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It was one of those half-good, half-bad days. GNER got us into Leeds on time, but when the pub served us 3 pints of Bombardier that tasted and smelt like vinegar, with the Barnsley running out, and the Boddies failing to muster a full pint, we were reduced to John Smiths Smooth for lunch. Then the veggie burger with cheese I'd ordered turned into a beef burger with cheese by the time it turned up. We didn't have much waiting down at the R2 queue, and made it into our seats just in time for kick-off. And what a first half we saw!
It was awful! Most of the game was played in the middle third of the pitch as passes went astray and almost nobody managed to find a player of the same team with the ball. A clash of heads with Lucas Radebe left Les Ferdinand concussed and replaced by Anderton, and Lucas continued but looked groggy. Olivier Dacourt pulled up suddenly clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Stephen McPhail - and within a minute, our frail left side was exposed again. Sergei Rebrov looks more than half-decent - but whether he's worth £11 million is another matter - and made himself available in the middle of the park to play a one-two for Stephen Carr to leave Ian Harte chasing air at the back. The cross came in and was half-cleared, but Rebrov returned it with interest. The shot wasn't brilliant, but was on target and bounced just in front of Nigel Martyn, and carried on to the back of the net. Nige should have done better, but the defending wasn't up to much either.
Lucas went off just before half-time, leaving us with a centre-back partnership of Danny Hay and Danny Mills - not what you'd call our first choice line-up. As the phrase has it, "I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall....". Whatever was said by DOL at half-time had the desired effect on the team and - as a result - the crowd, who were finding it hard to make much noise in the first half, since most of Leeds' moves had been breaking down before the noise level was above a whisper.
Less than 10 minutes into the half, a scrappy Bowyer corner bobbled around the box and was cleared only as far as Bowyer. Bowyer returned it with interest, Sullivan flapped and Smith did well to get a boot to the ball and set it up for Viduka to belt into the roof of the net for his first league goal for the club. Two minutes later, he'd doubled the tally by cleverly deflecting a Gary Kelly shot and wrong-footing Neil Sullivan. We were in front!
Already surprised to have seen two Leeds goals at the end I was sitting (I've been a bit unlucky in that department recently), I was very grateful to the Spurs defence in the next 10 minutes or so as they gave Alan Smith two free headers - which could have become a hat-trick if the bar had been more forgiving. In amongst all this we let them get back into it as Danny Mills failed to pick up Chris Perry at the back post from Anderton's free kick, and two dodgy decisions from the lino. Once he awarded Spurs a corner where the ball never crossed the line, and from the corner he was dead certain that Alan Smith's headed clearance was behind the goal-line, when numerous TV replays showed just how borderline that decision was.
To cap the afternoon, Mark Viduka started holding his thigh and looking dodgy with over minutes to go. DOL finally relented and brought on Michael Bridges with 9 minutes left. Bridges has not had much luck lately, and that continued today as his best effort was just nudged away by Sullivan as it crossed the goal mouth. In the end though, we held out despite the best efforts of the defence to gift a draw to Spurs, with Anderton and Sherwood both being inches away from pulling it back in the last 5 minutes.
Overall: Nige was slightly disappointing, the defence did as well as could be expected, Bowyer was outstanding in midfield, and Smith and Viduka look to be forging a useful partnership. We were just very lucky that Spurs were missing Campbell, because at least two of those goals would have been meat and drink to a defender of his calibre.
Three things I only caught on MOTD. First, the massive hole in the crowd in the South Stand. I presume they were thinking about selling this to Spurs, so held off selling tickets and then found themselves with a big gap in the crowd. It doesn't say much when we can't sell out a 40,000 ground for Spurs. Next, the handshake between DOL and GG at the end of the game told a lot. Sure, GG wasn't happy to lose, but the way he failed to even look at DOL's face and barely brushed palms must show just how far apart the two have drifted. Finally, Gary Kelly and Alan Smith: is there something we should know? Tongues'n'all snog by the corner flag when Smithy scored - disgraceful - shouldn't be allowed on TV - I remember when a gentlemanly handshake was all you needed to celebrate a goal....
I'll have to keep it brief as i've just moved house and my gaff is a f@cking tip.
I remember about 10 years ago when Leeds faced Spurs in the top flight at Elland Road after our long exodus in the old 2nd division. I remember it so well - not because a classy Spurs side containing Gascoigne and Lineker beat a hard-working Leeds side 2-0 (after Leeds had a perfectly good goal ruled out for no apparent reason) - but because the atmosphere in the ground, in the Kop end, made my legs tremble.
We were back in the big time and there was nothing to beat it.
First game of the season for me, and what a cracker. Brittania was a great pub to start the day off. Thirkers' hula hoops looked more appetising than the cellophane-wrapped rolls.
As for the game, Radebe played a blinder until he went off injured after nutting Ferdinand. He looked pretty groggy as he was helped back to the changing rooms. Has anyone heard whether he's ok? Hay came on for him just before half time, and played pretty well (IMHO).
Seeing Dacourt go off was also a worry, as he'd been playing pretty well. Regardles of what Dids might say, I don't think Macca played particularly well. A few good touches yeah, but he didn't really seem to get the ball under control.
Harte was getting creamed every time by Carr, which led to their first goal. Perhaps Nige could have got down to it, but 1-0 it was. The Gods fans went pretty quiet for a while then. Why is it that we only seem to get behind the team when we're winning, or playing away from home?
My emotions went from depression to sheer jubilation within 5 minutes. Firstly Viduka's strike from a few yards out, after a bit of a scramble. Next thing we knew, he'd redirected Kelly's shot - surprisingly on target for him - into the net. Couldn't believe it. Smithy then got the first of two cracking headers.
Spurs pulled one back ... looked like Perry got goalside of Mills from Sicknote's free kick, and I was getting a little worried that we'd throw the game away. That didn't last too long when Smithy scored again. I was hoping we'd hold on, as Spurs were putting us under a lot of pressure, so when they scored a third, I was dead worried. I didn't really see what happened until I saw MOTD, but it did look like a goal.
Bridges came on for Viduka, and almost scored within a few mins. We managed to hold on, so left SOTG a happy man. I was surprised to see the South Stand so empty, even more so that Spurs only got given the SE corner. Ho hum. Scores on the doors:
Martyn - 7
Copy from Football Unlimited of 02/10/2000.
Crazy game, crazy guys. "Who would have thought a match between David O'Leary and George Graham would have produced seven goals?" the Tottenham Hotspur manager noted.
Who indeed, except perhaps Mark Viduka, the singular Australian who takes advice from his dog and seems to have only a passing acquaintance with the guidelines to Premiership etiquette - "Do not turn a George Graham defence porous" being one of them?
The Australian striker had been made to train with the under-15s after arriving back late from the Olympics but he responded with a vitally timed double on Saturday to haul Leeds back into a match they were in danger of losing and to justify his selection ahead of Michael Bridges.
Copy from The Independent of 01/10/2000.
In life, there are misjudgements. And there is George Graham's underestimation of Leeds' potential when he was seduced by Tottenham's entreaties almost exactly two years ago. The Scot was yet again made to rue his short-sightedness by a Leeds side who began as though still in self-congratulatory mood after Tuesday night's Champions' League rout of the Turkish club Besiktas, but concluded a remarkable afternoon having caused considerable embarrassment to a fragile Tottenham rearguard.
The result is that Graham's Tottenham have still failed to defeat David O'Leary's Leeds. The additional, delicious irony, of course, is that, only recently, Graham had been decrying the standard of defending by Premiership teams. The Elland Road faithful could hardly contain their mirth that his point was so emphatically proven here. After six of the best on Tuesday night, here was a caning of their least-favourite manager. Well, not quite.
In a game where the defending of both sides was as well orchestrated as Great Britain baton-changing, Leeds' advantage was never truly confirmed until the final whistle.
Nevertheless, such inadequacies should not detract from the deadly accuracy of Mark Viduka and Alan Smith, whose burgeoning partnership produced two goals apiece during a 22-minute second-half spell which produced six. Indeed, with a third attempt the latter might have been rewarded with a hat-trick, but instead struck a post.
Inevitably, the kind of contest which thrills a spectator leaves only a chill within the heart of a manager. It renders all those hours on the training pitch, organising defensive strategies, rather futile, doesn't it? Particularly for Graham, whose CV will always boast "establishing and organising the celebrated Arsenal back four". Never mind the lethal finishing of Tottenham's Ukrainian forward Sergei Rebrov, or the predatory instincts of Smith, scoring his first goals for seven games, and Viduka.
O'Leary provided a précis for both his and his former Arsenal manager's attitudes when he insisted: "I can't take any credit for the second half performance. There was no great tactical plan. Two managers have seen too many bad goals given away today."
For all Leeds' European euphoria, it has been a period of domestic despair for O'Leary's men, who boasted two points from their last 12 before yesterday. They had been particularly ineffective at Elland Road, having suffered humiliating defeats by promoted Manchester City and Ipswich.
Still, Tottenham were hardly in a position to mock, having scored a total of two goals in their last three games, and both of those against Brentford in the Worthington Cup. Unfortunately for the Londoners, once the goals began to flow again, so leaks in the system appeared.
Whether both teams were determined to be on their absolute best behaviour following last season's 18-man brawl in the corresponding fixture resulting in a £150,000 FA fine apiece or merely reacting to their midweek endeavours, the first half-hour was devoid of inspiration. The dearth of biting challenges mirrored the lack of opportunities. Indeed, for a time it appeared as though the half would be notable only for a nasty clash of heads between the Leeds captain Lucas Radebe and Tottenham's Les Ferdinand. The latter was removed by stretcher and replaced by Darren Anderton, himself returning from a groin injury. Radebe, who damaged his neck in the 4-0 defeat at Barcelona, attempted to continue, but was eventually forced to retire. Both men were treated for concussion.
By the time Radebe departed, Tottenham had forged into the lead, Stephen Carr sweeping a low ball across the Leeds area for Rebrov to score.
Leeds, so devoid of ideas, and too frequently incapable of finding a white shirt before the break, began the second period in similar mode. Yet, their equaliser, seven minutes after the interval, transformed the contest from moribund tomesmerising.
Lee Bowyer, who had been responsible for igniting the fuse the last time the sides met here with a studs-first challenge on Stephen Clemence, this time displayed the more cultivated side of his nature with a contribution to three of Leeds' goals. The first arrived when Bowyer lobbed a teasing ball into the goalmouth which Sullivan could only finger against a post. The alert Viduka lashed in the rebound.
Almost immediately, Gary Kelly's long-range effort was diverted past Sullivan by a grateful Viduka. His two goals, added to a brace against Besiktas, were a welcome and deserved reward for the Australian international. Smith, a member of Kevin Keegan's squad to face Germany and Finland, steered a header past Sullivan from Lee Bowyer's free kick for Leeds' third the end of "a crazy 10 minutes", according to Graham before Chris Perry hauled Tottenham back into contention, heading in Anderton's free-kick. But the repair was never completed. Bowyer and Smith again combined, this time the young striker heading the fourth from the midfielder's corner.
Spurs had still not quite been shrugged aside. Anderton was again the provider with a corner which Iversen headed into the goalmouth for Rebrov to convert with an overhead kick. Smith actually cleared the ball, but he was standing well behind the line.
David O'Leary, who "thinks the world" of his former Arsenal manager, readily concedes that he has only achieved what he has because of the Scot's desire to return to London. Appropriately, on the occasion of Graham's second anniversary at White Hart Lane, the Irishman had good reason to thank his mentor once again.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 01/10/2000.
You can't take your eyes off Leeds at the moment. Not content with lording it over Barcelona and Milan in the Champions League after six goals against Besiktas in midweek, David O'Leary's still depleted side went a goal down against Spurs then bounced back with four second-half goals in 11 minutes.
This was only Leeds's second league win of the season at home, and for almost an hour it never looked like coming. A slow match was transformed when Lucas Radebe's departure with concussion led to paralysis in both defences.
'Two managers saw too many bad goals given away today,' said O'Leary. 'But at least we have the excuse of being a patched up team.' George Graham, already on a crusade over the feebleness of Premiership defending, was even more scathing. 'The fans might have enjoyed that but both defences were awful,' he said. 'The Premiership is way below standard anyway. Some of these expensive foreign strikers are picking up goals for fun.'
Copy from SportLive of 01/10/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
When the force is with David O'Leary's young Leeds team, they are thrillingly irresistible. When it is not, they become alarmingly vulnerable.
Both aspects of their youthful vigour were on show at Elland Road yesterday when they overcame the Spurs side managed by former boss George Graham in a 'crazy capers' encounter.
Strikers Mark Viduka and Alan Smith both scored twice during a blistering 12-minute spell at the start of the second half which won the match for Leeds.
Yet O'Leary's team so nearly gave away a much-needed victory, their first in five Premiership matches. Sergei Rebrov netted twice for Spurs, while defender Chris Perry also capitalised on naive Leeds defending - and the home side were left hanging on as Tottenham vainly chased a final equaliser.
The second half could not have been more pulsating, a wonderfully attractive advert for the thrills and spills of English league football.
In stark contrast, the first half could not have been more inept, the passing of both sides woeful. It was impossible to believe almost every one of them was a full international on millionaire wages, with Leeds maybe suffering a reaction to their midweek 6-0 thrashing of Besiktas in the Champions League.
The only arresting moment before the break was when fans of both sides were stunned into silence by a shuddering clash of heads between Leeds skipper Lucas Radebe and Spurs striker Les Ferdinand.
Both are huge men and both appeared to be left unconscious by the 27th-minute incident. Ferdinand was taken from the field on a stretcher after a three-minute delay for treatment and replaced by the player they call Sicknote, Darren Anderton.
Radebe attempted to soldier on, but he had clearly been left groggy. He also suffered a hamstring injury and was eventually substituted just before the break. The South African had only recently returned after being concussed in a Champions League tie in Barcelona.
There was further concern for O'Leary when his £7.2million summer signing Olivier Dacourt also departed before half-time with what appeared to be hamstring trouble. Leeds were looking distinctly threadbare as they trooped off for whatever fruit the dieticians recommend during intervals these days.
They were also 1-0 down, having conceded a sloppy goal to Rebrov, whose scuffed shot from the edge of the penalty area had just enough power to beat unsighted goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.
But not for nothing are the Leeds fans delighted that it is O'Leary rather than his predecessor, Graham, in charge these days. His soft Irish brogue may not hold as much fear as a tirade from Graham but the effect, as we saw yesterday, can be dynamic.
Even before the goals, there had been an urgency about Leeds' play, exemplified by biting tackles from Lee Bowyer that brought a reprimand from a referee mindful of the nasty encounter between these two sides last season, which brought both clubs a £150,000 fine from the FA. Spurs were unable to cope with the stunning transformation.
Graham, ritually jeered by the Elland Road faithful, must have winced at his team's dire defending as Leeds scored four in 12 minutes. Viduka began the reply when he capitalised on a poor attempted clearance by Ramon Vega to score from close range in the 52nd minute.
Sixty seconds later the Aussie had made it 2-1, deliberately deflecting a long-range shot from Gary Kelly past stranded Spurs keeper Neil Sullivan. In the 59th minute Leeds were 3-1 up, Smith heading home a free-kick from Bowyer. Spurs hit back with Perry ghosting in at the far post to head in a curling cross from Anderton to make it 3-2.
It was 4-2 in the 64th minute. Again, the marking for Smith was non-existent as he buried another header from a Bowyer corner. Smith also had two fierce left-foot drives blocked in quick succession and 20 seconds later he clipped an effort against the bar.
But Leeds' defensive naivety, and the controversial award of a corner, gave Spurs yet another lifeline. The linesman, trying to look through two posts, could not have seen whether Martyn held a low ball on or over the goal-line on the far side.
But he flagged for the corner and when Iversen flicked the ball on, Rebrov sent it goalwards with an overhead kick. Smith tried to head it off the line, but this time the linesman was clearly correct to rule it had wholly crossed the white line.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 02/10/2000.
OH the havoc that can be wreaked on the Spurs of the moment.
The absence through injury of Sol Campbell has left them with a defence as secure as the walls of Jericho and what a source of embarrassment they were here to their manager George Graham.
For a man whose reputation has been built on the nurturing of miserly rearguards, his summary was understandably choked.
"The scoreline could have been anything," he said."Who would have thought George Graham and David O'Leary would produce seven goals? I can work with players and I can improve them, but I can't make them absolutely brilliant.
"The defending in both sides was awful. It's generally bad, anyway, in the Premiership. Some of these foreign boys coming across must love playing in it. They can score goals for fun.
"But when you score three goals away from home and lose you've got to be very disappointed."
Said O'Leary: "I think the two managers have seen too many soft goals given away. I know where they came from at our end because we had a patched-up team. You're sending on inexperienced people in different positions and I always thought we would be vulnerable at the back.
"It might have been thrilling for the crowd, but it wasn't very thrilling for me. The bottom line is that I'm just very grateful for the three points."
There had been not the merest hint of what was to come - six goals in the space of 22 breathtaking second-half minutes - in an opening period which was at best tentative.
The match was uncannily taking the course of previous Elland Road encounters with Manchester City and Ipswich until the blue touch paper was lit by Mark Viduka and Alan Smith, whose shared spree saw Leeds score four times in just 12 minutes.
It was enough, though only just, to ensure a first Premiership win in five games for Leeds, for eventhen, right at the end, Tim Sherwood just failed to convert from an opening made for him by substitute Darren Anderton.
A tame opening saw Iversen's right-wing cross flash across the face of goal and Bowyer's free-kick on the left sail harmlessly over. Then, when Spurs broke with promise, Carr overran the ball before he could get in a cross.
Sherwood complained to referee Barry about a crunching tackle from Dacourt but, if anything,too much respect was being paid by all parties.
Both sides continued to trade half-chances, but free-kicks and crosses was the nearest we came to a goal. Then, after 28 minutes, there was concern all round after Ferdinand and Radebe clashed heads in an aeriel duel.
Ferdinand was stretchered off down the tunnel, to be replaced by Anderton, but the Leeds skipper recovered well enough to resume and his composure was such that he stopped Rebrov in his tracks on the edge of the area.
Dacourt limped off with a pulled hamstring nine minutes before the break to be replaced by McPhail and within a minute Spurs took a surprise lead.
Iversen picked out Carr down the right and his cross to the edge of the box fell into the path of Rebrov, whose sweet first-time effort zipped into the far corner.
Radebe, meanwhile, was receiving extended treatment on the touchline and was eventually replaced by Danny Hay, making his first League appearance in a Leeds shirt.
The losses of Dacourt and Radebe had not helped, but Leeds once again appeared to be suffering a European hangover and the first half deficit was going to be difficult to overcome.
However, O'Leary's men emerged bristling and were ahead with two goals inside a minute. Bakke won a corner on the right in the 52nd minute and when Bowyer got a second chance to cross Sullivan could only touch the ball onto a post and Viduka pounced to equalise.
Then Kelly, sensing everything opening up ahead of him, tried a crack from 25 yards and Viduka cleverly deflected it past Sullivan.
On 59 minutes Bowyer's nicely-flighted free kick from the left was met with a bullet header into the corrner by Smith and Leeds were storming ahead.
But Spurs were not about to throw in the towel and they were back in it on the hour when Anderton's free-kick was headed home at the back post by Perry.
Four minutes later, though, Leeds raced into a 4-2 lead, Smith arrowing Bowyer's corner into the net with a splendid header.
And in the 68th minute Smith came within an ace of his hat-trick, slamming Matteo's cross against the bar.
Six minutes later Anderton's corner was met by Iversen and Rebrov hoisted it over the line despite valiant attempts by Smith to keep it out.
Ten minutes from the end Leeds replaced Viduka with Bridges and he almost scored with his first touch after being put through by Bakke. But Sullivan spread himself well to save.
Five minutes later Thatcher brought down Bowyer 20 yards out but Harte's free-kick was straight at Sullivan.
How poetic, then, that United's Premiership campaign got a kick-start from ex-boss Graham on the second anniversary of his departure for the capital.