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An early morning departure for myself & my ravelling companion Alan Lyon, an "Aberdeen White" saw us arrive at Leeds/Bradford airport for our 9:00 am check in for the trip to Istanbul.
A slight delay in departure (mainly due to people not leaving the bar) and a pleasant 3hr 25min flight (no alcohol) and we were in sunny Istanbul.
We were kept waiting on the tarmac while Galatasaray went thru customs before being driven to what appeared to be the back door of the arrivals lounge. On entering we were met by what appeared to be half of Turkish TV. Plenty of flag waving (and some "I'd rather be a ..... etc) before Peter Ridsdale came in with a cheery word & a handshake for all.
Loads of police around and we were herded to the passport control. Once thru there several of us then had to hand over our passports again so they could be videotaped (I kid you not). Although we asked what this was for we got no answer.
We were then led out of the airport to our buses, the rest of Turkish TV was outside.... The buses took us to a local marina for our sightseeing trip up the Bosphorus. Turkish TV was waiting there already and we boarded our cruise(?) boat.
By the time we left the marina it was dark so we could see nowt & the temperature dropped rapidly. The cruise took two hours (two long cold boring hours). The whole cruise was filmed from a helicopter & and a boat and televised live on local TV. They must have some real s***e on TV in Istanbul.
We eventually disembarked about 200 yds from the ground. We then had to gat back on the buses for the 200 yd journey accompanied by policenam running alongside the buses. Only one arsehole seen making cut throat gestures, next to the other arsehole holding a Scum scarf.
Inside the ground with 15 mins to spare before the match.
The match itself was awful, one real chance after 4 mins which Bakke passed to the keeper instead of blasting high into the net and that was that. Bridges was elbowed in the face and somehow managed to knacker his ankle.
Robinson had nowt to do but still flapped badly at crosses/catches etc.
The defence were more at sea than us earlier on our cruise.
Midfield was awful. Bakke had a stinker, Burns looked out of his depth, Matteo carried on his downward spiral of performances and Boweyer was once again stuck on the right.
Up front when Bridges was on Viduka actually looked ok, once Bridges went off and Forest came on he couldn't be arsed and spent the rest of the game making half hearted attempts to get somewhere near the ball/or not. Forest WAS Forest.....
McPhail came on for Forest for the last five minutes and I don't think played a bad ball.
Kept in after the game for 25mins then straight back to the airport under police (& of course Turkish TV) guard & straight thru to the plane (Duty Free was out of bounds).
A pleasant flight (alcohol allowed), and one crap landing later and I was home for 5:30.
All in all an interesting experience but not one I would like to try again. We were told that Leeds had arranged for us to spend the afternoon in a bar/restaurant outside Istanbul but the British Consulate stepped in & arranged/paid for the boat trip.... bastards.
0-0 away from home in Europe doesn't sound like a bad result, and although the stats show we only had one shot on goal, Leeds produced a creditable performance and dominated over half the game. But we did have to endure a good 20 minutes of siege as Besiktas applied the pressure, even though Paul Robinson was never really stretched.
A Leeds game wouldn't be complete if it didn't have yet another injury to a senior player, so it wasn't a great surprise to see the stretcher come out for Michael Bridges after 25 minutes when he caught his studs in the turf and went down in a painful heap. Earlier Ian Harte had ended up on the wrong side of the advertising hoardings, and looked a bit dodgy for a few minutes after his return. Add this to the continued absence of Olivier Dacourt, and the long-termers (Batty, Kewell, Wilcox, Duberry, Radebe) and DOL was rightly satisfied with the point: it should guarantee us passage into the UEFA Cup at least.
The line-up wasn't too surprising, with the possible exception of Jacob Burns retaining his place, when Stephen McPhail and Matthew Jones were both apparently fit. In the end, that looked like being a good call, since he is clearly up for it, and covered a lot of ground in midfield and defensively. On the down side, he is still a little naive with some of his challenges, and gave away two or three free kicks that would have had DOL tearing his hair out.
Jon Woodgate had a towering game at the heart of the defence, but Danny Mills continues to impress at centreback, and although Matteo, Bakke and Burns don't constitute the most attacking midfield we've ever fielded, they were solid, and supported the front two well for most of the game. Lee Bowyer was a close second in the man-of-the-match stakes, and although he occasionally let his temper get the better of him, he was a constant threat on the right side of midfield. Paul Robinson had a competent game, although he could have come off his line a bit more and was rarely challenged - let's hope he has as easy a time of it on Saturday. Mark Viduka "and his large backside" (Radio 5 commentators) held the ball up well, and Darren Huckerby did his usual trick of failing to take the ball with him when he went past the defence. Still, Hucks' pace did give them something to think about.
Overall Man of the Match was probably Munch - he looked very useful, getting forward and putting in some very intelligent crosses - it's a shame we didn't test their keeper as much after he'd had such a shaky game in the first leg. Mehmet had a very good chance and failed to realise how much time he had before blazing over the bar. Ahmet was very lucky not to be booked for diving, as was Tayfur for persistent fouls and abusing the linesman - but the ref was pretty even-handed and did all he could to maintain an even temper to the game - and for once UEFA will probably be happy that his cards stayed in his pocket.
Where do we go from here? Well, a win at home to Barca will put us through. But I'm still a bit pessimistic/realistic - if we manage a draw, then Barca will need to beat Besiktas in the Nou Camp to pip us for 2nd place, which shouldn't be beyond them. Whatever happens, we should have the chance to progress in the UEFA Cup, and in this group and with all the injuries we've suffered this year, that's a pretty good achievement of which DOL and Peter Ridsdale can be rightly proud.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 19/10/2000.
Leeds United will not be returning to Istanbul in a hurry but the vitriol here last night did little to put them out of their stride.
With the Inonu stadium drenched with bilious tension, David O'Leary's team set about the job in hand with admirable measures of dignity and composure to nullify their opponents and suffocate this match into a draw.
As Besiktas became increasingly frustrated, there were outbreaks of violence in one of the stands but thankfully there were no Leeds fans involved and the police soon broke up the trouble.
Copy from The Independent of 18/10/2000.
Leeds United and their followers will never be able to think fondly about Turkey's footballing capital, but at least their return to the city where two of their supporters died six months earlier passed off peacefully and with the reward of a point towards qualification for the second phase of the Champions' League last night.
Had Milan been able to hold on to their 3-2 advantage over Barcelona, Leeds would have gone into next Tuesday's confrontation with the Catalan outfit needing only a draw to be sure of advancing. In the event, David O'Leary's patched-up team still lead Group H but may need a win to be certain, with only a trip to San Siro remaining thereafter.
They can be assured of an infinitely tougher test of their abilities than the one provided by Besiktas. For all the macho posturing of a vociferous crowd, Istanbul's "third" club proved less than intimidating foes on the pitch. Paul Robinson, deputising for Nigel Martyn, was never called upon to prove his agility in a game which bordered on the banal.
Only 138 officially sanctioned Leeds supporters, almost certainly the club's smallest away following since before the Don Revie era, watched the game. Having landed in the afternoon, they were whisked away by bus to a boat on the Bosphorus which they adorned with a flag inscribed "LUFSea" and were escorted into the ground only 20 minutes before kick-off.
Their late arrival was deliberately scheduled by the Turkish authorities with Leeds' agreement. It meant they had no opportunity to lay flowers in Taksim Square, where two fellow supporters, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, were stabbed to death before the Uefa Cup semi-final with Galatasaray in April. A bouquet of white roses left during the morning by the editor of Leeds' club magazine had been hastily removed.
The Leeds players were greeted with jeers and whistles, although the hostility was no more marked than when Manchester United visit Elland Road. Among those to whom the decibel level might have been unusually high, however, were the reserve goalkeeper, Robinson, and the Australian midfielder, Jacob Burns, both of whom made their European debuts.
Leeds, who had beaten Besiktas 6-0 at home, started strongly and should have led after five minutes. Lee Bowyer's free-kick from the left somehow made it through a congested penalty area to the far post, where Eirik Bakke waited unmarked. Perhaps surprised to receive such an opportunity, Bakke drove the ball straight at Ike Shorunmu from six yards.
Already without seven injured or suspended players, Leeds suffered a fresh blow midway through the first half when Michael Bridges crashed to the turf as he chased a through-ball with Tayfur Havutcu. The crowd's derision made it clear they felt the striker was faking, but he left on a stretcher clutching his right leg and was replaced by Darren Huckerby.
Besiktas showed glimpses of the flair that earned a 3-0 win over Barcelona, but Robinson had to make no more than routine saves during the first half. Leeds, indeed, created the only other half-chance, which Mark Viduka volleyed into the side-netting from what looked an offside position.
Most of the home attacks foundered on the makeshift central-defensive duo of Danny Mills and Jonathan Woodgate, the latter also making his first appearance in the Champions' League proper. When they were caught out by Nihat Kahveci's lobbed pass in the 48th minute, Mehmet Ozdilek, also looking suspiciously offside, headed wide.
Leeds did not support Viduka from midfield as effectively as O'Leary might have liked. Nevertheless, the former Celtic centre-forward often gave them vital possession by holding the ball up, on one occasion fending off a succession of challenges before feeding Bowyer on the overlap. Bowyer, dispossessed by Markus Münch, appealed half-heartedly for a penalty, though, in truth, it was a textbook tackle.
The drums of the Besiktas supporters pounded less insistently and their songs carried less venom as an attritional contest wore on. Yet while it became increasingly difficult to fathom how Nevio Scala's side had managed to humiliate Rivaldo and company, Leeds' own passing left much to be desired at times.
Fortunately for O'Leary, the same could not be said of their commitment. Burns, a £200,000 recruit from Paramatta, epitomised their willingness to harry Besiktas at every turn. Leeds may, however, come to view the occasion as one on which two points were lost rather than one gained.
Copy from SportLive of 18/10/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
If it was not quite the hellish experience here which Leeds had feared, at least the point gained means that Leeds' chances of progressing in the European Cup now seem to rest on beating AC Milan and Barcelona over the next fortnight.
David O'Leary's young team showed great maturity but have still left themselves a lot to do.
This should, however, have guaranteed third place in Group H and a place at least in the UEFA Cup.
There had been a profound sense of tension, trepidation even, lingering around the Ionu stadium for more than two hours prior to kick off
Even if the build up to the game has been calm, there remained a nagging doubt that the tiniest of sparks would cause trouble.
Despite a substantial security presence the more extreme elements of the Besiktas fans could not stop themselves from attempting to provoke anyone who looked vaguely English.
A bus carrying the media contingent proved an irresistible target and was duly stoned. And when the Leeds players took to the pitch 90 minutes before the game they were given early warning of the intimidating atmosphere they would endure.
Besiktas fans in an already half-full stadium delighted in demonstrating a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon profanity with the chant of "Leeds United **** you" to the tune of Queen's We will rock you. Charming.
The club itself might have gone to great lengths to build bridges with Leeds since they arrived here on Tuesday.
After the tragic events of last April when two Leeds fans were murdered in Istanbul prior to the UEFA Cup semi-final against Galatasaray they were entitled to. But clearly any spirit of fraternity was lost on most of the Besiktas masses.
Football in Istanbul stirs something more than fervent passion, especially when an English team comes to town.
Inevitably the 138 Leeds fans who made the journey and had spent three hours in a boat on the Bosphorus for their own protection, were greeted by screams of derision as they took their seats in a segregated area to the side of one of the goals which was heavily guarded by armed police.
O'Leary had attempted to focus his players by taking them to the centre of the field to take it all in, and as he walked back to the dressing to deliver his team talk he offered a defiant stare towards to vibrating stands.
It was essential the Leeds players did not allow themselves to be fazed by the surrounds if they were to come through the experience with their Champions League campaign enhanced.
Not easy when the most experienced player was 26 year old Dominic Matteo. But Leeds began with admirable composure, even if Lee Bowyer could not bring himself to shake Sulun Yasin's apologetic hand after being pulled back.
In the fifth minute Leeds ought to have given themselves the comfort of a lead. Matteo flicked on a Bowyer free kick from the left to find Eirik Bakke unmarked at the far post six yards out. He opted to guide the ball side footed rather than blast it from six yards - a decision which proved no problem for goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu.
But Leeds maintained their momentum despite a increasingly niggly edge to the game, which clearly emerged in the 25th minute as Michael Bridges chased a pass.
He was not fouled, but twisted his ankle and was clearly in distress. Leeds assumed Markus Munch would roll the ball into touch, but he passed it forward instead.
Leeds who had stopped playing were incensed, even though by then Dutch referee Jan Wegreef had blown his whistle and registered their feelings to Munch in particular.
Tempers calmed quickly, but as Bridges was taken back the dressing room on a stretcher he was the target of bottle thrown from the main stand. Fortunately it missed. Darren Huckerby came on as sub.
Besiktas suddenly started to ask some questions of the Leeds defence and examine England Under-21 goalkeeper Paul Robinson, making his European debut in place of the injured Nigel Martyn.
His handling look assured, but in the 32nd minute there was a flash of uncertainty when Miroslav Karhan produced a remarkable looping backheel from the edge of the area. But Robinson judged the situation well, in the end tipping the ball away from a corner as it threatened to dip under his crossbar.
Besiktas then began to display more purpose and invention, not least in the 47th minute when Kahveci Nihat produced a clever chip beyond Jon Woodgate into the path of Ozdilek Mehmet.
He had the time to take the ball down, turn and strike from 14 yards, but instead ducked under the ball and headed tamely wide.
Seven minutes later Mehmet returned the compliment but the attentions of Woodgate were enough to force Nihat to volley wildly over the bar.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 19/10/2000.
Positive result - despite the game
WHEN a match of mind-numbing tedium on the banks of the Bosphorus stuttered and staggered to its blessed end there was considerable cause for celebration in the United camp.
This precious, priceless point gives them one foot in the Champions League second phase and if quality was sacrificed for stubbornness on so important an occasion then the end fully justified the means.
It wasn't pretty, any of it. United missed a golden opportunity before nerves on both sides had time to settle and the Turks proceeded to demonstrate a waywardness and naivety that looked so out of place in the elite confines of this competition.
Turkish football is supposed to have come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade but if this is the best they have to offer at club level then the rest of Europe can sleep peacefully.
Roared on by a passionate, partisan crowd, their idols continually let them down with moves that, almost from the first touch, and almost without exception, looked doomed.
Jonathan Woodgate and Danny Mills had more than a little to do with that. This latest central defensive pairing gave absolutely nothing away all night, emerging the United heroes among a team which sensed from the outset that a point at least was there for the taking and collectively preserved that ideal throughout.
There was a turning point. Michael Bridges, so keen to make an impression on his comeback, was looking like he might be the one to come up trumps before he became the latest victim of United's injury jinx as early as the 23rd minute. He had been lively and threatening and had he stayed on United's 90-minute statistic of just one shot on target would surely have taken on a different look.
Leeds started, excepting Bridges up front for the suspended Alan Smith, with the team which finished Saturday's 3-1 Premiership defeat of Charlton at Elland Road.
That meant European debuts for both goalkeeper Paul Robinson and Australian midfield import Jacob Burns.
Recent form lines could not have been more contrasting, with Leeds scoring 13 goals in winning their last three matches and Besiktas shipping a dozen in three straight defeats.
Local punditry had it that this weekend's league clash with fierce Istanbul rivals Galatasaray carried more importance for Besiktas and their fans than a Champions League match in a tournament they know they cannot win.
But there was the small matter of some pride to be salvaged after their 6-0 mauling in Leeds three weeks ago.
And prospects for that did not look at all good when, after five minutes, Bakke seemed certain to score from six yards following Viduka's flick from Harte's free kick. But he could find no purchase on his shot and Shorunmu gratefully gathered.
Tayfur brought down Viduka on the right flank and from Harte's cross Matteo got in a header which drifted wide.
Nihat crossed for Mehmet to try a header as Besiktas pressed but that, too, was harmlessly off target.
Harte's 20th minute direct free kick was wide of the near post but by now Leeds had claimed superiority over a side which had shown no improvement on their woeful previous performance.
However it took a brilliant interception by Woodgate to prevent Ahmet's cross reaching the well-placed Dursun and Besiktas suddenly stepped up the pace.
On 23 minutes Bridges was writhing in agony with an ankle injury after falling awkwardly and had to be replaced by Huckerby. Disgustingly, a bottle was thrown in his direction while he was being stretchered to the dressing room.
Dursun meanwhile, was too close for comfort with a dipping shot.
Woodgate was smartly in again to rob Yasin at the expense of a corner then Karhan's clever lofted backheel brought a last-gasp tip over the top by Robinson.
Nihat tried to walk the ball in but found Mills far too astute and when Bowyer brought down Mehmet United had to survive more pressure.
Robinson twice gathered well at the feet of Dursun and when Leeds came forward again Viduka hammered his shot into the side netting from Mills' fine pass.
Nihat sent Dursun on his way but after running across the face of goal he could find no power in his shot and honours were even at the interval.
Nihat was at it again at the start of the second half, his finely judged ball over the top finding Mehmet in oceans of room. But he rushed a header and Leeds were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Burns brought down Dursun 20 yards out in the 54th minute, but Nihat's blast was straight at the wall. Then the same player shot high over when well placed to do better.
What followed for the next half hour was a numbing void, broken only by a weak long-range shot from Yasin straight at Robinson and a tame header by Nihat straight into the keeper's hands. Besiktas' last throw of the dice brought two corners in quick succession, but they were unable to capitalise.
Rarely can a final whistle have been greeted with such stunned silence. And great anticipation of things to come.