Leeds United 1 - 0 Spartak Moscow
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Derby County||Port Vale »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Bakke, Bowyer, McPhail, Kewell, Smith (Huckerby 72), Bridges||Haaland, Mills, Jones, Hiden, Duberry, Robinson|
|Spartak Moscow||Filimonov, Parfionov (Smetanin 38), Khlestov, Bushmanov, Bulatov, Evseev, Baranov, Titov, Tikhonov, Robson, Schirko||Ananko, Ketchinov, Everton, Meleshin, Mor, Bezrodnyi|
|Leeds United||Radebe 84|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Spartak Moscow||Bushmanov, Parfionov, Bulatov|
|Leeds United||Spartak Moscow|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||5||0|
|Jabba||A bit too early for my liking|
|Mike Sewell||We never score from corners, us|
|Nick Allen||vs Spartak Moscow|
|The Guardian||Radebe ensures Leeds squeeze through|
|The Electronic Telegraph||No love lost as Radebe lifts Leeds|
|The Times||Leeds refuse to be frozen out|
|Express Sport||Leeds 1 - 0 Spartak Moscow|
|The Independent||Radebe's late strike sends Leeds through|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||The Chief stoops to conquer|
|BBC||Radebe late show wins it for Leeds|
|Soccernet||Lucas late show|
...that's both the goal and the kick-off. The clock showed 2 minutes to 8 as I was sprinting (well, ambling quickly) down Beeston Hill and the noise level from the ground rose - they couldn't have started yet could they? When I got to my seat, it was clear that they'd kicked off early, and Smithy was picking up his booking - not a good sign.
The early exchanges looked to be a continuation of what we'd seen in Sofia: Leeds slightly lost without Batty, Spartak well-organised and looking to break but defending deep. We had a Spanish ref for this game, and like his Swedish counterpart in the first, he ignored some blatant foul throws from Spartak, and didn't get his card out to punish some persistent (but not necessarily individually bookable) pulls, pushes and hacks by the Moscow team.
It was heart-in-mouth early on when, not for the first time and not for the last in the game - Spartak got the luck of the ricochet. Unfortunately this was in the Leeds area - just outside the 6 yard box. Luis Robson smashed the ball goalwards but Nigel Martyn stuck out a foot and blocked the shot. The Kop heaved a sigh of relief. At the other end, we got a series of free kicks in their right-back area as Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges tormented their defence and were persistently fouled. Ian Harte produced one particularly good kick to which Michael Bridges just managed to get his boot, only to see the ball hit the post and go out for a goal kick.
Whenever Spartak got any sort of dead ball situation, they were intent on exploiting it for as much time-wasting potential as possible, and when their keeper had to be replaced on 30 minutes after being injured saving a Bowyer shot, they had an excuse to waste even more time: their sub keeper doesn't take kicks, so a defender had to take them. In the second half the ref finally tired of it after their number 5 faked a run-up and stopped: at least the booking for time-wasting came after 60 minutes instead of 89 minutes as is normally the case.
Spartak's centre-forward tried to even up the keeper stakes by leaving his foot outrageously high as he followed up a ball that Nige had easily gathered. The Kop were outraged, the ref just shrugged his shoulders.
The second half nearly started off with a disaster as Spartak worked a move from the kick-off that gave them half an opening. Fortunately for Leeds, their finishing here was as poor as it was to be for the rest of the night. Leeds asserted themselves more in the second half and enjoyed long periods of domination - but still the goal wouldn't come. The sub keeper made two excellent saves from Ian Harte's free kick and a Bridges shot. Harry shot across the face of goal from an acute angle when a pass to Bridges or Bowyer might have broken the duck, and Bowyer's theatrics in the penalty area prompted a chant of "Are you Harry in disguise" from the Kop but no penalty from the ref.
In fairness to the ref, although he ignored what could/should have been several Spartak bookings, he wasn't taking any nonsense from their players and numerous apparently near-fatal injuries cleared themselves up in record time as the ref made it clear that the trainer wouldn't be coming onto the field - in one case the ref even pulled the Moscow player to his feet himself.
With time running out, Leeds continued to press forward. Stephen McPhail might be effective in dead ball situations but tonight had generally found himself bypassed and too slow of foot and mind. But at least he managed to deliver a perfect corner with 5 minutes to go. The Russian defence was nowhere - but our defence was perfectly positioned: a late run from Lucas Radebe doubled his goal tally for the season and the whole ground erupted.
But we did score far too early. There was still time for several frightening moments from Spartak corners and free kicks, and one header nearly equalised for them - but the linesman's flag ruled it out for offside. The final whistle blew and Spartak found that for all of their sniping and sneering, they had not managed to win the psychological battle or the football war. We're into the last 16 of the UEFA Cup and can look forward to a very busy month in March. There aren't many teams left that you could classify as "the easy draw" but on current form -and with Batty back - I'd fancy us against just about anyone.
Well we did last night.
Apart from the first twenty minutes we matched a very good team, and in the second half were the better side. Early on MacPhail, Bowyer and Bakke were losing out in the midefield and there were some hairy moments. Some later than that too, not least when Eirik played Kelly into trouble on his own 6 yard line rather than clearing decisively - early in the second half he rushed and sliced a big clearance high and wide. I reckon words may have been spoken at half time. Moscow passed and moved nearly as well as they talked before the game. They had the better first half chances and we were indebted to big Nige and their poor finishing. But we found our feet and started to trouble them as the game wore on. Belief started to rise and the play became more even.
After the break we were better again. It was now their turn to watch passing and movement of a high order, though they still looked dangerous on the break. Bowyer's touch took him too wide and he missed when put through, Kewell shot across the goal when a pull back might have found Bridges unmarked six yards out, the keeper pulled off two or three good saves (one from a Bridges free kick), Bowyer came ever more into the game, Kelly overlapped well, Kewell ran them ragged, Bridges' movement was superb, the two young lads in midfield were growing in confidence, getting caught in possession less and Moscow started time wasting. So the ref booked the lad taking the goal kicks. Was it that or the kop that made him take them so badly?
As it wore on two things happened - they visibly wilted under the pressure, but our defence still had its hands full dealing with a strong counter-attacking threat. Secondly, as the pressure mounted (Mr Brauns had to sit down for a few moments after about 75 minutes), we kept our composure and got more and more good attacking situations. Like many corners, but we never score from them. Like free kicks, including when Bowyer prompted the kop to break into 'Are you Harry in disguise?' Like runs from midfield. Neither crowd nor players got impatient or panicked. Then, just as thoughts of heroic failure began to permeate the kop, another corner, Lucas at the back post near the keeper, the ball in the net, rapture, noise, hugs all round. The 'Radebe, Radebe' chant has never been heard so loud before. Followed eight minutes of tension as they pushed forward, nerves caused a couple of poor defensive choices. But when they hit the bar the lino's flag was clearly up from before the lad shot. And then the final whistle, which was nice.
Marvellous, excellent, splendid, 'kin great. It is what being a fan is all about. We deserved to win on the night and the scenes at the end were brilliant. O'Leary was hugging everything in sight, most of his teammates and the manager lifted Smith off his feet, Lucas smiled and smiled and smiled on the big screen. The Muscovites didn't join in the celebrations.
Random bits: Another top ref. These johnny foreigners are soooo much better than the rubbish we have. Except of course for nice Mr Alcock.
Chants: 'Chechnya, Chechnya', 'You'll never beat the Chechens', 'Ooh, aah, Chechnya' [that's enough Chechens, ed.] 'Yeltsin is an alco', 'Happy Birthday to you' as Macca was about to take a corner down our end - it put him right off. 'One Cold War and one world cup', and many more. Shame we never got John's 'Town full of mafia' going.
Clever cheating/gamesmanship: their ability to make as if to lunge in enough to make our lot break their stride pattern just as they had played the ball forward to run on to. Not quite obstruction, or was it? Clever though as the ball regularly went too far to be recovered.
All that and a goal from a corner.
The bus queue was in fine voice as we walked past.
Bring on Part Vole. Sounds a bit odd really.
Days don't often feel this good - despite a minging cold.
It's been a long time since I enjoyed a game of football that much - the first time we beat Man U on returning to the 1stDiv, or the game vs Stuttgart, spring to mind - two quality teams playing good, hard football, backed up of course by the right result.
Funnily enough I always felt confident, but I felt damn well certain once they'd bought Michael Bolton on in goals.
The key to the win was the sort of defensive diamond in the middle of the park - Big Nige, Lucas, Woody and Bakke - all of whom had storming games Lucas just getting the MOTM because of his "captain's goal". But without the saves of Nige especially early on Lucas's goal wouldn't have mattered, he kept us in it. Woody was a bit shaky at times, but when it mattered he was there. To my mind Bakke can be said to have come of age in this game, and I think that if he can keep up that level of performance we might not miss Batty too much.
The full backs had decent games, Kelly caused a lot of problems going forward. Harte did get caught once or twice, but he had little help down the line from Harry - McPhail made more covering tackles than H. My compadre TC wasn't impressed by McPhail, but I thought he got through a lot of work - some of his passing was excellent and some of it was shoddy - what I like about a lot of his passing is that it is measured along the ground, rather than floated.
Bowyer was immense - the last 20 minutes or so he made sure that he was on the end of every cross that came into the box - the man wanted to win. And that was reflected throughout the team, a lot of them, especially Bakke and McPhail were wilting after 75 minutes, but the spirit kept them going.
As somebody else said Bridges has really come of age in the UEFA games - you could see early on that defenders had been told not to let him turn at them - so they were using all the tricks... but he got the better of them eventually and was causing havoc by the 2nd half. He was being held back when he slid in for that one that hit the post.
Harry and Smith offered excellent support for Bridges - H needs to learn when to pass, but when he does, he does it well - some of his through balls were great. Smith works hard, but he is probably the one that will be warming the bench when we sign Heskey.
Huckerby was crap.
The goal. Its funny I'd seen Lucas come hareing forward from his usual post on halfway when we get a corner, screaming at Bakke to go back and cover him... and he just kept going, right to the back post. McPhail's corner missed by the keeper and there he is the one and only God of Gods to nod it home. Cue delerium.
I wonder what its like to bring 39500 people to orgasm simultaenously - and then we hung on.
Martyn, Lucas, Woodgate, Bakke, Bridges 10/10 Kelly, Bowyer 9/10 Harte, Smith, McPhail, Kewell 8/10
Best flag of the night "Grozny Whites" SE corner.
Crowd - noisy 'n' loud 'n' lovin it.
Next round ----- BRING EM ONNNNNNNNNN
Copy from Football Unlimited of 10/12/1999.
Whether it be modesty or just thinly veiled psychology, David O'Leary's repeated assertion that his vibrant band of players are "too young and naive" to challenge for honours should be taken with the pinch of salt it deserves.
There have been many landmarks in their coming of age under the Irishman's 14-month tenure, but none more so than this display of maturity and unbridled passion.
Their passage into the Uefa Cup fourth round was sealed amid high drama at an ecstatic Elland Road by an 84th-minute header from the captain Lucas Radebe after a compelling tie brimming with endeavour, high-quality football and no shortage of tension.
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