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Copy from Football Unlimited of 25/10/2000.
Outstanding goalkeeping by Paul Robinson supported by sound, disciplined defending took Leeds towards a place in the next round of the Champions League last night after Lee Bowyer had given them an early lead and Barcelona, who faced elimination, had mounted a relentless second-half siege. But it was not to be.
Bowyer's free-kick, struck from the left-hand touchline, was missed by Richard Dutruel, the Barcelona goalkeeper - as elementary an error as the one by Dida which enabled Leeds to beat Milan in stoppage time.
As the match entered stoppage time Leeds reached the threshhold of victory but with three of the four extra minutes completed Rivaldo finally beat Robinson on the rebound after Gerard's header had hit a post. Leeds now need a point in Milan in two weeks to go through.
Copy from The Independent of 25/10/2000.
Even the Alamo was stormed in the end and, however well Paul Robinson impersonated Davy Crockett at Elland Road last night the Leeds United goalkeeper, like the Texan frontiersman, was beaten in the end.
His defiance had taken Leeds within seconds of a place in the second stage of the Champions' League, and pushed Barcelona to the brink of an ignominious exit, when Rivaldo, who had conducted a personal duel with the young Yorkshireman, finally forced the ball past him.
Until then Robinson, Jonathan Woodgate, Danny Mills and company had ignored the truth of their own manager's words and withstood quality with grit.
Leading through a freak fifth-minute goal from Lee Bowyer, they had been subjected to wave after wave of pressure by the desperate Catalans. Every attack was repelled bar the last, in the fourth minute of added time. Even that, had an exhausted Bowyer connected with a clearance, would have been resisted. Instead Philip Cocu was able to pick out Gerard in the box and, when his header rebounded from the post, Rivaldo slotted the ball home with a coolness whichbelied the pressure of the situation and underlined his class.
The Leeds manager, David O'Leary, said: "Their coach will say there should have been 10 minutes of added time [he later did] but I couldn't understand the four minutes. But there's no point in harping on about it. The ref gave it, they scored. That's life."
With Milan winning in Istanbul to go through, the equation is now simple. If Leeds lose in the San Siro on 4 November, and Barcelona defeat Besiktas in the Nou Camp on the same night, Leeds go out and Barcelona survive. With the Turks already out, it would appear that Leeds must do it for themselves. O'Leary added: "I think it's good Milan have qualified. I hope they look kindly upon us."
With matches against Bradford, Tranmere and Liverpool to be fitted in before then, O'Leary will be hoping his depleted team do not suffer any more injuries. Last night so many of Leeds' walking wounded had arisen from their sickbeds it was a surprise not to see Lazarus on the team-sheet, but how many were truly fit, rather than just patched up with Band-Aids and cortisone jabs, was a matter of guesswork. Their tiredness at the end suggested it was quite a few.
There was no lack of white-shirted energy 90 minutes earlier and, though Rivaldo, with a quick-footed slalom in the Leeds box, quickly demonstrated Barcelona's potency Leeds showed up their porous defence with equal alacrity. Abelardo, the erect but clumsy centre-back, was first to be exposed, felling Mark Viduka on Leeds' left flank. It was 25 yards out and by the touchline which meant the visiting keeper Richard Dutruel, like everyone else in the ground, expected a cross. He, however, was the only one embarrassed by his misjudgement as Bowyer whipped the ball over his head and inside the far post.
With Bowyer prominent, Alan Smith twice had chances to double the advantage but with his first shot deflected wide, and the second well saved, Barcelona survived to wrest control in midfield. A series of dangerous free-kicks were conceded over the next half-hour putting Leeds in dire peril of conceding goals and incurring cautions. Staunch defence, and alert goalkeeping by Robinson, notably a superb 22nd-minute save at the near post as Rivaldo glanced a Xavi free-kick, nullified the first threat. Lenient refereeing ensured only Olivier Dacourt fell foul of the second.
Leeds rallied late in the half with Bowyer, set up by Viduka, and the Australian himself, going close but the period's closing memory was a harbinger of the action to come, Robinson going full stretch to save a Rivaldo free-kick.
That was to become a familiar sight as, with Cocu orchestrating the attacks, Barcelona rolled forward. In between crosses by Simao and Luis Enrique from the flanks, free-kick after free-kick was conceded in the centre with Dacourt lucky to avoid a second caution.
Sheer weight of numbers, and an element of good fortune, prevented Barcelona having a clear sight of goal until the 59th minute, but they then seemed certain to score as Alfonso rose to Luis Enrique's cross six yards out. Robinson, though, was equal to the challenge, arcing to tip it over the bar. It was a brief respite for the 21-year-old soon had to beat away another Rivaldo free-kick while Ian Harte did well to block Xavi's drive.
As Elland Road counted down the minutes oh how slowly the big electronic scoreboard whittled them down Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, his job as coach of Barcelona slipping away, shuffled his pack. On came two of Spain's brightest young internationals, Dani and Gerard, but another youngster continued to hog the attention as Robinson leapt to save yet another Rivaldo free-kick.
With 14 minutes left even Robinson seemed beaten, and in the cruellest way imaginable, as Alfonso's deflected shot dribbled in. However, a linesman's flag came to the rescue:Rivaldo had strayed offside. Barcelona seemed out of luck and out of the Champions' League, but, when the fourth official signalled four minutes of injury time, they were roused to one final effort. This timeRivaldo could not be denied.
Copy from SportLive of 24/10/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
An injury-time goal by Rivaldo denied Leeds their greatest European result for over a quarter of a century on Tuesday night.
The Brazilian, who had tormented David O'Leary's men in the Nou Camp with two goals, fired home deep into time added on after a cross by Philip Cocu had been headed against a post by Barca substitute Gerard.
It was stirring, almost seismic stuff as David O'Leary's team, inspired by goalscorer Lee Bowyer and goalkeeper Paul Robinson, went so close to going into the second phase of the Champions League and knocking out their illustrious opponents in the process.
Leeds now go to the San Siro to play AC Milan in a fortnight, needing a draw to go through, but it was just six weeks ago when Barcelona had seemingly made any notion of them progressing to the latter stages of the competition laughable with an imperious 4-0 win at the Nou Camp.
Yet despite so much being stacked against them - an horrendous injury list and a squad who still lack depth - Leeds have managed to last the distance, a remarkable achievement in itself. But while O'Leary has consistently played down the aspirations of his "young boys", he has hoped all along they could make their mark as one of Europe's emerging sides.
The late win over Milan, then the emphatic victory here against Besiktas went some way towards doing that. But the challenge to really light up their name across the Continent was quite clear: a win which would take Leeds into the second stage.
The equation might have sounded simple but, as O'Leary has constantly reminded us, they were 'only' playing Barcelona.
Now while Barca might have inexplicably been beaten in Besiktas 3-0, where Leeds drew comfortably last week, they arrived in England brimming with pride at having beaten Real Madrid at the weekend.
Yet it took Leeds five minutes to test just how strong the nerve and resolve of this Barcelona team is when they find themselves up against it. Fernandez Abelardo clumsily fouled Mark Viduka wide on the Leeds left flank.
The dead ball was placed at an improbable distance and angle for a strike on goal. It was level with the 18-yard line but some five yards towards the touchline.
Bowyer, though, stepped up and struck the ball so sweetly with pace, curl and dip it completely confounded Barca goalkeeper Richard Dutruel. Although only a couple of yards off his line Dutruel found himself back-pedalling frantically. Hopelessly, in fact. His trailing hand as he dived Fosbury Flop fashion could not prevent the ball arcing beyond him and into the net.
Against Milan, Bowyer's winner had benefited from a more obvious example of dubious goalkeeping by Brazilian Dida but that should not detract from the finish. After all, had it been Rivaldo at the other end everyone would have been drooling.
Indeed within a minute Rivaldo had the opportunity to make an immediate response when Barcelona won a free-kick 22 yards out, but he shanked his shot and it bobbled wide.
Leeds, buoyed by their early goal, drew more strength from the sight of their tormentor in the first game being exposed as mortal after all.
And in the 11th minute they might have established a commanding lead had it not been for Dutruel redeeming himself.
Ian Harte swung over a super diagonal cross from the left to pick out Bowyer in the Barca box. With superb awareness and a deft touch he instantly set up Alan Smith, who drove a first-time shot across the face of the goal with some force.
It was destined for the far corner but Dutruel was agile enough to turn it wide. Barcelona responded by piecing together moves of typical finesse but this time Leeds were not overawed by their reputation and technique.
Bowyer was supremely influential in the midfield, always seeking to unsettle Barcelona when they were in possession but still with enough vigour and vision to instigate Leeds attacks.
He was well aided by Eirik Bakke and Olivier Dacourt, though there were times when Dacourt's challenges were a little over-zealous.
Bowyer might have given Leeds the cushion they so eagerly sought in the 38th minute when a clever pass by Viduka put him in space but Dutruel diverted the low shot away with his legs.
Essentially, though, Leeds concentrated on containing Barcelona. And their immense work rate and willingness to put a foot in kept Barca out of their stride in the middle of the park, while at the back Jon Woodgate and Danny Mills managed to ensure Rivaldo was kept relatively quiet in the first half.
Even then the Brazilian still produced two flashes of brilliance, but on both occasions England Under-21 goalkeeper Robinson emphasised his potential. In the 23rd minute he displayed stunning reflexes to divert a six-yard Rivaldo diving header around the near post.
Then just before the interval Rivaldo let fly with a free-kick from 35 yards which swerved wickedly on the wet surface but Robinson turned it past his left-hand post.
Barcelona knew they had to step up two gears if they were going to salvage the match and their participation in the competition. They tried but found a Leeds side determined to hold on to what they had. Not least Robinson who in the 58th minute produced another superb save when he tipped Alfonso's powerful 12-yard header over, then dived low to keep out another Rivaldo free-kick.
Remarkably Robinson denied Rivaldo yet again from another long-range free-kick as Leeds started to bite their nails. And their nerves were well and truly rattled in the 76th minute when Rivaldo was marginally ruled offside after deflecting Alfonso's shot beyond Robinson.
But, sadly for Leeds, the Brazilian had the last laugh.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 26/10/2000.
LIKE tightrope walkers completing a perilous journey, Leeds United's thrill-a-minute stars were just one small step from a glorious feat when, to a chorus of anguished cries, they slipped.
Their safety net is the UEFA Cup, but they will try their highwire act again next month in Italy where, hopefully, the prize of a place in the Champions League second phase will be ready for collection at the other end.
So nearly did they qualify last night, and with a game to spare at that.
But after enjoying the luxury of a fifth-minute lead, the twin foes of the Mickey Mouse watch worn by Norwegian referee Terje Hauge - now forever known as the Terje Hauge timepiece sported by the Disney character - and a certain individual known as Rivaldo combined to scupper a gutsy, determined Leeds.
The balance of what had been a fairly even contest until the interval tilted more heavily the Catalans' way with every passing minute of the second period when, ultimately, they laid siege to the United goal.
Some heavy artillery was thrown their way but United, with a back four which stood tall and firm and an excellent goalkeeper whose series of saves defied logic, simply would not relent.
Then, to the astonishment of everybody in the ground, stoppage time was deemed to be four minutes when two seemed more appropriate and a reinvigorated Barcelona lifted themselves for a mighty last effort.
That it succeeded, and gave them a Champions League lifeline as well as preserving the employment status of their coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, provoked a roar of "Cheat. . .cheat" and an unseemly end-of-match melee.
United gratefully welcomed back the quartet of Ian Harte, Olivier Dacourt, Danny Mills and Eirik Bakke as manager David O'Leary assembled his strongest available team.
And he received a further boost when striker Alan Smith passed a late fitness test on the ankle injury he picked up in Saturday's defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Leeds' first reverse in seven games.
The stakes could not have been higher for Barcelona, for whom defeat would have seen them eliminated from the competition. Their strength in depth was illustrated by the inclusion on the bench of Frank de Boer, Gerard, Dani and Santamaria.
In the very first minute Harte was presented with an ideal free kick opportunity and when his shot ricocheted off the wall Smith sent over a testing cross that Dutruel did well to hold on to.
When Barcelona countered Rivaldo danced through only for Harte to get in an important block.
And in the next attack, with only five minutes played, Lee Bowyer sent the United crowd into raptures with his direct free kick into the far top corner from way out on the left after Abelardo had checked Viduka.
Rivaldo was tamely wide with his free kick before Bowyer broke menacingly for Leeds only to run out of options.
Bowyer was in the thick of things again after 10 minutes, nudging on Harte's precise long pass to Smith, who demanded a diving fingertip save from Dutruel.
Smith won a free kick out on the right but Harte asked too much of those lined up at the far post with his skied delivery.
Luis Enrique turned defence into attack with a stunning dart downfield and when things opened up in front of him Harte was in with a vital interception.
Midway through the half Paul Robinson was the United hero, flinging himself to his left to keep out Rivaldo's goalbound header from Xavi's free kick.
Dacourt, by now in the referee's notebook, received a "calm down" order from the dugout as he clattered in again.
Kelly brought down Alfonso to the right of the box and Bowyer did well to block Sergi's well-struck shot at the expense of a corner.
Dacourt relieved a spell of Barca pressure by venturing forward with a shot which cleared the bar before Bowyer was denied by Dutruel's legs after some nifty footwork by Viduka opened up a chance.
Three minutes before the break Viduka rose well to Bowyer's corner but his header skimmed wide.
And in first half injury time Robinson confirmed his arrival in the top ranks with another blinding save from Rivaldo's 30-yard free kick, which was heading for the far bottom corner.
The opening period was as much as any United fan could have hoped for and, having continually frustrated the strutting elite of Barcelona, it was now a case for their heroes of holding their nerve and standing firm.
Viduka's immense strength won a corner on the right and Woodgate was only a whisker away from making contact with Bowyer's cross.
And when Alfonso got in a header from Luis Enrique's cross Robinson once again excelled with a flying save. The Spain international could not believe it and buried his head in his hands.
When Woodgate felled Alfonso there was potential trouble, but Rivaldo should have known what to expect with his free kick. Robinson, in irrepressible form, simply palmed it away.
In the 75th minute Alfonso's shot wriggled into the bottom corner but Rivaldo, who had got the faintest of deflections, was standing in an offside position and Leeds breathed again.
Leeds had more unbearable pressure to withstand in the kind of overtime which used to pay for miners' holidays. And there was a great gnashing of teeth when, with only seconds remaining, Cocu crossed, substitute Gerard's header hit the post and Rivaldo comfortably tucked home the rebound.
The equation is simple. Leeds must now take a point from the final Group H fixture against AC Milan in the San Siro on November 8 to guarantee further interest in European football's premier competition.