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Manchester United

Premier League
Game 10: Saturday 27 October 2001

Manchester United 1 - 1 Leeds United
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
Crowd: 67555
Referee: D J Gallagher (Banbury)
Leeds United
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Match Facts
Manchester United Team Leeds United
Fabien Barthez   Nigel Martyn
Mikaël Silvestre   Danny Mills
Gary Neville   Ian Harte
Laurent Blanc   Rio Ferdinand
Wes Brown   Dominic Matteo
Juan Verón   Olivier Dacourt
Booked - 58 minutes David Beckham   Eirik Bakke Booked - 40 minutes
Subbed - 76 minutes Booked - 75 minutes Nicky Butt   Lee Bowyer
Ryan Giggs   Robbie Keane Booked - 58 minutes Subbed - 71 minutes
Booked - 46 minutes Paul Scholes   Harry Kewell Subbed - 90 minutes
Ruud van Nistelrooy   Mark Viduka Goal - 77 minutes
Roy Carroll   Paul Robinson
Phil Neville   Jonathan Woodgate
Luke Chadwick   Seth Johnson
Sub - 76 minutes Goal - 88 minutes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer   David Batty Sub - 71 minutes
Dwight Yorke   Alan Smith Sub - 90 minutes
Match Reports
Robert Wood Foiled
BBC Solskjaer rescues Man United
The Guardian Leeds united with Manchester to put on a first class show
The Independent Solskjaer the saviour
The Observer O'Leary so disappointed Solskjaer rescues the champions - again
Soccernet It's Ole again
The Sporting Life Manchester United 1 - 1 Leeds United
The Sunday Times Solskjaer the saviour
The Electronic Telegraph Solskjaer has the final say
Yorkshire Evening Post United let Reds off!

The Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph now seem to require registration to view articles on their sites, with the Times and Sunday Times charging readers outside the UK. The Times/Sunday Times has also moved some of the older articles into an archive which requires separate registration and requires you to pay to access the content. The Independent now charges for access to articles more than a week old.

Foiled - Robert Wood

Wake up, roll out of bed, tram at Brooklands, four stops to Old Trafford. This should be my home game really, but you can't swap teams just 'cos you go and live somewhere else. ;-) As I stood among the Man U fans on the tram up to ToWD I felt like a French journalist in Afghanistan.

Beautiful sunny day in Manchester and almost the beautiful result we wanted. The goal came about ten minutes to early for us to sit back and let them come at us.

First half an hour or so Man U calved out chance after chance, but as the first half wore on you could see us getting in to the game - by half time we'd created out a few chances - the best of which was when Keane was out though with only Bartez to beat. As the netting bulged we thought for a brief moment...

...but, no just the side netting. (Can someone persuade Robbie to practice those situations please?)

The first half's a bit of a blur to me, but I do remember thinking that we could have done with Batty to hold things together in midfield rather than the anonymous Bakke - who seemed to have the game pass him by.

Second half started like the first ended, with Leeds on top for much of it. As the game wore on, we looked like the better side. Keane was everywhere and had a cracking game, he seemed to scare the life out of the defence at times. Kewell made a few fantastic mazy runs. Once picking the ball up well inside the Leeds half, skipping past four players and playing a simple ball to Bowyer, who after all that, couldn't play a simple five yard pass back to Kewell.

The game was end to end stuff, with each team having little pockets of play where they held on to the ball for a while - but Leeds' passages looked a little more threatening. One moved ended with a free kick to Leeds just outside the Man U box, the wall lined up, Keane popped up to shoot - straight in. Delirium though was short lived, for the ref, I can only assume, hadn't blown his whistle. Bollocks.

All this moments after Keane and Beckham had tangled. Beckham scythed down Keane, but Keane stupidly pushed Beckham over. Keane had to be off. Fortune favoured Leeds this time and inexplicably, the ref showed typical inconsistency, only booking Keane.

Finally, Batty stripped off his grey top to come on. Great - Batty for Bakke and a little more steel in the defence. But no, Keane, who did enough running for both him and Viduka once again was hauled off. Surely Viduka should've been subbed if a forward was to go off?

As it happens, good job he didn't! Kewell received the ball on the left, he whipped a cross through the area which somehow eluded everyone to find Viduka unmarked to fire the ball home. No offside flag, no infringement - we were off and going fcking mental.

Sadly, rather than continuing to play like we had, we sat back on the lead. Attack upon attack rained down on the Leeds goal. van Nistelrooy, Blanc and Solskjaer all going close. Eventually, Solskjaer - the bastard - found the net; Giggs with enough space to float a cross in to find the Noggie's head and he headed right across Nige and into the net.

They could easily have won it at the end. And if it wasn't for an outrageous save by Nige they would've. But that would have been a travesty for us. Still top of the league (if only for a few hours) and still unbeaten. Pretty good after having played Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U away and Chelsea at home. The defence is the key, someone like Robbie Fowler would, I reckon, turn the key.

Leeds united with Manchester to put on a first class show - David Lacey

Copy from Football Unlimited of 29/10/2001.

Man of the match: Rio Ferdinand. His excellence at the heart of his team's defence gave Ruud van Nistelrooy a testing afternoon. Best moment The long pass that Ferdinand dropped over the head of Laurent Blanc towards half-time.

Should anyone beyond the monocular world of the football fan seriously believe that there is only one United, Saturday's excellent contest at Old Trafford suggested that two of the breed will add a distinction to this season's championship that has been missing of late.

In drawing 1-1, and having each made a strong case for victory, the Uniteds of Manchester and Leeds offered the prospect of a return to the days of heavy drama when the teams of Matt Busby, Don Revie and Liverpool's Bill Shankly made the earth move on a regular basis.

With Liverpool and Arsenal (Manchester United's next Premiership opponents away from home) just as likely to stay the distance it would seem that this time football's heavyweight division is not going to become an Old Trafford bum of the week competition. Add in Aston Villa's steely progress to the top of the table and Sir Alex Ferguson's thought that "there might be five or six teams involved during April" looks something more than post-match chit-chat.

Read the rest...

Solskjaer the saviour - Nick Townsend

Copy from The Independent of 28/10/2001.

It was almost inevitable, really. The spectacle of Mr Emergency Service himself, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, arriving like an AA man with spanner to loosen Leeds' defence and secure his side a point in the dying minutes. Yet, for Leeds, it was a chastening moment. They had appeared to be on the point of securing their first victory here since 1981 and this was not the first occasion on which David O'Leary's men have been "mugged", as he put it, in this fixture.

Should they have done so, you imagine that the rumpus surrounding Robbie Keane's continued participation just before the hour following a second-half shove in the face of David Beckham would have developed into a commotion. Yet perversely - even O'Leary said "I thought he was lucky to stay on" - the referee, Dermot Gallagher, invited further criticism of officials' consistency this season by merely cautioning the Republic of Ireland international together with the England captain whose original challenge had incensed him.

O'Leary spoke later of his concern that Keane's indiscretion should not be allowed to conceal the fact that his team really should have secured all three points. "They were there for the taking," he declared. "It's not a bad thing to come away from Manchester United disappointed with the draw."

While that opinion was, frankly, open to debate, and Ferguson, for one, did not concur - defeat would have been "a travesty" he claimed - what was rather more important was the welcome evidence that the Premiership power struggle could still be in progress once spring arrives. And that, if the champion's trophy does ultimately change hands, it could well be transported east down the M62.

Even Sir Alex Ferguson conceded: "When you're top of the league at this time of the season, you can do that. It's looking very exciting." However, the Manchester United manager added: "Statistically, you find that two, maybe three, teams have run away with it by about February."

In away games against their most obvious title rivals, Leeds had already defeated Arsenal and drawn at Liverpool, here they had to survive a torrid opening period. United, despite the midweek eclipse of Olympiakos, still appeared to be bristling at that Bolton defeat last Saturday. Roy Keane's absence through injury was as much a psychological as a physical loss to Manchester United. The club's captain is now hoping to be back in time for the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualification play-off on Saturday week; as Ferguson said: "Even if Roy is not fit for our Liverpool game [next Sunday] I would let him play for Ireland in their play-off because it is so important to them."

Yet, for the first 20 minutes, O'Leary's men lived on their nerves as Beckham's free-kick produced a save of great elasticity from Nigel Martyn, who was excellent throughout, and Ryan Giggs, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes and Beckham again all went close. Beckham also struck a post.

But responding to the manic gesticulations from the former Manchester United assistant Brian Kidd on the sidelines, the visitors' self-belief returned and, by the end of the half, with Harry Kewell beginning to unsettle Gary Neville, just as his opposite number Giggs had troubled Danny Mills from the start, they were having the better of affairs. Early on, as an attacking force, Leeds had shown little, but now Mark Viduka went close with two headers and should have scored when Kewell's pass offered him space and time. Kewell and Robbie Keane were also not too far adrift with volleys.

The second half began with Scholes being cautioned within five seconds for a foul on Olivier Dacourt. Poison, a traditional constituent when these teams meet, was beginning to seep in. But it became ugly in the 57th minute when Beckham and Robbie Keane clashed after a late scything challenge from the former. After quelling the ensuing mêlée, the referee produced a yellow card for both.

"I had a right go at Robbie afterwards," said O'Leary, who last week against Chelsea was despatched to the stand for his comments following Paul Durkin's failure to dismiss Graeme le Saux. "When you raise your hands you leave yourself open to action. I thought the referee would give him a red card, and if it had been in a European game he would have gone." His counterpart, Ferguson, in relatively generous mood, added: "Should he have been sent off? There's no debate. But the ref failed to do that. He was silly, the boy, because he's not that kind of player."

As it transpired, the incident served as an incendiary device, transforming what had been a contest of much finesse but, in truth, played with rather too much politeness, into a final half-hour of almost brutal gladiatorial combat. Robbie Keane struck a beautifully flighted free-kick past Fabien Barthez, but had struck the ball before the referee was ready, and was made to retake it, this time without success.

He was replaced by David Batty, which could have indicated the hauling up of the Leeds drawbridge. Not a bit of it. O'Leary merely wanted to deploy Lee Bowyer further forward, the manager claimed. The visitors were in the ascendancy, with the home side again looking vulnerable to the counter-attack, and their enterprise was rewarded when Ian Harte's cross from the left found Viduka lurking on the far post and he drove the ball through Barthez.

Leeds made the cardinal error of withdrawing too deep, inviting Manchester United, bolstered by the introduction of Solskjaer, to attack them relentlessly. They were finally undone when Giggs centred from the left for Solskjaer to rise above Harte and head powerfully past Martyn. Ferguson's team might have won it, too, with Giggs' attempt being caught between Martyn's knees and Van Nistelrooy forcing another spectacular save from the goalkeeper. But Leeds held on, deservedly so, for a point, and to the belief that, by the time we turn the clocks forward again, their challenge will still be as strong as ever.

The report used to be available online here.

O'Leary so disappointed - Ian Ridley

Copy from Football Unlimited of 27/10/2001.

The desperation was almost tangible. The clock was ticking, the heart was beating, David Beckham was clenching his fists to urge Old Trafford to pump up the volume as a pulsating game wound down. Manchester United, a goal behind, were staring down the barrel of a massive defeat. Which means that Leeds United were looking at a massive victory.

Then came another moment from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a rescued point might even have been three in a dramatic period of added time. Turning points are usually only seen in hindsight but for both Uniteds, you had an immediate feeling that this was could have been one in their seasons.

For Mancunia, it would have been a third league defeat in only 10 matches to establish their worst start to a Premiership season. As it is, they have equalled it. As for Leeds, had they clung on to Mark Viduka's goal, they would have led United by five points. As it is, they have ceded their position at the top.

Read the rest...

United let Reds off! - Matt Reeder

Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 29/10/2001.

LEEDS UNITED will never have a better chance to kill their Old Trafford hoodoo and come away with the maximum spoils.

After 88 minutes of pulsating football they were leading by a Mark Viduka strike and looking odds on favourites to earn their first win at the Theatre of Dreams since 1981.

Playing on Top of the Pops that very weekend 20 years ago was the Bucks Fizz ditty Making Your Mind Up and had Leeds made their minds up to continue attacking the Premiership champions then maybe they would have won the day.

Unfortunately they decided upon the other course of action, sitting back and allowing one of Europe's most dangerous attacking machines to pound them with strike after strike.

It was enough to make any manager start pulling his hair out - especially when you are David O'Leary and you have seen your side totally outplay the Premiership champions for the majority of the second half. If you believe the rumours, O'Leary is being lined up as the natural replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson's Old Trafford throne. Those Manchester United directors watching from the stands as O'Leary's young side tore their all-stars to pieces could not fail to be impressed.

Even as the Reds pushed forward in search of an equaliser they were met by the resolute defence of Messrs Ferdinand, Matteo and Martyn who gave everything to prevent the hosts from levelling matters.

However, not even they could prevent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The baby-faced assassin applied the finishing touch with a super header - in the right place at the right time as he so often is.

From seemingly being so comfortable at one stage and certainly looking suitably on top, United almost went and threw it all away as the Red Devils piled forward for a late, late winner.

That would have been oh so cruel on United who had performed so brilliantly and showed they truly deserved the tag of Premiership title contenders.

O'Leary, while disappointed at not winning, was delighted with the performance from his side.

"We definitely should have won the game," he said. "If I've got to be super critical of my players, they have got to learn because when we got the goal we sat back and invited trouble.

"This is what we have to learn. We scored at the right time and should have kept playing, but we kind of got deeper in the box, seemed to settle for the goal and tried to hold on.

"When you do that with players of their quality then you are in danger of losing the game. It would have been very, very cruel had we lost. I am disappointed that we have not won it because I thought Manchester were there for the taking.

"But it's not a bad thing to come away from Man United - and everyone knows what I think of this club - and be disappointed with a draw."

United have now been to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United while they have faced Chelsea at home. Many would expect those sides to be up there challenging for the title come May and Leeds can still boast an unbeaten record.

But O'Leary knows that the reds of Manchester are the toughest prospect of all.

"Make no mistake these are the biggest of our rivals," he said. "With the players they have and the quality of their squad, I do know and I feel that you have got to get at them, you do not sit back and let them attack you.

"I thought we started of in a very nervous manner, we gave them too much respect and we didn't have enough believe. We were a much better side after the break. It was a good contest between two very good sides."

"I like to get at teams and I like to get at Manchester United. But after we scored we kept sitting back and sitting back and I thought we were poor for the goal. We were so deep that we were inviting trouble. The fellow got a header in there and Solskjaer, how many times has he done that? What a diamond he is for this club.

"We were pushing our luck. We got the goal which I thought was coming and then I wanted them to go on and push for another one."

United had been hit by an early barrage of pressure from the impressive home side as David Beckham curled a free-kick goalward that Martyn saved and then saw a low strike come back off the post.

Giggs was also denied by Martyn and Nicky Butt fired way over when he should have done better. In truth it could have been 3-0 before Leeds had woken up. But when they did rise from their slumber they looked a class act. Suddenly the respect for the illustrious hosts was gone and United took the game to them in style.

Viduka shot into the side netting while Harry Kewell and Robbie Keane fired over the bar before a second half that saw Leeds gain the upper hand.

Admittedly they should have been down to 10 men as Keane reacted poorly to a Beckham foul - shoving the England skipper to the ground with a two-armed push that was only punished with a yellow from the extremely lenient Dermot Gallagher.

It infuriated the Old Trafford crowd and as a cauldron of hate reverberated around the stadium the action on the field really started to hot up.

Viduka's goal was no surprise when it finally arrived in the 77th minute, Harte's low, bouncing bomb of a cross seemed innocuous, so much so that Mikael Silvestre left it to run out, but Viduka had other ideas as he stole in to fire through Fabien Barthez's legs.

The noisy Yorkshire following were in a dream world as the moment they never dared believe would happen was finally being realised before their very eyes. Were Leeds really going to win?

Unfortunately they were not.

Solskjaer jumped off the bench to apply his expert finish and those fans from the white rose county were sat on the edge of their seats with hearts in mouths as Ruud Van Nistelrooy was denied by a simply outstanding one-handed save from Martyn.

It was a quite brilliant football match, but the thoughts of 'if only' were etched across the foreheads of those Leeds fans for another season.

The report used to be available online here.

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