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Just a few quick words dashed off at the end of an evening that has knocked another year or two off my life. DOL once again went for the "not naming a full set of subs" strategy, but it didn't engender any sympathy from Milan or referee Nielsen. Milan came out looking for a goal, and were ably assisted by the whistle-happy Dane's one-sided refereeing as they dominated the first 15 minutes.
Leeds held on and slowly dragged themselves back into the game. At last the ball started arriving at Viduka and Smith's feet, and Smith in particular started making life very difficult for both Chamot and Maldini, forcing Nielsen to give us the occasional free kick. Ian Harte produced an excellent dead ball from the right side of the box that was inches away from making a connection with Eirik Bakke's boot for a certain goal. And those inches were gained by what was clearly a pull on Bakke's shirt that went unnoticed by ref and linesman.
Nielsen did his best to offer Milan the same advantage as Michas did in 1973. Serghinho was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, and when he again put Kelly under pressure, he found some space and smashed the ball across the goal mouth. Or it would have gone that way but for the fact that it hit Gary Kelly's elbow after it had travelled less than six inches. Clearly a penalty: Kelly should have arranged to have his arms removed if he'd wanted to play in a match reffed by Nielsen. Incredibly, Andriy Shevchenko hit the base of the post from his kick after Robinson had dived the wrong way. The Leeds fans behind the goal went wild and the scales of justice tipped back into balance.
Having got out of jail, Leeds looked like they might take control of the game coming up to half time - and when Viduka's excellent work won a corner just before the interval, Bowyer's near post corner found Dominic Matteo ahead of his marker and glancing a header inside the near post - 1-0 at half-time and we had a buffer.
With 3 minutes gone in the second half, Milan had wasted 4 good chances, and that buffer was looking exceedingly thin. Shevchenko was making good runs, although Danny Mills was having another good game at centre back, but the danger man continued to be Serginho. And so it proved. A bit of careless midfield play, an unlucky bounce from the terrible pitch that lifted the ball over Gary Kelly's lunge, and Paul Robinson's record of heroic performances but no clean sheets was continued as the Brazilian finished with an inch-perfect shot.
The following 15 minutes were reminiscent of the second half of the Barca game at Elland Road as Milan piled on the pressure - if any Catalans doubt that the Italians tried to win this game, they should be made to watch the tape. Only during the last 5-10 minutes did Milan let up, and with only 2 minutes of injury time, the whistle came sooner than a winner for either side and Leeds were in the last 16.
Quiet game for Bakke (again), Kelly was skinned alive by the brilliant Serginho, and Lucas looked ring-rusty. But - as with Saturday's game against the Scouse - this was a fine team performance. They all dug deep and the draw was most deserved. Let's hope they've got a little something in reserve for our match-up with JFH on Sunday.
Can we go further? Well, I never thought we'd get this far. We get to bank another £10 million and play another 6 games against top class opposition - we might even have our best players back for the last 4 games, but it would be very tough on the team that have got us this far to be asked to step back now.
So off from Stansted again Tuesday afternoon, only just made it there at the appointed time thanks to a broken down train from Liverpool Street and another new airline, Buzz with their luminous planes took us to Milan. Luckily a friendly Cambridge fan had booked us into a hotel perfectly located between the airport and city centre and so within an hour of landing we'd booked in, showered and changed and were out in the local pub. Where judging by the hangovers the next morning a good time was had by all.
Wednesday and off to look around the city mainly from the very impressive cathedrals roof. Attempts to look for the Last Supper painting were doomed to failure though, as firstly we couldn't find it and the locals either didn't know where it was or didn't understand the question, and then we were told you had to buy tickets in advance to get in anyway. Loads of Leeds around as expected but no hint of trouble though rumours were spreading of a stabbing the previous night. There was meant to be an alcohol ban in force but it wasn't exactly strictly adhered to even in the centre and I think most people found somewhere to get a beer.
Pre-game the pub near our hotel was closed but the bar just up the road masquerading as a tobacconist was open and stumbling into there was a bit of a result, as with every drink we ordered more free food arrived, we though tapas was a Spanish idea. Eventually after a few rounds we actually had to tell them to stop bringing us anymore food as we just couldn't eat anymore.
It soon became time to head off to the game, and after a few stops our metro got crowded with some of the less enlightened members of our support and so the rest of the journey punctuated with bouts of "No Surrender" was not particularly pleasant. Although that was the only time in the whole trip that I felt uncomfortable and I didn't notice any racist songs once we were in the ground. We got off at the tube stop after everyone else to avoid being rounded up with the muppet convoy, and walked into the ground with no hassle at all, though the numbering around the entrances was a bit confusing.
On getting into the ground, about 15 minutes before kick-off, a very impressive turn-out from our lot meant there wasn't a lot of room, so we ended up in the corner with not the greatest view and importantly where we couldn't see the score board. As I didn't have a watch this meant I had no idea how much time had gone and with the tension surrounding the game, every second seems to last a minute. We were glad to see Lucas and Mills back to give us some defence although joking about how long it'd be til our first injury. To be honest the tension was too much to really enjoy the game and it soon became clear that whilst not exactly tearing into us Milan were not going to give us an easy time.
It was also obvious that if there was a plan to play for a draw Serginho was not in on it, as he was causing us constant problems from the outset. Shevchenko was also causing problems with his movement and often finding space with Lucas struggling to get to him and close him down. Having said that despite having a lot of the ball Milan were not creating an awful lot; and we were actually starting to match them when they got what looked like a lucky penalty when Kelly looked to have no chance of getting his hand out of the way from a cross at close range. The tension as we waited for the penalty was nearly unbearable and the explosion of joy as it hit the post and rebounded to safety was astonishing.
Still 60 minutes left though and Robinson had to make a couple of saves and Lucas a couple of important blocks before we won a corner on the right. Bowyer swung it in, Matteo got his head to it and Man of the Group Dida missed it at the near post. One-nil up and time to start screaming at the top of your voice and start hugging strangers. The goal coming just before half-time also led into one of the best ever WATC-COE as nearly everyone joined in and the sight of thousands of naked torso's and shirts being waved around heads must have been a sight to behold from the other end. There were even a few stray Leeds in other parts of the ground joining in.
Second half and it was clear Milan were not happy to settle for 2nd in the group and they came at us fired up. Viduka and Smith were battling hard to hold the ball up front but were a bit isolated from the rest and hence we struggled to keep possession for the long periods that were required. After a few close shaves we were just starting to feel slightly confident (or less scared) when Serginho got free once too often and scored a superb equaliser. Thoughts that Milan may now ease off proved unfounded and as the ball bobbled and ricocheted around our area at times, our support which had been tremendously vocal and supportive all night became very apprehensive. Smith battled to relieve the pressure and kept the ball in their half a lot and as the whistles from our end grew, Milan did seem to ease off to some extent. Though to be honest we still wet ourselves everytime the ball went near our area, and the ref wasn't doing us a lot of favours.
The teles dotted around the stands, showed us Barcelona were winning easily and that we had to hold on. The 4th official put his board up but no-one could read it but we knew the end must be getting close. With seconds to go, as Robinson prepared to take a goal-kick there was a Primal Scream type wall of noise from our end (No not the band more like 7000 people just screaming nothing) similar to the one at the Barca home game. Thankfully this time it was not to be silenced and the final whistle soon put us out of our misery - i can't say I enjoyed the game at all at the time. The general dancing up and down yelling must have gone on for a while because next time I looked up 45,000 Milan fans had disappeared.
Not sure I can really give out scores, as the view wasn't great, especially when the Maverick Whites flag obscured half the pitch and the tensions was so great it was difficult to dispassionately observe individual performances. My perception was though that Smith and Viduka were tremendous, battling for every second they could take pressure off the defence. The midfield didn't really support the strikers well enough and couldn't always keep possession but led by Dacourt were tremendously committed. Robinson did us proud again for one so young and Mills continued to defy expectations at centre-back, but MoM was probably Lucas who managed to stop Shevchenko scoring and marshalled the defence superbly.
However, some of the best entertainment was yet to come. For about 20 minutes after the game finished we celebrated dancing around and touring around the Leeds end, bumping into plenty of other Leeds fans we'd got to know in our travels over the years. After a while Risdale and DOL appeared and after having their names chanted, were met with chants of "Get the team out for the lads." The team duly appeared and wandered out onto the pitch in front of us, wondering what exactly they were meant to do to entertain the 6 or 7 thousand people massed in front of them. After we'd gone through our full repertoire singing all the players names, the chant went up "1st team 1st team give us a song", followed by a lot of ssshhhing.
Gary Kelly took up the challenge and motioned everyone to keep quiet before yelling out "Let's Go F***ing Mental" which after we'd stopped laughing everyone enthusiastically joined in with. After a couple of minutes of this it calmed down and the chant went out again, "Gary Gary give us a song".
As we all stand there in silence waiting, Kells has a discussion with the rest of the team and walks back in front of us and yells out; "Sit down if you hate the Scum" and promptly sits down on the grass and the rest of the team behind him follow suit. Of course we all join in and 7000 asses plonk themselves down on the dirty plastic seats. Probably not behaviour the FA would probably encourage but bloody funny.
Smith was the next to be called forward and started us off with "We're Leeds and we're proud of it" before Bowyer stepped forward to take his turn. The silence descended and Lee started us of with; "Ogo Bogo Nawar Grumph" or something like that. A stunned silence continued for a couple of seconds, before 7000 people went "Eh" and as an embarrassed LeBowya scuttled back behind his laughing team-mates as the chant of "What the f***ing hell was that" started up. This seemed to dampen the players enthusiasm for their cheer-leading careers and they soon wandered off to leave Risdale to start off "Marching On Together".
After about 45 minutes we were eventually let out but didn't get very far as the Milan riot police managed to firstly lead us in a big circle around the ground - thanks for the photo opportunities lads - before starting a stop start march to the metro. This meant it was well after midnight and nearly 2 hours after the game had finished before we even got to the local metro station. I know they probably didn't want thousands of Leeds fans in the city centre while the bars were still open, but this was overkill.
The police even accompanied us onto the metro, batons and riot shields all present and correct and were still there when we got off at the last stop. For a while we thought they were going to follow us all the way back to the hotel and stand guard outside our rooms all night. However, we shook them off by the time we got back to our neighbourhood pub which after a bit of persuasion managed to find some beer for us. After a couple of drinks it was back to the hotel where we were leapt on by the other half of our party who had already got back to the hotel and were well into celebratory mode. We'd also managed to pick up a couple of stray Leeds fans with nowhere to stay who slept on our floors, after we'd checked under the bed for riot police.
Thursday morning and plenty of time for some more sightseeing and pizza, the castle's quire nice, before heading home. Shame that thanks to the wonders of the British transport system, the Milan to Stansted part of the journey took less time than the final 25 miles home from Stansted, though at least no bits fell off of the train like they did on the plane back. Still couldn't ruin another good trip, a great result and hopefully plenty more of both to come.
Valencia, Sturm Graz and Paris SG please UEFA.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 08/11/2000.
Leeds United's joy is Catalonia's anguish. The adventure goes on for David O'Leary and his youthful players after sending Barcelona kicking and screaming to the Champions League guillotine last night.
Barcelona beat Besiktas 5-0 at a half-full Nou Camp but it was Leeds, in the words of their manager David O'Leary, who produced a "miracle" by progressing. And who can say Leeds do not deserve it? They have displayed a maturity in Europe that has belied their tender years - and this was their finest moment.
The sums were simple. If Leeds could avoid defeat they would gatecrash tomorrow's draw on Milan's coat-tails and European football would be shaken by the news that Barcelona's Champions League business was over already over.
Copy from The Independent of 08/11/2000.
They will scarcely credit it in Barcelona, but the demoralised, depleted rabble they routed in the Nou Camp only two months earlier have pipped them for a spot in the lucrative second phase of the Champions' League. Leeds will take their place in tomorrow's draw in Geneva and deservedly so after a spirited rearguard action against Milan last night.
The result means that, for the first time, all three English clubs have reached the last 16. Leeds even harboured hopes of advancing as Group H winners and of becoming the first English club to beat Milan at home after surviving a penalty by Andrei Shevchenko midway through the first half and going ahead through Dominic Matteo seconds before the break.
Although the Brazilian winger Serginho disabused them of such notions with 22 minutes remaining, a Leeds team superbly led by Lucas Radebe held out without too many alarms. Their only disappointment was a late caution for Olivier Dacourt, who now misses their next match in the competition.
On being informed that Barcelona's president, Joan Gaspart, had reportedly condemned Milan for lack of effort, O'Leary said pointedly: "I couldn't really care less what they say and I wish them well in the Uefa Cup. I'm delighted for everyone associated with this club, for my mum and dad, my kids and everyone back home."
Afterwards the Leeds players emerged into an otherwise deserted stadium to celebrate their success with 6,000 delirious supporters, their largest following in Europe since the Champions' Cup final in Paris 25 years ago. Local interest was less fervent, with large swathes of the ground empty, although Barcelona can be assured that Milan strove hard for victory and subjected their visitors to considerable pressure.
Radebe, starting for the first time since that night of damage in Catalonia, set the tone for Leeds' performance by dispossessing Serginho as he threatened to waltz through in the tense opening minutes. Serginho soon burned off Gary Kelly and Lee Bowyer before the former brought him down, Demetrio Albertini's free-kick flashing across the face of goal.
But with 26 minutes played, Milan's pressure produced a penalty. Kelly, policing Ser-ginho as he twisted and turned around the angle of the six-yard box, was adjudged to have handled the ensuing shot. Shevchenko's spot-kick went one way, Paul Robinson dived the other, but the ball struck the outside of the post before spinning away for a goal-kick.
Leeds had had their moments before taking the lead, notably when Ian Harte's swerving free-kick tested Dida's handling. Yet they were also indebted to Radebe for two last-ditch interventions as Shevchenko made his trademark runs, and to Robinson for parrying Serginho's drive as it loomed through a crowded area.
The breakthrough Leeds craved stemmed from a corner on the right, won by Mark Vid-uka and swung in to the near post by Bowyer. Matteo stole in front of his marker to send a glancing header just inside the upright. It was Leeds' first goal in Italy since Mick Bates scored at Juventus in the Fairs Cup final of 1971. In five other visits, from Torino in 1965 to Roma earlier this year, they had failed to find the net.
In the event, the blow fired up Milan, on and off the pitch. Robinson assumed his position for the second half against a backdrop of red flares which filled his goalmouth with acrid smoke. Leeds were pushed into ever deeper defence but never buckled or panicked.
The siege intensified after Alberto Zaccheroni, the Milan coach, sent on Zvonimir Boban. While the Croatian immediately saw a goalbound volley deflected away by Harte, the hitherto imperious Radebe came even closer to scoring when he sliced his attempted clearance from Serginho inches wide.
Boban's cross to Shevchenko led to a header which gave Robinson a chance to tip the ball over, demonstrating why the 21-year-old may well be back in Italy next week as part of England's squad in Turin. But Robinson was helpless after Demetrio Albertini released Serginho to run at Kelly, whose tackle he hurdled before angling the ball into the far corner. Leeds, however, merely redoubled their efforts and reaped their reward.
Copy from SportLive of 08/11/2000.
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The champagne had been on ice for two weeks but it was finally cracked open on Wednesday night as Leeds reached the final 16 of the Champions League in some style here at the San Siro.
Manager David O'Leary's dream of seeing his young players swap shirts with the mighty AC Milan in the knowledge that both sides had qualified from a group that also included one of the tournament favourites, Barcelona, became an emotional reality on the final whistle.
It was only a goal by world player of the year Rivaldo in the 95th minute of Barcelona's game at Elland Road that took the issue to matchday six of the Champions League.
But the Spanish giants' comfortable conquest of Besiktas in front of their own fans was rendered meaningless by Leeds' result last night. With all the allegations surrounding the match, Milan's approach to a game that was meaningless for them was always going to come under scrutiny.
Whether or not Barcelona really did offer the Italian side £1.6million to win the game, at least they seemed to be taking it a bit more seriously.
It did not prevent coach Alberto Zaccheroni from dropping Francesco Coco, Alessandro Costacurta, Christian Abbiati and Zvonimir Boban from his usual starting line-up, while O'Leary fielded the strongest side available to him.
This, too, was a far cry from the best 11 the Yorkshire club have on their books, with Jon Woodgate joining the likes of David Batty, Harry Kewell, Michael Bridges, Darren Huckerby, Michael Duberry, Stephen McPhail and Jason Wilcox on the sick list.
Skipper Lucas Radebe did return, having got the all-clear at the weekend after being restricted to just two starts in two months following two concussion injuries in the space of three weeks.
His handshake with Italian international Paolo Maldini before the kick-off was the just the first act of the sort of mutual respect that Barcelona feared.
O'Leary insisted before the game that his side would be looking for a win but while they did press down on the AC Milan goal on occasions, neither side showed much in the way of cutting thrust in the 31 minutes it took for Demetrio Albertini to produce the first save of the match. By that time goalkeeper Paul Robinson should have already have had to pick the ball out of the back of the net.
Controversial referee Kim Nielsen, who famously sent off David Beckham against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup finals, decided that Gary Kelly deliberately used his arm to stop Serginho's cross at close range and pointed to the spot.
It seemed a certain goal when Andriy Shevchenko sent Robinson the wrong way but to the amazement of Leeds' biggest travelling support for 25 years behind the goal, the ball hit the outside of the left-hand upright.
Barcelona fans must have feared some sort of gentleman's agreement but the incident seemed to spark a little bit of life into the encounter.
Three minutes after Albertini's set-piece effort, Ian Harte had a free-kick of his own saved by Dida, but that would not have been possible had Mark Viduka made the slightest of contacts as he just failed to deflect the ball under the nose of the Brazilian goalkeeper. The important thing for Leeds, though, was to keep a clean sheet but, unfortunately for the Yorkshire side, they were made to struggle by the scurrying Shevchenko.
Only a last-ditch block by the impressive Radebe prevented him giving Milan the lead six minutes before the interval and Robinson had to repeat the sort of form that kept Barcelona at bay for so long a fortnight ago to prevent Serginho ending a mesmerising run with a stunning goal three minutes later.
But the goal, when it arrived in the final minute of the half, was simplicity itself. Matteo pulled away from Roque Junior at the near post to meet Bowyer's perfect corner and his flick header beat Dida at the near post to send the visitors in with a surprise lead at the interval.
The sight of 6,000 fans at one end of the San Siro cheering throughout the half-time break waving their shirts around their heads would have been lost on the Leeds players sitting in the bowels of the stadium listening to O'Leary's half-time team-talk. But the cheer that greeted their return to the arena for the restart visibly lifted O'Leary's young side as they took their place in front of a wall of red flares held aloft by Italian fans.
When Shevchenko and Serginho both blazed good chances over the bar in the opening minute of the second half, they were reminded that they would have to work for their qualification, however.
Radebe somehow got in front of Olivier Bierhoff right in front of goal to head substitute Boban's free-kick away after 56 minutes, Ian Harte blocked the follow-up and Robinson did well to hold the German international's flick header as the ball was played back in.
The England Under-21 player was at full stretch again when he was tested by his own skipper Radebe whose important lunge at the ball was all that prevented Bierhoff again stealing in at the far post.
Shevchenko's header was more deliberate in the 65th minute but no less brilliantly saved as AC Milan continued to prove to Barcelona, themselves and the 52,289 crowd that they were certainly able to play for pride. The goal, then, was inevitable and duly arrived when Kelly missed his tackle on Serginho and this time Robinson could do little to prevent the Brazilian from firing a low hard shot inside his far post.
A late booking for Dacourt means he misses the next match. But when the final whistle went after just two minutes of stoppage time, Milan's goal was rendered academic and did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of O'Leary as he ran on to the pitch to congratulate his players and pay tribute to the Leeds supporters.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 09/11/2000.
BELLISSIMO! Leeds United marched into the second phase of the Champions League with a resolute, focused and wholly determined performance against Italian aces AC Milan in the San Siro last night.
David O'Leary's tigers of the trenches dug deep for the point they needed to earn their place in tomorrow's draw in Switzerland which will pit them against another trio of European highflyers.
Now United's assault on Europe will last at least until March and, unlike Barcelona, it will be in the Champions League and not the UEFA Cup.
Dominic Matteo scored two goals in 10 years at Liverpool before his £4.5m move to Leeds in August, but he equalled that tally for United in an appreciably shorter time with a brilliant header just before the break.
They survived a penalty and a classic equaliser to force their way into the Group H runner-up spot and not many teams will relish the prospect of being grouped with them.
United skipper Lucas Radebe made a timely return at the heart of defence and was partnered by Danny Mills after Jonathan Woodgate failed a late test on his damaged thigh muscle.
Rivaldo's late goal for Barcelona which prevented United from going into this match having already qualified for the second phase was the first O'Leary's mix and match rearguard had conceded in over six hours of Champions League football.
And both Radebe and Mills, short on match action recently, needed to be at their best in the face of quality strikers Oliver Bierhoff and Andriy Shevchenko.
Milan had never been beaten at home by an English team in European competition, with a record of six wins and four draws.
The Italians had scored in every European game in the San Siro since 1993.
And Leeds had never won in Italy in six attempts and scored in only one of them - 30 years ago in the Fairs Cup Final against Juventus.
The odds, then, were heavily stacked against them in arguably their biggest match in 25 years. For one of the world's great stadia the pitch was an absolute disgrace, with bare patches, divots and ruts all over the place.
United's 6,000 travelling fans were, as is usual on these foreign adventures, in tremendous voice and were not to be outdone when the customary Rossoneri flares greeted the teams.
Lee Bowyer, for one, was clearly fired up, shouting encouragement to all his teammates as Olivier Dacourt shaped to kick off.
Mills was given an early test by Shevchenko and did well under pressure to usher the ball back to Robinson. Then Radebe put an end to Serginho's swanky run with a telling tackle as United settled nicely.
Serginho was pulled down as he danced through Kelly and Bowyer but Albertini's free-kick flashed across the face of goal without a touch.
In the 12th minute Maldini crunched into Smith but Bowyer's free-kick was a poor one. Gattuso, though, needlessly conceded a corner, however, United were unable to capitalise.
It was the first of three successive flag kicks as United gained in confidence and when Roque Junior gave away a free-kick on the left Bowyer's effort was straight into Dida's hands.
With 25 minutes gone we had still to witness a shot on goal from either side but a minute later United's world threatened to cave in when Kelly handled as Serginho tried to shoot past past him and referee Nielsen immediately pointed to the spot.
Shevchenko's penalty, though, smashed against Robinson's right-hand post and United breathed again.
On the half hour Mills was adjudged to have pushed over Bierrhoff but Robinson dealt admirably with Albertini's well-struck free-kick from 25 yards.
Smith won a free-kick on the angle of the area in the 34th minute and though Harte hit it well Dida was equal to the task.
When Leonardo put Shevchenko through Radebe found a vital block and from the corner Bierhoff headed narrowly over.
Then the hugely dangerous Serginho brought a flying save from Robinson with an angled shot which was heading for the far corner United came back, though, with Viduka battling well to win a corner on the stroke of half-time. Bowyer's corner from the right was spectacularly headed home at the near post by Matteo.
On a cold night the priceless goal sparked wild, bare-top shirt-waving celebrations in the United crowd during the interval, with the prospect of a place in the second phase draw now very rosy indeed.
The Italians facing them were nonplussed.
Within a minute of the re-start Shevchenko, enduring a frustrating evening, ballooned his shot from a promising position then, when he fed Serghino, the Brazilian followed suit.
Bierhoff nodded the ball down for Gattuso to volley, but Robinson produced a fine save.
United were measured now, playing for possession and taking the ball to the corners to while away the time.
Robinson showed his alertness when holding on well to Bierhoff's point-blank header from close range, but he was mightily relieved to see Radebe's deflection from Serginho's cross go wide.
Substitute Boban's cross fell perfectly for Shevchenko, but his bullet header was saved in excellent style by the steadfast Robinson in the 65th minute.
But it had to happen and when the equaliser came it was always favourite to materialise through the exquisite Serginho who, in the 67th minute, took Kelly on the outside and walloped his angled shot into the far corner.
Leeds replied with a Viduka header straight into Dida's arms and a Dacourt free-kick which sailed over.
Serginho repeated his trick down the left but this time Robinson read his intentions as he went for a low shot inside the near post.
Dacourt's booking two minutes from time for a foul on Shevchenko rules him out of United's next European game.
That will be in a fortnight's time as United, continuing to defy many pundits, popular opinion and sometimes even logic, embark on another glorious escapade.