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Leeds United

Premier League
Game 32: Saturday 30 March 2002

Leeds United 3 - 4 Manchester United
(Half-time: 1 - 3)
Crowd: 40058
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow)
Manchester United
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Match Facts
Leeds United Team Manchester United
Nigel Martyn   Fabien Barthez
Booked - 67 minutes Danny Mills   Mikaël Silvestre
Goal - 62 minutes Ian Harte   Gary Neville
Jonathan Woodgate   Ronnie Johnsen
Dominic Matteo   Laurent Blanc
Subbed - 65 minutes Seth Johnson   David Beckham Booked - 90 minutes
Subbed - 60 minutes David Batty   Nicky Butt
Subbed - 12 minutes Harry Kewell   Roy Keane
Alan Smith   Ryan Giggs Goal - 55 minutes Subbed - 75 minutes
Robbie Fowler   Paul Scholes Goal - 8 minutes Booked - 72 minutes
Goal - 19 minutes Mark Viduka   Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Goal - 37 minutes Goal - 39 minutes Subbed - 86 minutes
Paul Robinson   Roy Carroll
Gary Kelly   Dennis Irwin
Sub - 60 minutes Eirik Bakke   Phil Neville Sub - 86 minutes
Sub - 12 minutes Goal - 80 minutes Lee Bowyer   Ruud van Nistelrooy
Sub - 65 minutes Robbie Keane   Diego Forlán Sub - 75 minutes
Match Reports
AndyC View from my American armchair.......
Betty Black Saturday - I think not
Jabba Blown it again
BBC Man United win thriller at Leeds
The Guardian Narrow escape gives Ferguson a wake-up call
The Independent United take Fergie's breath away
The Observer Scholes holds the key Solskjaer double keeps United in hunt
Soccernet Red relief
The Sporting Life Leeds United 3 - 4 Manchester United
The Sunday Times
(moved to pay-archive)
Scholes fires up champions
The Electronic Telegraph United hang on to clinch thriller
The Times Victory gives United false sense of security
Yorkshire Evening Post Champions pop United's bubble

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.

View from my American armchair....... - AndyC

You know, recliner, built in massage and drinks holder....

Anyway...various ramblings which left me more frustrated rather than the result itself.

Firstly, the manner of the defeat - JFC - if we sit back and go to sleep on a team like them, then we deserve what we got.

My congratulations to Mr Elleray - I thought he had a very good game - some nice common sense touches and good use of the advantage rule.

Couldn't understand why we started Seth instead of LeeBowya - especially when we brought Lee on for H. Surely when both are fit, Lee is ahead of Seth????

Dom seemed to be weighed down by both the armband and the responsibilty. The camera caught him fiddling with it a couple of times - couldn't have helped his concentration.

Harte spent too much time AWOL - nice goal, and very unlucky with the last attempt. The way he sauntered back and allowed Beckham all the space in the world.

Mills made a couple of good forrages forward, but was left pushing too far up into the spaces that Smiffy had created.

Which leads us to the one defender we had on the pitch. Woody was left wanting a few times, but you can't blame the lad - he was being pulled all over to cover for his colleagues failings. Nice control in the air - I don't think they won one aerial ball?

Was also perplexed by Batts coming off, by the fact that he went straight down the tunnel, I would assume he was injured??? or did he need a crap again??

I've been hot and cold with Dooks, but thought he had another good game, but would still take 30M thank you very much.

Last point, and the one that frustrated me more than anything - why, oh why, oh why (oh why, oh why, oh why..etc) could I hear their fans above ours for 85% of the game???????? Apart from the odd Marching on together after our goals, and a quick burst of SooperLeeds - I thought the singing by the home fans was pathetic. Got to be worth a man advantage to the visitors that they can out sing us so frequently. And before you all knowing regulars berate me as an armchair fan, I witnessed this first hand a couple of times at xmas, and was appaled. Anyone heard of positive encouragement in Yorkshire?? There were the obvious exceptions (Steve ;-)), but generally, very disappointing.

Enough crap from me, surprised you read this far.

Black Saturday - I think not - Betty

A twelve o'clock start has all sorts of in built hassle - no pre-match pub meet, bizarre dietary requirements and for today the spectacle of 15 year old wannabe yoof getting lifted outside the station by the police when they wouldn't move on "I'm waiting for the scum" as Lou reed might never have said.

Trying to get a pint in the Dragon was a joke. And the chance of getting served in the Revie Bar none existent.

Kick off came along with Leeds winning the toss and no one being bright enough to realise that there was advantage in taking note of the position of the sun, the start time and which way you played first. Instead the lumpen proles decided to play towards the South stand for the first half. I take it that they all have polarising contact lenses in.

The first goal from Man Utd came and went followed by a sharp run from Lee Bowyer and a perfect placement by Mark Viduka. One all and it looked like game on. Our shortcomings then were laid bare for all to see as Mills played some other game and Woodgate constantly dug us out of the mire. We were missing Mssrs Ferdinand and Dacourt.

Two messy stabs by man Utd and they were three one up and it was half time. The grinning idiot Barthez shuffled on stage for the restart and we were treated to some more messing about by our friends from Manchester 1-4. Then a free kick offered to Ian Harte went sweetly into the corner of the net leaving Roy Keane fulminating against Barthez. We had them rattled. Something Bowyer capitalized on to see us at 3-4. Smith had now taken on a pseudo Batty role and Robbie Keane was having a great time running all over the shop sadly missing with his swede from a superb cross from whom?

The last ten minutes were frenetic and we should have shaved it for the draw. It was a great match, we did make mistakes in the first thirty minutes but there was no doubting that the majority of the team were up for it even at 1-4 down.

Elleray seemed to keep everything in balance, there wasn't much cynicism in evidence from Spits men and the team got a fabulous response from the crowd at the end. I'm glad I went, I wanted a win but I can live with this particular game.

Blown it again - Jabba

We keep on doing it. We get a bit of a run together, convince ourselves that the great players we've got that everyone wants to buy are a good team, and then we go and shoot ourselves in the foot when it matters.

Midday kick-offs never seem right - too long after breakfast but no time to grab lunch beforehand (liquid or otherwise) and then they finish a bit too early to start celebrating/drown your sorrows for the rest of the day. Still, for professional footy players it shouldn't make any difference, and Leeds started off brightly enough despite the continued absence of Olivier Dacourt and Rio Ferdinand. The ref was David Elleray, and although he's never going to be the top of any fan's Christmas list you can usually expect him to be consistent if a little harsh. As it was, ManU got a very early Easter present from him when he declined to punish Nicky Butt for a challenge that was more of a two-footed jump on Harry Kewell's leg early in the game. Kewell tried to continue but failed (he needed stitches later) and Leeds had lost yet another significant player - although the return of Lee Bowyer as Kewell's replacement was most welcome.

Without Rio, the defence always looks a little less confident - less aware of who should be where doing what. And after 9 minutes it showed - Danny Mills doing his England chances no good at all by allowing Silvestre to check inside and get the ball over to Paul Scholes to finish it off. Leeds were level inside 10 minutes though, and although Lee Bowyer's run took a large share of the credit for the goal, David Elleray's decision to allow play to continue after Alan Smith appeared to be fouled as he won the ball was equally significant. Bowyer played the ball in for Mark Viduka, Viduka shrugged Neville aside and slotted the ball home: 1-1 and Elland Road erupted.

Then we just went to pieces again. Mills and Woodgate collided as they went for the ball together, Scholes shot was spilled by Nigel Martyn and Solskjaer snapped up the rebound. 2 minutes later the first of the Elland Road faithless headed for the exits after Solskjaer again benefited from Silvestre's tormenting of Mills. Half time and two goals down - if we were to stand a chance we had to hold them off into the second half and score first. No such luck: Ian Harte ventured upfield, the ball was lost and Beckham made his first significant contribution to the game as he hared away down the right. Harte chased back but most of the midfield couldn't make it/didn't bother. With both centrebacks in the middle, the goal was still looking pretty safe, but Harte gave up the chase just in time to allow Beckham the space to pull the ball back to the penalty spot, Matteo couldn't intercept it and Giggs made no mistake with the finish. Now the hordes started leaving.

That was when we started pulling it back together. David Batty had a pretty good game, but was replaced by the fit-again Eirik Bakke on the hour, and Leeds pressed forward looking for some consolation. It might have been desperation first though - a more or less free header hit the bar with Martyn beaten in the Leeds goal, and 1-5 would really have killed the game. Leeds won a free kick just outside the Man U box - Ian Harte took it and produced a superbly-flighted ball that beat Barthez and crept inside the post.

Keane came on for Seth Johnson and wasted one of the best chances of the game, with a header from in front of goal and almost unchallenged went wide. Still Leeds pressed - and the crowd took a break from singing anti-ManU songs to get behind the team for a change. A great run down the wing by Robbie Keane was followed by a good layoff to Robbie Fowler in the area - Fowler shot hopelessly wide, but found the head of Lee Bowyer to redirect the slice into the net: 4-3 and everything to play for.

Sadly the final goal never came: Smithy won a free kick that Ian Harte put inches wide with Barthez rooted to the spot, and Smithy himself volleyed just wide, making a great turn. Injury time approached, and with the team just a goal down against the arch-rivals, another exodus from the stands left those of us remaining gobsmacked: it's one thing to leave to beat the rush if you're 3 goals down or up - but to leave when just one goal could make the difference in such a big game is hard to understand.

Once again we've made too many silly mistakes and gifted a big game to the opposition, but there's a lot to be happy with in the performance today. The team came back well and didn't let their heads go down, we scored some very good goals and were unlucky not to have more, and it looks like DOL has finally overcome his prejudices and decided that Robbie Keane should be given a chance for Leeds. But without Dacourt and Ferdinand we still look far too shaky at the back and don't show quite the same composure in midfield - we need to get away from relying on just one or two players to maintain the levels of concentration for 90 minutes and once again play together as a great team rather than merely as 11 good players.

Narrow escape gives Ferguson a wake-up call - David Lacey

Copy from Football Unlimited of 01/04/2002.

Manchester United were allowed back to the top of the Premiership for three hours on Saturday, maybe for one last look around. By this evening they will be two points off the lead if Arsenal win at Charlton and will still have played a game more.

In the short term, then, the victory over Leeds United was less important for the tantalising glimpse it gave the champions of a fourth successive title, now a receding prospect, than the boost it will have given Sir Alex Ferguson's team for tomorrow's opening leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Deportivo La Coruna.

Not that Deportivo, having already beaten Manchester United twice in this season's tournament, could have seen much at Elland Road on Saturday to harbour doubts about their ability to do so again. While they might have been impressed at seeing United establish a 4-1 lead after leaving Ruud van Nistelrooy on the bench the ultimate narrowness of the victory must have been more comforting.

Read the rest...

Scholes holds the key - Paul Wilson

Copy from Football Unlimited of 31/03/2002.

Sir Alex Ferguson accepted that winning the title was out of Manchester United's hands after last week's defeat by Middlesbrough, but he has not given it up and he sounded more bullish when sending his players into one of their season's most keenly anticipated fixtures.

'We still have a chance, but we need to win all our games,' Ferguson said. 'I believe Arsenal and Liverpool will drop points before the end of the season, whereas we know we cannot afford to.'

Even with Ruud van Nistelrooy on the bench, the champions were never in danger of losing points here, although they did make Ferguson sweat a little by carelessly letting Leeds United come back from 4-1 down. Ferguson's side have consistently looked better this season with Paul Scholes in midfield, and by half-time the England man had engineered a three-goal platform for victory.

Read the rest...

Champions pop United's bubble - Matt Reeder

Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 01/04/2002.

POP Idol runner-up Gareth Gates knows a thing or two about defeat.

A loser in the hit TV show, millions of viewers saw him edged out in what was a thrilling battle for supremacy with eventual winner Will Young.

A month or two later, of course, the Bradford lad has turned his disappointment into ecstasy by securing his very first hit number one and toppling his victor off the top perch.

Maybe his appearance in the West Stand at Elland Road on Saturday can inspire David O'Leary's very own Prem idols to embark on a similar rise from the ashes of despondency.

Much like the new teen pin-up of the pop world, Leeds United have endured their fair share of pain and loss this season. Whether they can now pick themselves up and finish on a high note like young Gareth remains to be seen.

It would, of course, help if all the players were singing off the same song-sheet.

Playing against the champions and one of the most attack-minded sides in Europe was never going to be an easy task - especially when they needed to win to keep alive their title hopes.

But it was a quest made all the more difficult by some quite shocking defending which gifted Sir Alex Ferguson's side a 4-1 lead with 30 minutes of the second half still remaining.

The back four - missing the controlling influence of injured skipper Rio Ferdinand - was sloppy beyond belief, especially the two full-backs who struggled to cope with the dynamic running of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.

With Roy Keane and Nicky Butt powering through from the midfield, there were times when you felt Manchester United could quite easily go on to fire six or seven past the exposed Nigel Martyn.

It is four-and-a-half years since Leeds fans have seen a win against Manchester United at Elland Road. A statistic which is hanging heavily around the necks of everyone connected with the club

People will rave about the wonderful comeback and the brilliant spirit among the team, but the truth is they let a golden chance to beat the champions slip through their fingers for a second time this season.

Back in October, Leeds were less than a minute away from taking home all three points when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer popped up to head in a dramatic equaliser. Saturday's defeat will have hurt just as much.

Any team scoring three goals at home would be disappointed not to win, no matter the opposition, and once again manager O'Leary will have left a contest against his old foe Sir Alex Ferguson wondering just what might have been.

Solskjaer was again the chief tormentor.

His ability to poach and snaffle up every opportunity must make him one of the most valuable strikers in the Premiership. Indeed, the visitors did not even miss top scorer Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who spent the entire 90 minutes on the bench.

Their little Norwegian was enough of a handful and it was his double strike within the space of two minutes late in the first half which virtually killed the game off.

Scholes had already seen his ninth minute goal cancelled out by Mark Viduka's clinical finish when Solskjaer first fired in a Martyn fumble and then forced in a loose ball after Dominic Matteo had blocked Giggs.

All three of the visitors' goals had come from the left flank as Danny Mills endured a torrid afternoon.

It was slightly cruel on Leeds who had started brightly and, after Viduka's strike, called Fabien Barthez into action with a series of good efforts on goal.

Even the departure of Harry Kewell did not halt their progress as Lee Bowyer came back after suspension to show he had lost none of the sparkle which made him such a key player last season.

They must have felt they were still in with a shout as the second half re-started, but a fourth was not long in coming as the champions simply tore through the flimsy Leeds defence.

Laurent Blanc fed Beckham deep in his own half and the England skipper raced the length of the right flank un-touched before cutting the ball back from the by-line for Giggs to neatly tuck away.

That could have been game, set and match - and had Ronnie Johnsen's header not hit the bar, maybe it would have been.

But there is still a spirit within the Leeds camp which gives them an extra edge and as O'Leary introduced Robbie Keane and Eirik Bakke it gave the home side a fresh, if belated, spring in their step.

Ian Harte's thumping free-kick set the stage for an encore and when Robbie Fowler's sliced shot teed up Bowyer for a diving header to make it 4-3, there was suddenly real hope that Leeds could produce the ultimate comeback.

The miracle did not appear, however, and Leeds are now left hoping that they can still earn the chance to prove their one season in the Champions League last year was not a one hit wonder.

Such a big defeat is hard to stomach, just ask Gareth, but it is May 11 which counts and Leeds will hope they too have what it takes to be top of the Euro pops.

The report used to be available online here.

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