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After a season that he'll probably remember more for the injuries and the aggro, Alan Smith once again showed that he had a bit more than just potential today. It would be easy to nominate him for man of the match just because he happened to score both goals, but his overall performance and enthusiasm were they key factor.
Jon Woodgate's return to partner Lucas Radebe gave the back four a familiar and stable look, but Mark Hughes still found himself in space early on but volleyed over the bar. This was a game that really needed someone to dominate it, and although Leeds had the majority of possession and the best attacks, it could have become Everton's game with one or two lucky bounces. The bounces never came, and when Lee Bowyer took a short corner for Michael Bridges to cross in to the area, Everton surrendered their right to any lucky bounces by totally missing Alan Smith on the six yard line. His glancing header went into the back of the net, and Leeds were on their way.
Everton then had their best spell of the game, and a free kick from a Radebe tackle on Hughes had Nigel Martyn beaten, but went just wide. On the half hour, a long ball could have caused more problems than it did when Nigel Martin failed to come for it, but Olivier Dacourt's former Lens teammate Alex Nyarko blazed the shot over the bar.
The game got a bit niggly in the middle third, and Watson was booked for a pointless hack on Alan Smith, and when Everton gave away another free kick in a dangerous area, Ian Harte's shot just cleared the woodwork. Another Lee Bowyer corner sealed the result. This time, a worked move saw Ian Harte come charging from the halfway line to meet the corner with a thunderous volley 25 yeards out. Paul Gerrard did well to palm it clear, but Alan Smith shoved Viduka out of the way to scramble in his second goal. Nyarko joined Watson in the book before half-time, and another Harte free kick failed to find the target, but at the end of the first period, the result looked to be settled unless Everton could change something early in the second half.
You can't accuse Walter Smith of going into his shell when faced with a 2-0 deficit: Duncan Ferguson, Joe Max Moore and Gazza came out at intervals throughout the second half, but the pattern of play failed to change. Alan Smith was brought down inside the area by David Unsworth - as the TV replays clearly showed - but Dermot Gallagher was having none of it. Lee Bowyer desperately needs a goal, and when the ball came to him less than 10 yards out, he could only lean back and pull the ball over the top - his confidence in front of goal has deserted him over the last half year.
Mark Viduka looked strong up front and got in a couple of good headers - including one from the best cross of the day by Danny Mills near the end - but he's still short of match sharpness and will hopefully find that in the next month. The defence didn't have a lot to do, and the midfield three of Bowyer, Bakke and Dacourt worked well, even if they did look a bit lop-sided at times.
"We worked hard...and got three points," said DOL after the game. He's right - and we've got to do what we did last season, picking up points from these scrappy games against sides that are candidates for mid-table glory before we face the really tough tests in the league at the back end of October.
Here we go again - this years pre-match entertainment seems to be to try to spot someone actually buying a pint of Strongbow in the SC, score zero so far. The game kicked off late as everyone failed to notice a huge white strongbow shirt on the pitch, and we had to wait for it to be removed, smooth organisation as usual Leeds.
A pretty open entertaining game from the start, our only change being Woodgate back for Duberry who didn't even make the bench, so the 3 man attack continued with Bridges and Smith playing wide of Viduka. A bright start but the 1st real chance came when Hughes volleyed over the bar, we were generally on top and deserved the lead we soon got.
The first goal was appalling defending from the corner by Everton, Bridges was able to bring the ball in and hit a hard low cross that Smith headed in unmarked from about 6 yards out. Then another corner came after Watson's back pass trickled past the post. This time Bowyer swung it back for the on-rushing Harte to volley it, the same trick we've been trying with Kewell for 2 years, though this time Harte hit a screamer of a volley that the keeper only managed to parry into the air, and Smith beat Viduka to the rebound to nod in.
During the first half Smith headed one straight at the keeper and there were a couple of free-kicks into the crowd at both ends but we were generally comfortable and carried this into the start of the 2nd half. Everton came back into the game after Drunken Duncan came on to mass applause from the Everton fans (well they have to make the most of his few appearances) and Smith and Radebe both had to clear off the line. Bizarrely though Ferguson seemed to drop quite deep into midfield and this meant in the last 20 minutes we took over again and Smith had a few chances to complete a hattrick he would have deserved.
A long ball from Harte, laid off first time by Bridges but keeper smothered Smiths shot, then put through by Viduka and tripped by Unsworth in the area but no penalty this week. Then Huckerby got a cross into the far post which Smith unselfishly knocked back to Bowyer who blasted over. There was also another beautiful move down the right which ended with Viduka heading over from Mills cross and another Viduka header was brilliantly saved by Gerrard.
Gazza came on to chants of "You fat bastard" from the Kop which he greeted with a cheery wave, but he was fairly anonymous until Radebe had to head over from a well-worked free-kick. He may also have been involved in the tackle that led to Bakke being stretched off, another injured midfielder is the last thing we need.
Overall a good performance with a weakened team - lets just hope an even more weakened team can do the same in Munich on Wednesday - I'm taking my boots with me just in case.
P.S Quote of the weekend - "Walter Smith wants to put Gazza on big brother so he can keep an eye on him" Chris Waddle on tele this morning.
First home game of the new league season against a new-look Everton. The players were greeted by the same old twat with the microphone....EVERTON ARE IN THE TUNNEL .....(wow !).....THE REFEREE HAS JUST COME OUT OF THE SHITHOUSE...(Oooooo).....HE'S SCRATCHING HIS ARSE IN THE TUNNEL AS I SPEAK....(Corrr !) ...LEEDS ARE IN THE TUNNEL...(gasp !).....SOMEBODY IS SHOVING A MICROPHONE UP MY AAAAARRRRRSSEE (cheers of approval)
What a c**t !
Everton won the toss and forced us to attack the Kop.
F@@king robbing Scouse bastards.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 21/08/2000.
Little emerged from this match which was not already known: Leeds United will once again be in contention at the head of the Premiership and Everton will not. Both were missing key players, which served to accentuate the strength of United's squad in comparison to Everton's, and the fact that the Yorkshire club has the greater reserves of boodle to match their ambitions.
For 15 minutes Everton were bright and inventive, Mark Hughes volleying over in the first attack. But as the game wore on, the summer lick of paint began to bubble and flake, exposing the underlying problems of long-term neglect and maladministration which have left the club bereft of money and Walter Smith gamely attempting to blend ancient and modern.
Copy from The Independent of 20/08/2000.
That's the trouble with sporting occasions in Leeds these days. They are over when they have hardly begun. Alas for Smith, Everton's manager Walter, it required only half an hour before he received confirmation that this could be yet again a long, tortuous season as he watched his Leeds striker namesake, Alan, bag a brace.
And unlike West Indies down the road at Headingley, yesterday's victims could not even cast aspersions at an iffy pitch. Elland Road's was in pristine condition, which brought the best out of a Leeds side rejuvenated after their summer break.
Everton rallied gamely in the closing stages, with the introduction from the bench of their two inspirational signings, Paul Gascoigne and Duncan Ferguson, but to no avail. Overall, this was an impressive first-day run-out for David O'Leary's side. Having signed a new six-year contract on Friday, worth a reported £10m, the Irishman can no longer claim that he is "just a young manager learning his trade". Neither are his players the "babies" that he once regarded them. They are now screaming toddlers, all desperate for the ball to parade their talents.
None more so than the belligerent teenager Smith, whose impersonation of a millennium version of Allan "Sniffer" Clarke has been too frequently tarnished by his desire forconfrontation.
After witnessing his protégé score his third goal of the season, all from headers his first having arrived against 1860 Munich in the first leg of Leeds' Champions League qualifying tie O'Leary observed: "He admits himself that last season he didn't perform as well as his first. Suddenly everyone was writing him off."
"But I had a good chat with him and told him what I felt. He clearly believed he had a hard-man image and was trying to live up to it. But I told him that I didn't want him going around acting like a thug. I don't want that in my team and now he knows it."
O'Leary added: "I'm trying to mould Alan into a great player. I just want him to have an edge, like Everton's Mark Hughes has had for so much of his career."
Yesterday, the England Under-21 international concentrated on the more cultural aspects of his game and forged a potentially potent partnership with his team's £7m signing, Mark Viduka, and Michael Bridges.
Having finished fifth, fourth and third in successive years, Leeds' performance justified the pre-match belief in Yorkshire that they can go at least one better this season. Much will depend on the distractions of the Champions' League, assuming Leeds have qualified after the second leg of their tie, in Munich on Wednesday.
If there is a worrying aspect for O'Leary it is that his squad start much as they finished last season, beset with numerous injuries and the threat of a court case hanging over three players. He may also be deprived of Viduka and his fellow Australian international Harry Kewell during the Olympics.
Viduka was the spearhead of a three-man attack, and although it was young Smith who took the plaudits with his goals, there was much to admire about the burly Australian, who arrived at Elland Road via Croatia Zagreb and Rangers. Strong in the air, he came close to scoring on two occasions and, both in front of goal and as a creator, his touch belied his physique.
In contrast, on an afternoon for sunglasses, Walter Smith will not have been blinded to the fact that his team suffer from the lack of an executioner in Kevin Campbell's absence, and also a properly resolute rearguard, despite the summer acquisition of Steve Watson and Alessandro Pistone from Newcastle.
"I'm very disappointed that we lost both goals to set-pieces," reflected Smith. "Maybe the players have not had enough time to get used to changes in defence, but it was poor all the same."
Hughes, the greying Wales manager doubling as a still-active striker, might have scored for Everton after just two minutes with a trademark volley, but his effort just cleared the bar. It was, however, a somewhat soporific opening, and Everton were definitely in need of a wake-up call after 17 minutes when, from a short corner, Bridges delivered a cross which the unmarked Smith deflected home with a delicate header.
Everton, who have spent nearly £20m in the summer, have also seen the departure of the midfield trio of Nick Barmby, Don Hutchison and John Collins. It meant that there were five changes from the team that started their final League game last season. In the first half particularly, too many of them looked like they had hardly been introduced.
Almost inevitably, on the half-hour Leeds extendedtheir advantage through a spectacularly-executed goal. Lee Bowyer again deceived Everton by floating a corner outside the area, where Ian Harte met it with a stinging volley. Although Paul Gerrard performed acrobatically even to reach the ball, he could only parry it into the air, where the predatory Smith was on hand to nod home.
At the beginning of the second half, Smith cleared off the line from Francis Jeffers, but the game soon returned to its more familiar pattern, with Leeds dominating exchanges. When Smith appeared to be brought down by David Unsworth, there should have been one of two courses open to the referee Dermot Gallagher: a penalty, or a caution for the striker for play-acting. Rather surprisingly, he allowed play to proceed without taking either option.
Finally, Everton produced the changes that their followers had been calling for, bringing on this week's £3.25m signing, Ferguson, followed by their summer free transfer, Gascoigne.
The lanky Scot proved a handful for Lucas Radebe and Jonathan Woodgate, but could not produce the goal which might have set up an intriguing finish.
Gascoigne, as expected, hustled and bustled, but to no great effect. Everton's recent ambitions have extended no further than in avoiding relegation. On this evidence, that may well again be the extent of their aims.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 20/08/2000.
Two goals from a rejuvenated Alan Smith took a below-strength Leeds United to the most comfortable of victories against Everton, who displayed new signings all over the pitch but none in central defence where they were most needed.
Everton looked good going forward and had enough of the game to take at least a share of the points, but handed the game to Leeds through a basic inability to defend set pieces.
David O'Leary, who signed his new six-year contract before the kick-off yesterday, revealed he had taken Smith to one side after being disappointed last season. 'I'm a big believer in him, but I don't want him running around like a thug,' the Leeds manager said. 'I'm not having that in my team, but I do want him to keep the edge to his game, a bit like Mark Hughes has done for so long.'
Copy from SportLive of 20/08/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Paul Gascoigne and Duncan Ferguson made their Everton debuts on Saturday, but they were outshone by Alan Smith, a 19-year-old who scored the goals which ensured the Everton pair started their Goodison careers on a losing note.
Smith's double strike also gave Leeds manager David O'Leary's much-reduced side a confidence boost before their Champions League second-leg tie with TSV Munich on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for O'Leary, though, Harry Kewell, David Batty, Stephen McPhail, Jason Wilcox and Matthew Jones are still some way from fitness.
And with new signing Dominic Matteo also ruled out for another six weeks, their title pretensions will depend on how an inexperienced and stretched squad cope with the opening fixtures.
If their first match is anything to go by, they have every intention of launching into the sort of flying start which saw Leeds top the table last Christmas.
Admittedly, for their opening game, history was on the Yorkshire club's side. They had never lost on the opening day of the Premiership season - and it was 49 years since Everton had beaten them at Elland Road in the league.
Mark Hughes, of course, seems to have been playing since before history began, and after 90 seconds he gave Leeds a reminder that he has never been one to respect reputations.
This time, though, his trademark volley from Scott Gemmill's cross flew inches over the bar.
But from that moment, the game belonged to youth. Smith was still in nappies when Hughes began his professional career, but what he lacked in years he made up for in determination.
The arrival of Mark Viduka put a question mark over his chances, with Michael Bridges, last season's 21-goal hero, also vying for a place up front. Smith's inclusion on Saturday, and in the Champions League game against TSV, owed more to the injury crisis which had robbed O'Leary of so many midfielders that he was forced to play with three up front.
But having scored the opener against the Germans, Smith announced his determination to stay when he stooped to head a low cross from Bridges past Paul Gerrard from four yards after 16 minutes.
Everton's best chances of the half had come from David Unsworth free-kicks, the central defender shooting just over and then just wide either side of the opening goal.
Ian Harte gave him a lesson in accuracy after 37 minutes with what would have been a spectacular goal but for Gerrard's intervention with a fine save.
The Irish international met Lee Bowyer's cross with a stunning 25-yard volley on the run and all spoilsport Gerrard could do was palm the ball down, only for the ever-alert Smith to nip in front of Viduka to claim his second of the game.
By way of an apology to his strike companion, Smith's well-timed tackle on Unsworth in the Everton penalty area teed up the Australian, but the £6million signing shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
As if it were not enough to convince O'Leary that Smith was back to the form he showed with his dramatic introduction to the Premiership two seasons ago, he cleared a flicked header from Francis Jeffers off the line from an Everton corner within two minutes of the restart.
Four minutes later he should have won a penalty when up-ended by the tormented Unsworth, but referee Dermot Gallagher waved play on. However, cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Ferguson was actually three minutes early, making his Everton return after 57 minutes.
But that was a long enough wait for the travelling supporters, who showed their excitement by cheering loudly whenever their prodigal son touched the ball.
Gascoigne followed the Scottish striker into the action 17 minutes later to similar applause, but his first contribution was to foul Eirik Bakke from behind within two minutes.
Meanwhile, Big Dunc had made a more positive contribution, putting in Jeffers, but the 19-year-old's shot lacked power and Lucas Radebe had plenty of time to stop the ball short of the line.
To be fair to the beleaguered Gascoigne, in the last 10 minutes he showed signs that some of the old magic was still there for Walter Smith to try to unlock, and only Harte's headed clearance prevented him from making a fairytale debut.
But Leeds were never going to let him steal the spotlight yesterday and only another fantastic save from Gerrard prevented Viduka from adding a late third.
Few would argue that O'Leary's men didn't deserve it.
Copy from Electronic Telegraph of 20/08/2000.
TOO EARLY for the real glory days, but the surge of belief pulsing through Leeds United insists they will be there, taking a pop at the championship, nine months down the long, hard, winter's road.
Two goals by Alan Smith demolished Everton, who belatedly introduced yesterday's heroes, Paul Gascoigne and Duncan Ferguson, and a passing stranger would never have guessed that Leeds players of towering talent were confined to the treatment room.
With manager David O'Leary committing himself to six years of bright guidance and new signings settling in, these are happy days indeed with more than a promise of an entertaining return to the headiness of the Revie era.
Optimism was a flag on every pole as supporters cleared the shelves in the club shop and the sunshine of high summer bathed Elland Road. Every man had his dream and at three o'clock all the fantasies were alive.
Mark Hughes, the greying old professional who retains the robustness of his youth with Manchester United and Barcelona, may have had the perfect start on his mind and came close to achieving it after three minutes. These days he bustles and barges in the blue of Everton. The skills are undiminished, too, and in that early moment he had drifted away from his markers to make a perfectly timed run to meet a right-wing cross delivered by Scot Gemmill.
Hughes' header was a goal-scoring effort of immense power, shaving the top of the bar and lifting the hearts of all those Evertonians behind Nigel Martyn's goal. They sang again when David Unsworth curled a free kick into their laps when, for a moment, they thought it might be going in.
It was too early for Leeds to have any serious worries despite being weakened by the absence of Harry Kewell, Jason Wilcox, Stephen McPhail and Dominic Matteo and, after 16 minutes, Elland Road was a place of happiness.
Local lad Smith was everybody's hero. Lee Bowyer pushed a short corner to Michael Bridges, who played the ball into the penalty area where Smith stooped and glanced a header past the bemused goalkeeper Paul Gerrard with all the impishness of Denis Law in his Sixties pomp. Walter Smith may have had some awkward questions for his defenders at half-time.
The goal gave Leeds confidence and put Everton on the back foot, although Steve Watson used two feet to chop down Smith and collected his first yellow card of the season. His foul may have been an indication of Everton's determination and no one could say they lacked ambition. Their new signing, Ghanaian Alex Nyarko, frequently caught the eye with powerful runs from the deep and seemed to have struck up an understanding with his fellow midfielder Michael Ball, though Nyarko was cautioned for a foul on Olivier Dacourt.
Watson was not as telepathic in his understanding with Gerrard and was fortunate to see his misplaced back pass run wide. It was simply the prelude to Smith's second goal after 38 minutes.
Bowyer drove a right-wing corner wide to Ian Harte, the man who makes a speciality out of a volleyed drive, and he launched a rocket that drew an astonishing, one-handed save from Gerrard. No goalkeeper in the world could have held the ball and as it dropped, Smith was in to finish off the assault.
Walter Smith allowed the second half to run 12 minutes before turning to Ferguson, the striker who returned to Goodison Park from Everton last week in a move he described as "coming home". He replaced midfielder Stephen Hughes and soon Gacoigne was warming up on the touchline but it was Joe-Max Moore, who came on after 64 minutes with Hughes going off.
While they were changing places, Francis Jeffers was being booked by referee for a foul on Dacourt.
The changes gave Everton a renewed sense of urgency. Ferguson was on target when Alessandro Pistone gave him half a chance but he could get no power into the shot. Still, they surged forward and Jonathan Woodgate was shown the yellow card for a foul on Moore as the tempo increased.
Gerrard made a brave save that denied Smith his hat-trick when he plunged at his feet, but the best chance of all fell to Everton's young striker Francis Jeffers. Running on to a pass supplied by Ferguson, he took the ball round Leeds goalkeeper Martyn, and was horrified to see Lucas Radebe clear as it was about to cross the line.
Eventually Gascoigne, wearing No 18, came on after 75 minutes, with Gemmill leaving the field, and two minutes after his introduction he was was making the tackle that put Eric Bakke on a stretcher and gave Leeds the chance to bring on Darren Huckerby and Danny Mills, with Bridges departing alongside Bakke.
Gascoigne lost possession and in doing so almost set up a third goal for Leeds as they swept forward, with Huckerby crossing for Gerrard to make another fine save in keeping out Mark Viduka's header. Otherwise, Gascoigne's skills remain high but, at times, the pace of the game seemed too quick for him. He might have scored with a powerful shot that appeared on target until Harte deflected it for a corner.
Leeds head to Munich on Wednesday for the second leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie against 1860 with their confidence high and Smith in superb form.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 21/08/2000.
THE presence of television cameras highlights all manner and means of skulduggery within football, but it was the exposure of a training ground masterpiece translated into meaningful match action which gave Leeds United manager David O'Leary cause to gnash his teeth.
Simple enough in theory, it takes some perfecting when the idea is for Lee Bowyer to play a corner kick very deep and at just the right height for a running-in Ian Harte to connect with a blistering volley.
It either goes straight in or, as in the case of Alan Smith's second goal here, it produces a palmed save to be pounced upon by the lurking strikers.
"I did wonder if we would get it right," admitted O'Leary. "Lee's crosses in training were either coming down with snow on or barely leaving the ground, and they do have to be perfect for them to work."
"The whole nation will have seen it now, though, thanks to television. We'll just have to come up with something else."
That both Smith goals came from set-pieces riled Everton boss Walter Smith, but those who have already earmarked the teenager as a predator in the mould of Jimmy Greaves or United's Allan Clarke were given further justification for their visions.
For Leeds it was the perfect start to the new Premiership campaign, achieved with a degree of comfort and giving them a timely boost for Wednesday's European exertions in Germany.
Everton were inspired by tall midfield man Alex Nyarko, formerly a Lens teammate of United's Olivier Dacourt, but were poor up front and rarely looked like achieving their first win at Elland Road for 49 years.
The late entries from the bench of incoming pair Paul Gascoigne and Duncan Ferguson gave them a more menacing look, but all-action United had stolen a march by then and the central defensive pairing of skipper Lucas Radebe and Jonathan Woodgate had grown in stature throughout.
Their single hesitant moment gave United an early scare when Gemmill picked out the unmarked Mark Hughes but, from eight yards, he volleyed his shot over the bar.
Bakke replied with a volley which was well off target, and when Bridges won a free kick Harte's cross brought a diving header from Smith, but it was too weak to trouble Gerrard.
The adventurous Harte went forward again and this time his right foot shot rattled the hoardings to the right of Gerrard's goal.
Radebe tidied up well when Gemmill's through ball threatened to put Jeffers in the clear, then Woodgate flattened Mark Hughes, giving Unsworth an opportunity to try his luck from 22 yards. His effort only just cleared the bar.
Some excellent work by Bakke allowed Kelly to put over a teasing cross and Viduka's header was not far from the target as early honours remained even.
But Bowyer won a corner on the left in the 16th minute and when he tapped the ball to Bridges his cross was met by a beautiful glancing header from Smith into the far corner, with Gerrard rooted to the spot.
When Radebe brought down Mark Hughes on 25 minutes it gave Unsworth another chance from distance, and his free kick was worryingly close to Martyn's left hand post.
Then Unsworth, worried by Bridges' presence, conceded a corner but United were unable to capitalise on Bowyer's cross.
Nyarko's snapshot from 20 yards was badly directed and he was then harried out of a dangerous situation by Radebe.
Unsworth's push on Viduka nine minutes before the break set up Harte for one of his scorchers, but it dipped harmlessly over the bar.
Watson had Gerrard in a panic with a backpass which trickled just wide of his post for a needless corner in the 38th minute, and when Bowyer's clever cut-back kick was stunningly hit by Harte the keeper produced a fine save but could only parry the ball onto the head of the lurking Smith, who showed no hesitation in putting Leeds two up.
Smith battled hard to win possession in the penalty area just before half time and poked the ball to Viduka, whose first-time blast was not far away.
Two minutes into the second half Smith, irresistable in this form, popped up on his own goalline to clear Jeffers' poke from Gemmill's corner.
Viduka won a free kick out on the left, but Bowyer's shot from Harte's pass was easily cleared. Then Bridges spurned a good chance, shooting wide from close range.
On 56 minutes Everton, with plenty to do if they were to salvage something from the game, sent on Ferguson for Stephen Hughes and, eight minutes later, Max-Moore for Mark Hughes.
Ferguson was first to Pistone's cross in the 66th minute, but could not get enough purchase on his effort, but then he fed Jeffers in fine fashion only for then youngster to find Radebe clearing off the line when he rounded Martyn and stroked the ball goalwards.
With 12 minutes left Bakke was stretchered off in some pain with an ankle injury, bringing Mills into the action.
Jeffers was again guilty of a bad miss with seven minutes left, blasting over after Ferguson won a header to set him up.
United nearly went three up when substitute Huckerby picked out Viduka with a fine cross, but the Aussie's powerful header was spectacularly turned round the post by Gerrard.
It was an all-round excellent first day for United. And What The Cameraman Saw would be a priceless film for the rest of the Premiership if only they were able to infiltrate the training ground.