Leeds United 1 - 0 Partizan Belgrade
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Newcastle United||Watford »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Batty, Bowyer, Hopkin (Bakke 81), Kewell (Jones 85), Bridges (Smith 67), Huckerby.||Robinson, Haaland, Mills, Hay|
|Partizan Belgrade||Damjanac, Savic, Gerasimovski, Staojevic, Sabo, Trobok (Duljaj 67), Ivic (Stojakovic 87), Tomic, Obradovic (Baljak 63), Pekovic, Stojisavlevic||Vukovic, Arnaut, Ilic, Miskovic|
|Leeds United||Huckerby 55|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Partizan Belgrade||Pekovic, Tomic|
|Leeds United||Partizan Belgrade|
|Shots on goal||12||6|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||12||0|
|Jabba||Scenes from the Soggy End|
|Nick Allen||vs Partizan|
|The Guardian||Huckerby rewards patience|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Huckerby on target|
|The Times||Leeds able to take foot off the pedal|
|Express Sport||Leeds 1 - 0 Partizan Belgrade|
|BBC||Huckerby seals it for Leeds|
For twelve quid I suppose I can't complain too much about the view or the entertainment, but I will anyway. We'd ended up with tickets for the second row from the front in the South Stand - which gives you a wonderfully close view of the action when it takes place in front of you, but leaves you wondering what on earth is going on when the ball is at the other end of the pitch. And it may look like the seats are all covered by the roof of the stand, but when there's more than a breath of wind in the wrong direction, then damp doesn't begin to describe the experience. But we were lucky not to be sitting 10 yards to the right in the South-East corner where the unfortunate occupants were doing a more than passable impersonation of drowned rats by the end of the game.
For the game to develop as a contest it really needed Partizan to get an early goal to give them something to chase, and maybe to open up some opportunities for Leeds as they tried to attack. As it was, we conceded a huge amount of possession to them but they never managed to take advantage. There was very little incentive for Leeds to come forward, and for most of the game our attacking aim was to hit them on the break - and it was a pretty effective strategy creating half a dozen chances that should have been finished. Lee Bowyer missed from inside the six yard box after a good cross from Ian Harte, and when Bowyer unselfishly passed the ball through to Harry Kewell after breaking through on the right, Harry could only find the keeper's legs instead of the back of the net. David Hopkin managed to miss from inside the six yard box after getting on to a header from Harry. Despite the heavy rain, their keeper was much more confident than in the first leg, but was rarely tested - and Nigel Martyn didn't have half as much to do as in the first leg: the few shots that Partizan had were straight at him.
Darren Huckerby still looks short of fitness, and several times he got into a promising position only to show too much of the ball to the defender. Bowyer was lucky to escape serious punishment for an elbow thrown at a Partizan player in the first half, but as in the first leg, the ref (a different one from the first leg) was picky in places but let some other bad challenges go. The linesmen didn't do much to endear themselves to the crowd - one of them waved his flag so much the flag fell off and he was left waving a stick to attract the ref's attention.
The goal, when it came was a bit of a mixture (and it was at the Kop End so I got a better view when it was replayed on the big screen). A good ball through from Harry was picked up by Huckerby - but his shot might not have gone in if a Partizan defender hadn't got in the way. The tie was effectively over, and shortly after, the first of the drenched masses started making their way to the exits. Eirik Bakke, Alan Smith and Matthew Jones all came on later in the game, but with the weather and the scoreline, we were never going to see much inspiration. The game finished with a couple more Leeds attacks that never really challenged the keeper, but neither the players nor the crowd really cared by then. We're through to the next round - let's hope we have more luck with the 2nd round draw than we did last year.
A job that needed doing, done professionally. Partizan never looked up for it, they huffed and puffed for the first 15 minutes and our midfield chased around without really getting a sniff of the ball. But despite all the possession they didn't get close enough to threaten the goal. They forced a few corners during the game, which in these conditions - it lashed it down allnight - could have led to a goal just through a slip by a defender, but it didn't. For once our defence never looked like they were in any trouble, with Kelly again looking impressively composed.
We had a good few chances to score, and in truth we should have doubled the aggregate, Hopkin, Kewell, and Huckerby missed sitters - absolute gold edge sitters - Hopkin scooped over from 5 yards out when unchallenged, Harry had it put on plate 8 yards out after a great run down the right and low cross from Bowyer, and yet he still managed to hit the diving keeper when it was easier to hit the net. In the second half Forest ran onto a good through ball skipped the first defender and looked lined up to shoot from about 12 yards out, when he hesitated and went to take on a second defender, which would have pushed him further wide anyway, only for the defender to tackle him.
Other presentable chances kept coming, Hopkin missed another couple, as did Huck, Kewell and Bowyer, but there never seemed to be any urgency. We were never going to lose the tie. The high light of the first half was the flaghappy linesman waving a stick madly to signal yet another offside, as the flag drifted off across the field having detatched itself from the stick.
The second half started more sluggishly than the first - we couldn't even get the ball. This went on for about 10 minutes until another ball aimlessly punted out of their defence was picked up on half way by a charging Lucas who slid the ball out to Harry run into the box leaving the defence in his wake - a corner ensued. Cleared only for Hoppo to win the challenge in the middle of the park for another aimless loose ball, a slid ball through to Hucks down the inside left, round the keeper, almost at the byline, back across goal and in at the near post off the legs of a sliding serb.
Points -6- for everybody, except Batty and Bowyer who get an 8
Finishing this now 8 hours after I started, and to avoid any further canine confusion - although I stand by my earlier email, every word.
Leeds strolled into the second round last night, succeeding in a game which held all the competitive edge of a pre-season friendly. The Yugoslavs of Partizan Belgrade could muster neither enthusiasm nor artistry and in the end were simply content to lose narrowly.
David O'Leary addressed the problem of precisely how to motivate a side which had returned home from the tie's first leg with a commanding 3-1 advantage in the now familiar manner.
O'Leary - "I'm young and naive" - would preach caution if his team was asked to pit itself against 11 dustbins, so his appeal for patience on the field was the evening's least remarkable feature.
© Guardian Media Group plc
David O'Leary's Leeds side negotiated their way safely into the UEFA Cup second round and attracted another comparison to Don Revie's legends in the process.
One of them, Peter Lorimer, felt their first-leg performance in Holland was reminiscent of the most glorious chapter of Leeds' history.
Their sixth successive win, secured by Darren Huckerby's 55th-minute goal last night, meant Leeds are now enjoying their best run since Revie was in charge 26 years ago.
More importantly, it was a mature performance from an increasingly more impressive side in a tie beset by off-the-field controversy since UEFA decreed that the Yugoslavs could not host the first leg in Belgrade as a result of security problems following the Kosovo crisis.
Manager O'Leary complained bitterly that the political situation meant he had been unable to watch Partizan before the first leg.
A huge pot of coffee helped steady his nerves before going into that match blind, and no doubt he grabbed a quick cuppa in the dressing room when he was handed the Partizan teamsheet only to find five new names on it.
The first indication of any jitters, though, came from a largely predictable source. Nikola Damjanac flapped regularly at crosses in Holland and gifted Lee Bowyer the third goal.
On Thursday evening started no better for the Yugoslav keeper and he looked relieved rather than assured in the third minute when he beat away David Hopkin's low left-foot drive.
Then in the 20th minute he just stood and watched as Ian Harte's cross flew across the face of his goal to Bowyer, who should have done better than his high and wide volley.
O'Leary had bravely promised Leeds would go for the win, despite the fact that all they had to do was prevent the Yugoslavs from scoring three times, but it could easily have backfired in the 23rd minute.
Partizan's five-man break faced just two Leeds defenders, but the Yorkshire side were rescued when Harte cut out Vladimir Ivic's rather predictable pass to Goran Obradovic.
At the other end, Huckerby, included in place of Alan Smith, was offside so many times the linesman's flag broke in the 29th minute - a brief moment of entertainment for the near-capacity crowd in a pedestrian first half-hour.
The home support should have been lifted properly a minute later when the cagey Damjanac palmed Harry Kewell's header to David Hopkin four yards out but the Scottish international somehow managed to blast over the bar.
Worse was to follow in the 37th minute when Bowyer finally beat the offside trap to reach David Batty's superblt-timed pass. He squared to Kewell, but the Australian fired straight at Damjanac's legs from a similar range with the goal at his mercy.
Given his previous performance, it was hard to attribute the Partizan keeper's part in the incident to anything other than luck, but Damjanac managed to repair part of his tattered reputation two minutes later with a solid block when Hopkin was again put through on goal.
With Partizan committed to chasing a two-goal deficit, holes not surprisingly appeared at the back whenever their infrequent attacks broke down.
The pace in Leeds' front line meant that there were plenty of volunteers to stream forward whenever the chance arose, but a mixture of last-gasp defending and poor finishing kept the scoreline goalless at half-time.
At least they didn't have to wait long after the interval. Huckerby delayed his run enough to remain onside as Kewell played through the ball.
The former Coventry striker took the ball very wide of Damjanac before cutting it back off the body of the unlucky Marjan Gerasimovski and into the net. Partizan, though, refused to roll over and keeper Nigel Martyn had his first action of the match when he gratefully grabbed the ball on his line after it ricocheted towards him off defender Jonathon Woodgate's heel from a corner.
The passage into the next round was basically as easy as it was professionally executed.
O'Leary described the competition as a "farce" due to the late arrival of Champions League failures into the hat at various stages, but that doesn't mean he isn't taking it seriously.
© Express Newspapers Limited