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I have to admit with being impressed by the attitude, if not the skill last night. It all seemed to be going against them. A goal behind, a pitch that made passing football difficult (although Hoppers seemed to manage it for much of the game), and a referee that penalised countless fair tackles.
As often happens, the game hinged on 2 incidents around the 70th minute. Namely Nigel's penalty save and Dacourt's driving run when he was fouled, followed by Harte's excellent free-kick.
We had 2 decent spells in the game. A period just before half time, and one in the 2nd half, but were 2nd best for much of the match. The only tactical variation I saw was that as the game went on Bakke moved inside into a freer role leaving Mills pushing forward on the right in what almost became 3-4-1-2.
As Damian said, for much of the game both forwards were only looking for the ball over the top, or to flick it on, rather than ever coming short. Bakke seemed to find space in the 'hole' in front of their defence and reduce the chasm between Leeds midfield and forwards.
Scores from he Sofa (Got rid of the armchair)
Johnson will come into the frame for the Villa game, so at least we'll have a full bench.
Kewell and Viduka will make a difference for the return.
Another new country for me in following Leeds, but not the best of starts as the tube ground to a halt around Acton Wednesday lunchtime and it was a mad dash to Heathrow to meet the rest of the East Anglian whites and make the flight. On arrival another problem, I took my brand new mobile with me to Zurich but forgot to read the user manual first, and so was unable to turn the predictive text function off, which kept changing all the street names as I tried to let Wiggy and Betty know where I was.
The hotel turned out to be quite close to the ground and after having a quick look we found a bar to our liking, beer, friendly locals, loads of food, jukebox and more beer and settled in for the night. Can only assume that it was a dodgy pint or eight that caused the queasy looks at breakfast the next morning, although maybe the referees erratic performance later could be explained by the lack of sleep he got as we rolled in to our rooms on the same floor of the hotel at various ungodly hours.
It was about 11 the next morning before the majority of us had dragged ourselves out of bed to face the world on a cold but clear winters day. We got the tram into the city and headed for the lake for a recommended trip around the Zurichsee. The total lack of boats but paid to this plan, so we started to wander around the city as I failed dismally to work out how to answer Wiggy's phonecalls. Zurich turned out to be a gorgeous place with a definite air of tranquility surrounding it, despite the million of pounds doubtless changing hands in the UBS and Jabba inc buildings all around us. Loads of very Swiss looking churches to look at and peaceful squares to watch the world go by from and a nice trip in the little train upto the University for good views of the City.
After some Wurst we headed back to the shopping area, where the items are so expensive they have no price tags and the assistants just shake their heads at us as we look to enter. A brief stop off at the well attended list meet at the Lion pub, to see Thirkell and Stotty doubtless providing Betty with the raw material for Alice's first novel ! We then tried to head back to the hotel to meet up with the rest of the Tractor Boys branch, but were hit by my second public transport disaster of the trip. Our tram shuddered to a halt outside the Hautbahnhof and following an announcement in German everyone else jumped off. We followed looking a bit confused to find an ambulance wedged into the front of a tram, which brought the city to a halt for a while - bit difficult for a tram to go around an obstacle.
When we eventually got back to the hotel it was straight off to our new local for a couple of hours pre-match drinking, though it was an infinitely more sober experience than the previous night. A short hop on the tram upto the ground and I got in reasonably easily for once, though it's always a nervous moment when you put your tickets into one of the automated turnstiles and wait for the green light to go on. However, it seems like later on a relatively small amount of people led to a slight crush outside due to the lack of turnstiles and amount of searching going on. By this time I was safely ensconced in my correct seat (a first in 20 odd European trips) with a slice of very palatable pizza to eat.
Just as we'd got to the ground the heavens had opened and it then continued to chuck it down for the whole game, to the extent that after we'd stopped laughing at the 'hoppers fans getting wet below us we began to wonder if we'd be able to finish the game. We started with the same team as at Sunderland, save for Wilcox for Seth in midfield, not that there were many other options. For the first 20 odd minutes we looked more than comfortable, bossing the game in midfield and Smithy blazed one chance over the bar. Then from nowhere another shot from outside the area nestled in Martyn's bottom corner and for a while it looked like a different game. Initially we totally failed to adapt to the conditions and several underhit passes stuck in the puddles to cost us possession. Only Batts seemed to relish the rain as he could now intimidate the Swiss players by sliding in from fully 10 yards away at times. Although the Hoppers didn't create many chances in the 1st half neither did we.
The half-time was cheered up by one of the better WATC-COE of recent times and some female participation from behind me, led to more photo opportunities for some. Start of second half we were worse if anything, obviously the tide had turned, and the big black guy playing in central midfield for them was dominating the game. Nigel had a few shots skidding through the puddles to deal with and another couple blazed high and wide. As with last Sunday we had no width - even though we had a winger in the team this time - and our passes through the puddles to the strikers rarely reached their destinations.
Then the obvious turning point, A Rio mistake sent one of their players scampering free through the middle until he went tumbling down in the penalty area, or deep end as it was now known, maybe he'd caught a crab. We weren't sure what had really happened and could see Nige making dive gestures but when the ref pointed to the penalty spot, we feared the red card would follow. Surprisingly it was just a yellow for Rio and our joy increased as Martyn guessed right and saved the penalty and it's follow up. From then on the mood changed and Dacourt and Batty got to grips with the game.
Soon after Ollie was fouled on the edge of the box. Harte wandered up like he couldn't care a less and curled it into the corner, our celebrations interrupted by the sight of Smith trying to have a fight with about 6 Grasshoppers players, a couple of punches were thrown. The Leeds crowd who'd been noisy throughout in our covered end, banged the barriers and cranked up the volume some more. It didn't take long for the next goal, after Matteo had bounced one past the post, a Harte cross wasn't cleared properly and Smith spun in the mud and bobbled it into the corner and to our surprise wasn't flagged offside.
This knocked the stuffing out of the Swiss and the game became bogged down in the puddles and splashed to an end as the Hoppers fans disappeared home. A good win and ultimately a brave performance in the rain, we didn't play well for large chunks of the game but kept going when it mattered and just about deserved it in the end.
Out of the ground to the strange sight of the Police lined up with an odd combination of machine-gun and lid from wicker basket you put your washing in. About 10,000 people in front of us in the queue for the tram and so we wandered back to the bar - where the landlady was beginning to look pleased to see us or our money. Bizarrely it had virtually stopped raining by this point. A couple of pints later and we dragged our soggy bodies back to the hotel. Next morning we woke up to a different city - covered in snow. This meant we had to scamper back round the city before our flight retaking the previous days pictures in a different setting.
A slight delay at the airport as they closed the runway for a bit to clear the snow, meant I only just made it back to work by 2, to save the half days leave I'll need for the home leg and distribute the chocolate around the office. One more public transport disaster as someone decided to kill themselves on the train line at Hitchin and caused a 4 hour delay on the train home, when all I wanted was to get home and sleep. Still couldn't take the shine off what was another good trip, Zurich nice place, average team, good combination.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 29/11/2001.
So much for David O'Leary's dream of emulating his beloved Arsenal. After five successive defeats on their European travels, Leeds's bright young things experienced a long overdue victory here in Zurich last night.
The losing streak had stretched back to the Bernabeu last season, but was washed away in less auspicious surroundings and perilously late into this third round first leg. Just 17 minutes remained when Ian Harte's free-kick cancelled out Stéphane Chapuisat's opening goal; Alan Smith's smart second just six sodden minutes later virtually guaranteed the Yorkshiremen safe passage into the fourth round.
The Leeds manager could only fill four of the seven places on his bench, but even so his selection hardly suggested he had scraped the barrel and should have claimed early reward. Eirik Bakke charged down Boris Smiljanic's clearance but, after the ball had squirted into the area, Smith skied his shot high and wide.
Copy from The Independent of 23/11/2001.
Alan Smith's first goal since the opening day of the season left Leeds United in a strong position to reach the fourth round of the Uefa Cup after the first leg against Grasshopper in a Zurich deluge last night, although they had to come from behind and survived a penalty scare against Switzerland's fifth-placed side.
Leeds were on course to emulate Arsenal's sorry record of six consecutive away defeats in Europe when a 67th-minute penalty award against Rio Ferdinand gave Richard Nuñez the chance to add to Stéphane Chapuisat's early goal. But Nigel Martyn made a fine save, and within 12 minutes a trademark Ian Harte free-kick and Smith's opportunism set David O'Leary's side up nicely for the return leg on 6 December.
O'Leary's team selection, particularly his naming of four substitutes as opposed to the seven permitted, seemed designed to make a point about the depth of his squad to those who hold the purse strings. Yet even without Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Lee Bowyer and Seth Johnson, he fielded 11 internationals and Leeds dominated the early exchanges.
However, on a pitch heavy with surface water, they fell behind to the first Grasshopper shot in earnest after 18 minutes. Chapuisat, whose best days appeared to be behind him when he returned from the Bundesliga, turned Dominic Matteo and skipped over Harte's challenge before spearing a left-footed drive beyond Martyn.
Leeds became petulant where they had looked poised, disputing decisions by a referee who showed a low tolerance for challenges that are routine in England. Jason Wilcox was booked for a sliding tackle on Nuñez, the Uruguayan picking himself up to whip in a free-kick which Martyn tipped over.
Driven forward by Papa Bouba, a midfield powerhouse who will be part of Senegal's World Cup quest next summer, Grasshopper exploited Leeds' unease much as Troyes and Maritimo had in their previous away fixtures. Under the scrutiny of Sven Goran Eriksson, Smith was fortunate to escape a caution more than once.
Danny Mills, another player of interest to the England manager, was also cautioned for dissent but was impressive ploughing forward. In the first minute of the second half, Mills' driven cross took a wicked deflection off a defender, but Peter Jehle, the 19-year-old Liechtenstein national goalkeeper, brilliantly clawed the ball away.
A lapse in concentration by Ferdinand gave Grasshopper the chance to double their advantage. The £18m centre-back let Nuñez steal ahead of him and, in trying to put the striker off his shot, succeeded only in bundling him over. After a rare yellow card for the Leeds captain - and it could have been red - the South American's spot-kick was parried by Martyn, who blocked two follow-up efforts for good measure.
It proved a turning point. Within five minutes, Olivier Dacourt was fouled, enabling Harte to collect his third goal of the season from 22 yards, beating Jehle for movement in the air and placement by the upright. Grasshopper wilted and with 11 minutes left their failure to clear a cross allowed first Robbie Keane and then Smith to swing at the ball near the penalty spot. The latter's scuffed attempt, accompanied by a jet of spray off the turf, completed Leeds' recovery.