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Copy from Football Unlimited of 28/09/2001.
Leeds may have their hearts set on maintaining progress at the pinnacle of the Premiership and qualification for the Champions League, but they will have to put up with the distraction of the Uefa cup for a little longer.
Embarrassed by Maritimo last week, the Yorkshiremen romped to revenge in some style here last night. A pair of first half goals had the home crowd purring; a third after the interval reflected the very real gulf in class between the two sides.
So poor had Leeds been in the first leg in Madeira that improvement here was inevitable. Shot-shy and generally shoddy that night, the 1-0 defeat prompted their manager David O'Leary to admit: "I didn't know the lads could play that badly." That they did robbed him of any plans he may have had to rest personnel prior to Sunday's trip to Ipswich.
Copy from The Independent of 28/09/2001.
Leeds United went some way last night towards dispelling suggestions, one of which emanated from within Elland Road, that they found the Uefa Cup anti-climactic after their adventures in the Champions' League and would not have been unduly upset by a first-round exit against Maritimo.
The Premiership leaders, semi-finalists in the respective European tournaments in the previous two seasons, had overturned their first-leg deficit by the interval through a splendid goal by Robbie Keane, his first in Europe, and Harry Kewell's third in five days.
Eirik Bakke finished off the frankly limited Portuguese midway through the second half. Keane's individualism almost produced a fourth before a 38,125 crowd - some 5,000 more than Liverpool drew in the premier tournament 24 hours earlier - which proved that the Yorkshire public take the "lesser" competition seriously.
They must have left asking quite how Maritimo, who qualified by virtue of losing the Portuguese Cup final to Porto, had managed to beat Leeds in Madeira. A shadow of the well-drilled side who took Leeds to penalties three years ago, their main tactic in preventing David O'Leary's team from establishing a rhythm seemed to be writhe in apparent agony after challenges that would go unremarked upon in the British context.
Perhaps O'Leary's description of the tournament as "the Worthington Cup of European football" induced complacency in Leeds last Thursday. The Irishman later revised his statement, but one aspect of the first meeting did resurface.
Nigel Martyn, beaten by Bruno's freakish 45-yard free-kick on that occasion, could not hold Dinda's brutally struck set-piece from similar range after 13 uneventful minutes. The ball ran to Quim, but the angle was not conducive to the tap-in for which the lone striker must have hoped and Martyn scrambled his shot behind.
Dinda, a genuine casualty amid Maritimo's amateur dramatics, made an early departure after falling awkwardly in an aerial challenge with David Batty. No sooner had he gone than Leeds levelled the aggregate scores after 20 minutes from their first shot in anger.
Batty's long, lofted pass picked out a strong surge through the inside-right channel by Keane, whose first touch flicked the ball away from the three defenders who were converging on him. His second, a vicious cross-shot, ripped past Nelson into the far corner of the net.
The second goal, eight minutes before the break, had similar origins. Rio Ferdinand launched a towering pass from the back that found Mark Viduka breaking on the right. Viduka's cleverly flighted cross was met at the back post by Kewell, who converted a header for the second match running.
Shortly before half-time, the referee's decision to penalise Bakke for a clean tackle on Bruno so annoyed the seldom-booked Ferdinand that he ran over to say his piece as captain and received a yellow card for his trouble.
It proved a minor blip for the hosts, who were driven forward by the impressive Olivier Dacourt. Maritimo signalled their intention to press for a potentially decisive away goal by throwing on Andre moments before the hour. By the 63rd minute, however, Leeds had sealed their place in today's second-round draw.
The first-half scorers each contributed a significant "assist". Kewell, released by Keane, ran at the defence before unleashing a low shot from 15 yards which Nelson spilled. Bakke, who had also found the net in Sunday's defeat of Derby, followed up to sweep the ball home. "We can't win the Uefa Cup," said O'Leary afterwards, a little surprisingly, "but once we've got all our players back we'll give anyone a game."
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 28/09/2001.
ANY lingering doubts Leeds were not interested in the UEFA Cup were well and truly banished last night as David O'Leary's boys efficiently saw off Maritimo.
It had been suggested in some cynical quarters maybe United would gladly exit this 'second-rate' competition and focus solely on the domestic scene.
Last week's dismal 1-0 defeat on the holiday isle of Madeira had done little to suggest they had a hunger for the European battle which lay ahead. Last night, however, amid a carnival atmosphere at Elland Road it was quite a different story.
By the time West Yorkshire's very own version of the Mexican Wave was swinging its way around the famous old stadium, United had done the job and completed a relatively comfortable passage into round two.
First half goals from Robbie Keane and Harry Kewell had put O'Leary's boys at ease and when Eirik Bakke tapped in just after the break it allowed players and fans alike to relax and enjoy another Euro party.
Truth be told, despite the odd scare, this was a walk in the park for the home side and the magnificent 38,125 fans who turned up were dreaming of who they would draw in the next round well before the final whistle.
United must fancy their chances of glory too as they once again proved that, when fit, they have a first 11 brimming full of quality to rival any on the continent.
There were no frills last night, just a professional display from a team which had the look of a side determined to set the ball rolling on yet another glorious European run.
Manager David O'Leary said: "I don't think it was a straight forward victory but I do think that it was a good performance from the lads.
"They let themselves down last week in Madeira but they rectified it with this result. I thought it was a good, patient, solid performance. We could have scored more goals but I was delighted.
"I had plenty of harsh words to say to them privately after the result in Maritimo and I have had a few good words to say to them after this match."
O'Leary insists he is excited about what the UEFA challenge will bring next, but warns against talk of winning the trophy.
"I will not make any predictions, we will take every round as it comes because there are some great teams in this competition," he said. "AC Milan are a great team and they will do really well this season. I know that they fancy themselves for this competition. Inter Milan, too, have spent lots of money and they are a good, good side as well."
While United did eventually stroll to victory, O'Leary saw the third goal as the crucial strike as it gave his side a decent cushion to fall back on.
"I think our decision-making in the final third can be a lot better," he said. "There are times when we can lay the ball off and put others through, but we are trying to do it ourselves.
"The goals we got were good goals but the most important one was the third one really. I thought that was the vital one which gave us the little bit of breathing space."
The return of midfielder Olivier Dacourt was the key to United's victory as he teamed up in a midfield engine room that was already strengthened by the return of Eirik Bakke at the weekend.
Both had been injured for the first leg of the tie and this performance proved just how badly they were missed.
David Batty was once again strutting around the park with an air of superiority about him that can only spell danger for the opposition. And it was he who set up the opening goal after 20 minutes.
United had already lived dangerously when a 40 yard free-kick from Brazilian Dinda had almost caught out Nigel Martyn who then had to be alert to block the rebound from Ferraz Quim.
The nerves were put at ease through a mixture of tenacity, quality and a touch of brilliance.
Batty produced the tenacity as he chased back 40 yards to win a tackle just inside his half and then he provided the quality as he chipped the perfect delivery over the defence into Robbie Keane's path.
Keane, who has not had much luck in front of goal this season, then delivered the brilliance as he guided the ball down into his path with a nifty clip of the boot and chest control and fired a perfect strike across the keeper and into the far corner.
Keane then turned provider for Batty as the veteran midfielder fired a low drive from the edge of the box which Nelson Vasco saved at the second attempt and Dacourt turned on the edge of the box before firing a left foot effort just over the bar.
Leeds were, by now, in total control, their only danger coming from set-plays or breakaways.
The second goal, however, was not long in coming and it was defender Rio Ferdinand who provided the killer pass. Turning defence into attack with one swing of the boot, he found the end of Mark Viduka's inch-perfect run and the Aussie had time to look up and spot Harry Kewell at the far post and the winger made no mistake as he nodded the ball home.
Minutes before the break Ian Harte almost gave the home side some breathing space as his 45-yard free-kick deflected off a Maritimo defender and looked to be looping into the bottom corner but Vasco made a decent save, clawing the ball away down to his left.
At 2-1 the tie was never safe for United and they were warned of just how slender their lead was when Sergio burst through and shot straight at Martyn just after the break.
Keane almost gave them that extra cushion in the 62nd minute as he chased a neat ball from Batty, but as he chipped his effort over Vasco the ball dropped just wide.
However, a minute later, it was Keane's ball which found Kewell on the left hand edge of the box. The Aussie struck a low effort goalwards that Vasco spilled and Bakke was on hand to side-foot the rebound into the empty net.
That made it 3-0, cue the Mexican Wave.
Pack your bags and dust off those passports because Leeds United are back on the march through Europe.