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Balance. Poise. Confidence. Commitment. Energy. Determination.
6 things missing on Saturday that somehow came out in the rain. Helped on massively by the return of Bakke and the introduction of Matteo, making the whole side hugely more balanced than 3 days earlier. Not only that, but sheer determination and effort from just about everyone, with no respect paid to what are a quality side (especially at the back where they shut us out for most of the game). I think we edged the game, especially first half and just about deserved the fine result. Waded back through about 8inches of water in the car-park afterwards...
Scores on the doors
Martyn: 8, Not too much to do, couple of good saves and touches, but
excellent distribution considering the elements
Great night, I didn't even mind queuing to get out of the official car park next to the Peacock (took me an hour)
It may have taken 27 years, but this wa sweet sweet revenge for Thessaloniki in May 73.
It was also, IMHO, one of the greatest EVER results and indeed performances from Leeds United.
Given..............very weakened team (2 players in who hadn't trained for weeks - 1 of whom was making his debut!.........Mills & Duberry [roundly condemned by all and sundry as total plonkers] facing Schevchenko & Bierhoff)..........recent results.......quality of opposition.........the occasion (1st ever Champs League game @ Elland Road)..............it was incredible.
For those who didn't get to see it, the lads gave a storming, battling, classy performance against a very impressive Milan side on a foul night of driving rain and slippery conditions. We lined up 4-4-2, with Bakke back in midfield, Matteo in for his debut on the left of midfield, and Mills & Doobs at centre back. Although we battled them brilliantly, and played some good football in patches, we didn't create many chances. In the first half, Bakke met a great Bowyer cross with a flying header 5 yds out, but just couldn't keep it down, and Matteo put in a great run and cross which the keeper flapped to Bakke, but he couldn't get a solid shot off. In the second half, Doobs headed a Bowyer corner just wide. They didn't have many chances either, until Schevchenko got free to run at the defence 3 or 4 times in the last 20 mins. He was stopped by either great covering tackles by both the CBs, or good saves from Martyn. It had been such a superb performance, and I was really pleased that we were holding Milan to 0-0......but as the game drew to a close, I was thinking that it was a shame we hadn't got some shots on target because their keeper looked very dodgy and the conditions were so wet. Then we worked the ball down the left, Bakke I think squared it to Bowyer who finally let fly from 35 yds. It was a well struck effort, but the keeper moved comfortably to his left to collect the ball just under the bar...........then he managed to drop it, and it span between his legs and over the line!!!!
And come on everybody.............we've got to give DOL some credit here. 1) He did a really good motivation job on those boys after the demoralising events of the previous 2 weeks. 2) His signings came good last night. Duberry and Mills proved themselves to be really valuable squad members last night...............and we are talking Champion's League v AC Milan here..............as indeed did Matteo.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 20/09/2000.
A speculative long shot from Lee Bowyer followed by an elementary error by Dida, Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper, brought Elland Road a famous victory in the Champions League last night. Against all the odds David O'Leary's half-strength team at first frustrated their vaunted opponents then beat them in the 89th minute.
Milan appeared to have achieved the scoreless draw which was always their principal ambition when Eirik Bakke accepted a throw-in from Ian Harte and squared the ball to Bowyer, who drove it goalwards from 35 yards. Dida had the shot covered and appeared to have saved it easily, only to allow the ball to slip out of his hands and over the line.
While no game should ever be considered a lost cause in advance Leeds went into last night's match facing odds which were unreasonable to the point of absurdity.
Copy from The Independent of 20/09/2000.
An elementary error by Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper, Dida, gifted Leeds an improbable victory as the Champions' League came to rainswept West Yorkshire last night.
With two minutes remaining, and both teams seemingly satisfied with a draw, Lee Bowyer's rising drive from 25 yards presented Dida with a simple catch. But he handled it like a greasy balloon and watched in horror as it squirmed over the line.
Leeds' win not only brought them their first points in Group H with back-to-back fixtures against Besiktas to come but also erased the hurt of Milan's success in the Cup-Winners' Cup final of 1973.
For Leeds, whose injury plight had forced David O'Leary to recall Eirik Bakke and give Dominic Matteo his debut after a single day's training, the main priority was to establish a more plentiful supply of possession than the 32 per cent they were allowed in Barcelona. They certainly achieved that aim, although Ian Harte's determination to keep the ball might have proved costly after only three minutes. Thomas Helveg dispossessed the Irishman as he considered his options and had a clear run through the inside-right channel, only to shoot too early and hit the side-netting.
Leeds' willingness to chase down every lost cause and harry their opponents at every turn exemplified by Michael Duberry's crunching challenge on Andrei Shevchenko raised the decibel level among fans who had made their displeasure plain after Saturday's home embarrassment by Ipswich. As their midfield ascendancy grew, so the chances began to materialise.
A 17th-minute cross by Matteo led to a loose clearance by Alessandro Costacurta as he came under pressure from Alan Smith. Bakke, seizing on the loose ball 18 yards out, scuffed his shot, but Leeds were clearly encouraged.
Strangely, it was on the left of Milan's defence, where the imperious Paolo Maldini was stationed, that the visitors looked most vulnerable. Gary Kelly had already delivered some probing crosses, and following a short free-kick midway through the first half, Bakke headed Bowyer's centre narrowly too high.
Almost the only save worth the name that Nigel Martyn had to make before the interval came after he miskicked Duberry's back-pass and had to punch clear as Andres Gugliel-minpietro closed in.
A yellow card for Francesco Coco for felling Bowyer was indicative of Milan's difficulties in the face of Leeds' right-wing raids. Bakke soon received the same punishment following an ill-timed tackle on Demetrio Albertini on an increasingly treacherous surface.
It reflected credit on Leeds' makeshift central-defensive duo, Duberry and Danny Mills, that Milan's vaunted attackers did not trouble Martyn until Oliver Bierhoff steered Albertini's corner into the goalkeeper's grasp early in the second-half.
Another Oliver, Dacourt, became the driving force as confidence began to seep back into the Leeds ranks. They would have hoped for more set-pieces around the danger area. A rare corner flighted by Bowyer, highlighted the potential with Duberry heading over. A booking for Maldini, after he had impeded Smith, was a sure sign that Milan were discomfited.
However, Leeds understandably tired and Milan began to counterattack ominously. Shevchenko, in particular, waged a one-man vendetta against Martyn, who excelled to keep out two vicious goalbound drives but was grateful to Mills for the perfectly judged sliding tackle with which he prevented the Ukrainian from taking aim after he had broken clear.
Copy from SportLive of 20/09/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Leeds manager David O'Leary had demanded courage from his players, They responded with a defiant display at Elland Road on Tuesday night.
And their bravery was rewarded when Milan goalkeeper Dida handed them victory with a shocking last-minute error.
The Brazilian had Lee Bowyer's speculative 25-yard shot covered all the way, only to drop the ball and see it trickle through his legs and into the net.
And with Barcelona losing in Besiktas this much-needed win has put Leeds back in contention in this demanding group.
After the drubbing they suffered in the Nou Camp, Leeds knew they had to at least avoid defeat to stand any chance of challenging for a place in the second phase of the Champions League.
Remarkably Milan, five times winners of the European Cup, had never won on English soil in nine games over a period of nine years. And it had been 27 years since they scored a goal in this country. In contrast in six matches against Serie A opposition since the Sixties Leeds had not been beaten.
Leeds captain Lucas Radebe had not recovered from the head injury he suffered in the 4-0 defeat by Barcelona and with Stephen McPhail also missing Leeds were without seven full internationals, a list which crucially still included Harry Kewell and Jon Woodgate.
Dominic Matteo, the recent £4.5 million signing from Liverpool made his debut while Eirik Bakke came in for McPhail. Matteo was slotted in on the left hand side of the midfield with Danny Mills asked to replace Radebe at the centre of defence.
As for Milan, well, they might have been without brilliant Argentine midfielder Fernando Redondo but they could still afford to leave a player of Brazilian Leonardo's quality on the bench.
That emphasised the depth of their squad so it was a significant test of the talent and temperament of O'Leary's young side.
Their initial response was encouraging. The driving rain had made the surface sodden, creating conditions for a scrap rather than the patient measured approach Milan prefer.
Leeds were not shy when it came to putting their foot in and made good use of the greasy top with a series of sliding tackles aimed at putting Milan out of their stride. Last week their attempt to unsettle Barcelona in the early stages failed miserably - Leeds just couldn't get close enough to Rivaldo and co. But last night they were more successful in breaking play up.
Michael Duberry, who struggled so badly against Barca, was timing his challenges much better, notably in the 15th minute when he stole the ball from Andrei Shevchenko legally but left the Ukrainian striker, who had been cast as Leeds's tormentor, clutching his ankle.
It was as if Duberry wanted to test Shevchenko's mettle and for much of the first half the former Dynamo Kiev player was a peripheral figure. Certainly that vignette seemed to give Leeds confidence they need not be in awe of their opponents as they had been last week.
And around the 20th minute they twice came close to taking the lead. First Milan failed to clear a Matteo cross and the ball fell to Bakke on the edge of the area. He poked rather than stroked his shot, Dida still couldn't hold it but Michael Bridges couldn't react quickly enough to pounce on the rebound before Dida had smothered it at the second attempt.
Then from a short free-kick Bowyer sent over a teasing cross from the right but Bakke glanced his header over from eight yards. He ought to have done better.
Milan were then incensed by a stern challenge by Bakke on Demetrio Albertini. The Norwegian was booked but the steel he had brought the heart of the Leeds midfield was a significant factor in their improvement.
Milan were became increasingly frustrated at the way Leeds were stopping them playing, a task made ever easier by the rain which had now created puddles on the pitch.
It wasn't purely a case of bark and bite by Leeds. When they had the ball they did their best to manipulate the ball around the pitch. But Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta were as ever imposing figures at the back.
In the 58th minute, however, neither could prevent Duberry storming on to a Bowyer corner from the left, but from six yards the centre-half wastefully headed over.
In the 63rd minute Shevchenko at last justified his reputation when he pounced on a mistake by Gary Kelly, and hit a glorious 25-yard drive but Nigel Martyn was well placed to tip the ball over.
Five minutes later Kelly again gave the ball away to Shevchenko who raced clear but was stopped as he shaped to roll the ball beyond Martyn by a superbly well-timed tackle by Mills. Shevchenko was denied a third time shortly after when Martyn turned his angled shot around his post.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 20/09/2000.
PASSION, not fashion, dominated the Elland Road catwalk as the fancy Dans of Milan came to play in an unrelenting torrent.
The elegance of their designer players was swept aside by the good old-fashioned Yorkshire features of a heavy pitch, heaving tackles and an even weightier commitment.
In the end it took a goalkeeping error of farcical proportions to separate the sides, but there was no doubting that the priceless three-point booty went to the team with the healthiest appetite for battle.
This was a refreshed, reinvigorated Leeds; a side bolstered as much by a return to a classical 4-4-2 as the return of the mightily impressive Eirik Bakke and a splendid debut by Dominic Matteo, the £4.5 million import from Liverpool.
The 4-3-3 set-up recently favoured by manager David O'Leary simply has not been working and it assuredly would not have brought this result, so unexp-ected in so many quarters.
So what, besides the change in formation, did? As well as Bakke and Matteo, there were sterling central defensive displays by Michael Duberry and Danny Mills, a typically energetic effort from Lee Bowyer and a terrier-like performance from Olivier Dacourt.
The Italians were mainly disappointing, though there was a period midway through the second half when the feared Andriy Shevchenko threatened to cause chaos.
That he was prevented from doing so speaks volumes for the concentration, alertness and downright feistiness of both Duberry and Mills, a kingpin pairing that was revelationary in its unexpected manifestation.
Milan flexed their muscles early when Bierhoff took a nodded pass from Guly and blasted high over, then Helveg's shot after he had robbed a pensive Harte nestled in the side netting.
But United won a free kick on the left and Bowyer's cross only just evaded Bridges.
Matteo's cross from the left had Milan in disarray and after Smith had narrowly failed to connect with his header Bakke thundered in a shot which was blocked. The Italians were being unsettled by some snappy but legal challenges, notably from Duberry on Shevchenko, and United almost stole ahead in the 20th minute when Bowyer crossed from the left and Bakke met it with a powerful header which narrowly cleared the bar.
The reply was from Albertini, who wriggled through but could only toe-poke his shot into Martyn's arms.
Bridges teed up Bakke for a volley which Dida collected and United were beginning to enjoy the task.
Kelly whipped one over from the right and new boy Matteo headed just wide at the far post but then, when Bowyer was scythed down by Coco, United contrived to mess up the free kick opportunity in a promising position.
Within a minute of the restart Albertini's corner found Bierhoff, but he could not get enough purchase on his shot and Martyn gathered.
At the other end Duberry was first to Bowyer's corner, but his header looped over. Harte tried his luck with a long-range shot on the hour but it was always going wide.
It was Nigel Martyn to the rescue on 64 minutes when Shevchenko went through and unleashed a thunderous shot which the keeper neatly turned over.
The dangerous striker then demanded an inch-perfect tackle from Mills as he again bore down on goal and, not yet finished, fully tested Martyn with a drive to the near post.
Maldini joined the fray with a right-foot shot from distance and 15 minutes from time Mills was penalised for flooring Shevchenko 25 yards out and in front of goal.
Thankfully Albertini's drive crashed against the wall, but Mills got himself into trouble again when mishitting his clearance right into the path of Shevchenko who, instead of going alone, passed to the offside Bierhoff.
In the 88th minute Bowyer, seeing few options in front of him, decided to have a crack from 25 yards and what happened next was as comical as it was decisive.
Dida, the Brazilian international goalkeeper, appeared to have it well covered and, just as everyone waited for the kick upfield, it was double takes all round as he let the ball slip from his grasp and it squirmed into the net.
Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni excused him, saying: "It was one of those things that happens and you just cannot bargain for. He had not had a busy game and maybe his concentration had lapsed."
"But I am not blaming him. I am not blaming any of my players for the defeat. They competed well and I am certainly not worried at this stage about our going through from this phase. There is a lot of football to be played and a long way to go."
This was an extremely swift recovery by Leeds from recent ills. It was a massive result which provides a solid base for further progress.