Lokomtiv Moscow 0 - 3 Leeds United
(Half-time: 0 - 3)
|« West Ham United||Wimbledon »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Bowyer (Haaland HT), Batty, McPhail (Hopkin 80), Kewell (Huckerby 66), Bridges, Bakke||Robinson, Mills, Duberry, Smith|
|Lokomtiv Moscow||Nigmatullin, Arifullin, Lavrik, Pachinine, Ovannesyan (Semenenko 76), Tchougainov, Smertin, Solomatin, Bulykin (Piminov 74), Loskov, Sarkisian||Neretine, Maminov, Kharlachyev, Boliakov|
|Leeds United||Harte 16 (pen), Bridges 28, 45|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Radebe, Bakke, Kelly|
|Leeds United||Lokomtiv Moscow|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||?||?|
|Matt G||Hats off If You... - Moscow Report (Longski)|
|The Guardian||Harte pumps new life into Leeds|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Vibrant Leeds advance on Russian front|
|The Times||Leeds finish task with aplomb|
|Express Sport||Bridges makes point|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Loko are derailed by Bridges|
|BBC||Leeds leave Russia with love|
|Soccernet||Bridges goes loco|
So Wednesday morning at Heathrow and the crowds in the bar suggest that a load of Leeds fans have taken advantage of the cheap Aeroflot flights and not gone with the official trips and at an estimate two-thirds of the 300ish seat plane was Leeds fans. Unfortunately though the flight / food etc was fine the combination of 2 hours to kill in the bar and duty-frees meant the flight was soon rechristened Muppet airlines - due to the misbehaviour of some of our fans. The front half of the plane looked like a bomb-site by the time we got off with seats / cushions and beer cans everywhere and trying to pick a flight with a steward while we were landing is not the smartest behaviour. We even had scuffles in the queue to go through passport control, which took us over an hour, and I was surprised that all our lot got let into the country.
The good news started on arriving at the hotel, it was right in the Centre with views over Red Square and the Kremlin. This meant we could go for a midnight stroll in Red Square and leave Kermit and his mates in the hotel bar eyeing up the numerous prostitutes. Within a few minutes we'd been accosted by the first fur hat salesman of the trip and at 10 dollars a throw we were soon all kitted out. For the next 2 days the way to spot a Leeds fan in Moscow was to look for the silly hats - nearly everyone seemed to have bought one. We also discovered that the beer from the stall outside the hotel was about 20p compared to about 2 quid inside.
Thursday morning up early to do the sights, though the Kremlin was closed. On the way back from Lenin's Masoleum (he looks a bit rubbery to me) we bumped into the team wandering around though annoyingly we didn't have our cameras as we hadn't been able to take them into the tomb. Luckily we found them again later and they were friendly enough, with Risdale and DOL particularly chatty, as we followed them all the way to the Bolshoi.
Basically Moscow is a very mixed up city, skyscapers built in front of breathtakingly beautiful domed cathedrals, tatty cheap stalls in front of expensive Western shops. The economy is also very confused, consumerism is rampant and whilst the street traders wander round with fistfuls of dollars, the genuine shops would only accept roubles. This was a particular problem for us as the hotel kept our passports so we weren't able to change dollars to roubles and therefore couldn't buy any souvenirs from anyone but the street-traders.
Spent the rest of the morning doing the other sights close-by St Basils Cathedral, KGB HQ and then after that we hired a minibus for a whistle stop tour of the sights a bit further way - not quite sure what they all were but they included; Huge Statue of Peter the Great - Ugly Gorky Park - Deserted, bit like Alton Towers would be on a wet Thursday afternoon. White House - A bit dented Olympic Stadium - Very impressive
We then spent about an hour experiencing Gridlock Moscow style before getting back to the hotel. Luckily our driver was happy to take us to the game as well, so while the rest of the Leeds contingent were bused straight to the turnstiles, we were able to wander round the ground for a bit. The Russians were friendly enough and curious and some scarf swapping took place, though not all the Russians seemed to understand the give something back, bit of swap. Even the Police were friendly asking us if we were looking for beer and escorting us through the crowd to the turnstile when we got lost. The ground itself was pretty grubby, plastic bucket seats set well back from the pitch which were filthy though it didn't matter as everyone stood anyway, and if you thought the toilets were bad in Watford, you should have seen these, they really were just a hole in the ground.
The police in the ground were wary to begin with but relaxed as it became clear that though raucous we were largely behaving ourselves. I'm not convinced that all the people outside had actually come in as the ground was only half full and about half of those didn't reappear after half-time. By the end of the game there were probably as many Leeds fans as Locomotiv ones in the ground, about a thousand each, though the Russians did make an effort to make some noise all the way through.
DOL had gone for a 4-5-1 with Bakke (which in the Cyrillic alphabet is er.. bakke - so he was the only one we definitely knew was playing from the scoreboard) on the right in place of Smith and Kewell getting upto support Bridges. I seem to remember they should have scored in the 1st minute and for a while we were worried that they could get the early goal that would make it interesting as they showed enough over 2 legs for us to know they are a decent team. Soon enough though Bridges showed a neat touch to control the ball and Kewell was bought down as he took the loose ball into the area, Harte sticking the pen into the corner. From here both the team and the fans relaxed our new favourite song being "Hats off if you hate Man U" or "Hats off if you're Top of the League" which was accompanied by everyone waving their fur hats round their head - Expect a reprise at Wimbledon. Two goals near the end of the half from Bridges, laid on by Bowyer and Bakke meant the game was really over as a contest.
Half-time unsurprisingly brought an enthusiastic Champions of Europe. We'd spent most of the day saying how it wasn't as cold as we thought it might be but by 10pm it was definitely reaching Tuesday night in Oldham levels and the participants were looking decidedly cold by the time the team made a belated re-appearance
The second-half seemed more like a friendly, although we could have scored more. Lucas getting booked may prove a problem later and you wonder if we should have subbed him a la Bowyer - though I suspect they would have scored without Lucas striding out of defence to make interceptions all the time. The relaxed atmosphere was demonstrated by the fans lobbing cameras over the fences for Police and passing subs (Smith) to take pictures of us. But you shouldn't underestimate the quality of the performance, this was a fantastic achievement. All the players deserve an 8 at least, 9s for Batty and Lucas for breaking up all the attacks as well as for Bridges and Kewell upfront and a big 10 for DOL whose tactics were perfect again.
Luckily after the game our new mate in the minibus was waiting for us, which meant we were able to get back to the hotel (and McDonalds - the place is full of them) before the rest of the Leeds contingent. By this time it was seriously cold, so we foresoke the late night stroll and stuck to the hotel bar.
Next morning it was up at the crack of dawn for the bus back to the airport, unfortunately it took about an hour to locate all the pissed Leeds fans from their beds (those that had gone to bed) and the journey was spent dodging the puke rolling up the aisles, luckily most of those lot had fallen sleep by the time the flight got airborne. It's a bit sad really that you can go to somewhere as strange and challenging as Moscow and the only bad experiences are with your own fans.
Landed back at Heathrow just as the draw for the next round was being made and a couple of peoples pagers told them the bad news, leaving us to ponder if we should just stay on the plane and go back again. Would have preferred practically anything else to be honest and though I had a great time I'm not sure I can justify the time and expense of going back to the same place again so soon. Still it comes highly recommended and at least those that do return will be able to get more use out of those silly hats.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 05/11/1999.
With a touch of panache that defied their inexperience on the European stage, Leeds United provided compelling evidence of their coming of age to book a comfortable passage into the last 32 of the Uefa Cup last night.
David O'Leary had guaranteed an attacking display and the Leeds manager was true to his word. Lokomotiv were out-thought, outmanoeuvred and outplayed by a side fulfilling all their expectations and more.
"I would have been very flattered to have scraped through but we have finished miles out in front," O'Leary said afterwards. "I can't praise the players enough. It's always hard coming to Moscow and getting a result but they have applied themselves fantastically."
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