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Copy from Football Unlimited of 29/11/2001.
It should have been all about Robbie Fowler last night, a celebration of a startling signing which should be completed today, but Alan Smith stole his thunder.
Smith's unpunished forearm smash on Graeme Le Saux with five minutes of Chelsea's stroll here to go left the England full-back concussed and carried off. Video replays could yet see the 21-year-old hauled before the Football Association.
It was hardly the wisest reaction after Sunday's red card - for an elbow on Aston Villa's Alpay Ozalan - and his manager's subsequent criticism of his "disgraceful" disciplinary record. The late fracas tended to overshadow the visitors' display, capped with two cooly taken Eidur Gudjohnsen goals which secured a quarter-final berth.
Copy from The Independent of 29/11/2001.
The capture of Robbie Fowler was to be the only triumph Leeds enjoyed last night, and their departure from the Worthington Cup exposed a lack of imagination in attack that the boy from Toxteth might fill. Instead, it fell to Eidur Gudjohnsen to show Elland Road how a ball should be put into a net with an aplomb Fowler would have applauded had he not chosen to return to Merseyside rather than judge his new club from the stands.
The irony was not lost on David O'Leary; later today the Leeds manager expects to formally announce Fowler's signing, which will take his spending in the past year to some £50m. Yet, with Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka not recovered from Australia's trek to Uruguay and the Bowyer-Woodgate court case reaching its conclusion, he was unable to fill his bench.
By the end of a night in which Leeds' limitations without the width of Kewell and Bowyer were fully exposed, he had lost Stephen McPhail, Dominic Matteo and Eirik Bakke to injuries and was employing Michael Duberry as a very makeshift centre-forward against his former club.
As O'Leary had already used his substitutes when McPhail was carried off, Leeds finished a miserable evening a man short. Chelsea, who badly needed this victory to keep open one route to Europe, nevertheless lost their captain, Graeme Le Saux, to concussion after a clash with Alan Smith. The first meeting of these sides in a domestic cup competition since the notoriously vicious 1970 FA final thus lived up to its billing, although much of the game was full of the weary tetchiness of an old married couple rather than outright venom.
Until Gudjohnsen intervened for the first of his two goals in the 59th minute, there was precious little venom in front of goal from either side. A first half which in terms of creative football was a wasteland seemed to be designed to show Elland Road how badly Fowler was needed.
Leeds' greatest threat stemmed from Ian Harte's free-kicks, although Carlo Cudicini needed to save only one; turning a curling shot past the post four minutes after the interval. Had Jeff Winter awarded a penalty for William Gallas's trip on Robbie Keane, Leeds might have secured an advantage their play scarcely deserved.
Le Saux, whose ugly two-footed challenge on Danny Mills here last month was still fresh in Yorkshire minds, was at the centre of most of Chelsea's forward play, spinning past Bakke and David Batty, finding Gudjohnsen on the right and then scooping the return ball high into the stands. This seemed to sum up the opening 45 minutes.
Fittingly, it was Le Saux who provided the vital cross which Frank Lampard nodded down. Gudjohnsen reacted fractionally more quickly than Rio Ferdinand, striking it on the half-volley past Nigel Martyn. Since, moments earlier, the Icelander had struck the outside of the post, Leeds had been warned.
With the home side running out of time and players, Chelsea secured their passage into the quarter-finals as, after Ferdinand slipped painfully on the edge of their own area, Lampard broke away, feeding Mario Melchiot, whose pass was driven home by Gudjohnsen.
In the context of the season, O'Leary admitted that an early exit from the Worthington Cup may be no bad thing. The priority is a return to the Champions' League which last season generated £25m to help fund the Fowler transfer, but the 1968 League Cup was the first trophy Don Revie's great team lifted and it is time some kind of silverware was brought back to the Broad Acres.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 29/11/2001.
A BLESSING in disguise or a missed opportunity to finally pick up some elusive silverware?
Whichever side of the line it is viewed from, the true impact of last night's Worthington Cup defeat will not be fully felt until the end of the season.
Victory would have put United into the quarter-finals of a competition that they would no doubt have been fancied to win.
Defeat, however, will now ease up the fixture congestion and - excuse the cliche - allow the team to concentrate on the all-important league campaign.
A Champions League berth, the UEFA Cup and of course the FA Cup all rank higher than taking home the League Cup trophy to David O'Leary.
The mud of Grasshoppers and the fact that they were forced to play with only 10 men for the majority of Sunday's draw with Aston Villa finally told as Leeds looked jaded and completely out of sorts against an underfire Chelsea side looking to prove a few points after a stuttering league campaign.
The match was United's fourth in 10 days and the only changes O'Leary has been able to make have been to switch Olivier Dacourt and Seth Johnson about.
Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell are back in the country but still recovering from the effects of their globetrotting with the Socceroos and with Johnson ineligible for the tie after playing in an earlier round for Derby there were few options open to the Leeds boss.
So much so that he was only able to field three outfield substitutes last night and when injuries robbed him of three players during the 90 minutes he was forced to shove defender Michael Duberry up front.
Of course the impending arrival of Robbie Fowler will help to boost the squad numbers and he will also, no doubt, inject a bit of extra vim into a side which has faltered slightly in recent weeks.
It would be extremely harsh to criticise United for their efforts so far. But O'Leary's warning that November would prove to be the testing month has been totally vindicated. Two wins, two draws and two defeats in six games crossing three competitions proves just how much of a test. I doubt O'Leary will have lost too much sleep over Eidur Gudjohnsen's double strike, but what will worry him is that United had two players hobble off and one stretchered off with potentially serious injuries.
Dominic Matteo, Eirik Bakke and Stephen McPhail were all forced out of the action. McPhail, just back after Achilles problems, was down for several minutes and had ankles strapped together before being carried off.
The injuries capped a thoroughly miserable night on the field for United who never really got into their stride.
A tenth minute Ian Harte strike was really all they had to show for the opening 25 minutes when the Irishman curled a trademark free-kick just past the post.
The visitors, however saw a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink free-kick well saved by Nigel Martyn and then missed a couple of glorious chances as Graeme Le Saux hooked high over the bar and Mario Melchiot shot tamely.
United broke the Chelsea domination when a Robbie Keane effort deflected up kindly for Wilcox to strike on the volley from the left edge of the penalty area but his fine strike was pushed around the post by Carlo Cudicini.
Frustration and controversy seems to have followed Keane around in equal measure this season after being booked twice for supposedly diving in the penalty box.
His jinx struck again just before the break as he went over a trailing leg from William Gallas only for referee Jeff Winter not to give the obvious penalty kick - at least this time there was no card shown for Keane.
United started the second half as they had the first - with a free-kick from defender Harte. This time his curler was on target and heading for the bottom corner but Cudicini pulled off a decent save. It was to be their only real chance of the half. Icelandic international striker Eidur Gudjohnsen was the thorn in their side as he first struck a post in the 52nd minute before firing the first of his double seven minutes later.
He scored it, however, as Leeds struggled with two players out of the action with injuries. Matteo, who had looked in brilliant form, was on the sidelines with an ankle problem and Bakke was rolling around in agony with a knock on the knee.
It left gaps at the back and as Le Saux's cross was headed back across goal by Frank Lampard there was enough space for Gudjohnsen to sweep a low strike past Martyn via a post.
Matteo was replaced by Michael Duberry and Bakke's place was taken by Stephen McPhail. Sadlly for United that was not the end of the injury crisis.
With time running out Leeds tried with all their might to push forward and find an equaliser but as they did so Chelsea caught them on the break.
Once again, however, there was a Leeds man writhing in pain on the pitch as Gudjohnsen picked up the ball - this time from former Leeds man Hasselbaink - and smashed it past Martyn.
McPhail had challenged for a high ball with Slavisa Jokanovic and come out far the worst as the Yugoslavian's studs left a trail from groin to ankle all the way down his right leg. It was an horrific challenge and the unlucky Irishman had to be stretchered off.
Chelsea's Le Saux soon followed him as he clashed, accidentally I might add, with Alan Smith and was temporarily knocked unconscious.
All of the injuries did result in five minutes of over-time being played, but United could not muster any serious threat and their interest in the Worthington Cup was over for another year.
Maybe, just maybe however, that is for the best!