holding role, and sacrifice his forward runs in order to pull the midfield together. When Batty is playing we can afford to have a touch player and a couple of forward minded midfielders. Without him we need 2 players who can defend when needed. I've always been an advocate of first and foremost picking the best back 4 available, but there might be an argument for picking Kelly, Bowyer, Bakke, Wilcox accross the middle for away games while Batty is out.
Harry Kewell had his worst game ever for Leeds yesterday. When playing up front all strikers can be out of the game for long periods. One of the measurements of a class forward is making the most of the one or 2 opportunities that come your way. Yesterday, the few times Harry got the ball in any space, he either mis controlled or wasted it.
It still shows the comparative weakness of the squad when you look to the bench and the only attacking options are really weaker than the 11 players on the pitch. The only player we had on the bench capable of giving the team something extra was Huckerby. I'd have been tempted to use him sooner, as there was nothing to lose. I'd have taken Wilcox off, moved Kewell to the left, and switched Bakke and Bowyer.
Martyn 6. Has to take part of the blame for the 2nd goal albeit well executed by Carbone. It changed the game.
Kelly 6. Solid apart from their winner, when he missed 3 opportunities for a tackle, possibly dazed from an earlier collision.
Duberry 6 Sometimes OK, sometimes worrying.
Woodgate 7 Good game
Harte 7 Solid on his side, OK going forward and covered round behind well.
Bowyer 6 Gave Kelly no help on the right, poor 2nd half.
Bakke 6 Decent goal, poor second half
McPhail 6 Poor 2nd half
Wilcox 5 Average 1st half, poor 2nd.
Kewell 6 See above, decent last 10 mins saved him from a '5'
Bridges 6 Good 1st half, poor 2nd.
Mills 6 Did as well as Duberry
Huckerby 6 Not given enough time
Smith 6 Caused Villa a few minor problems
Copy from Football Unlimited of 31/01/2000.
For Aston Villa there is always another round. Already a step away from Wembley in the Worthington Cup, they entered the quarter-finals of the FA Cup here yesterday after an extraordinary sequence of events in which a little lank-haired Italian played no small part.
A hat-trick from Benito Carbone, which included a goal from the gods, confounded Leeds United's ambitions of buttressing their aspirations in the Premiership with a prolonged Cup run.
Villa, outpassed in the first half, dominated the second and though they would have preferred to avoid a sixth-round trip to Goodison Park, where Everton have yet to lose a league game this season, the habit of winning cup-ties is hard to break.
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