Manchester United 0 - 1 Leeds United

Like any football fan will know, The FA Cup is a competition in which giants are killed and the underdog often runs top. Non-league teams can knock out professional teams [as Leeds know all too well from last year], and premiership sides fight against their lower ranked rivals.

There was no question as to which were the bookies favourites.

Leeds had struggled in the 2nd round of the FA Cup, when they scraped a draw at Kettering Town’s home ground, and didn’t manage to get a strong advantage till the added time, during the replay at Elland Road, when 4 extra goals finished the match on a 5-1 victory. Their league strength [top of League 1 by 8 points, with a game still in hand] could not push the odds in their favour, and truly the Yorkshire team took the underdog position.

In a contrast, Manchester are the Premiership’s second team [Chelsea take pride of place, 2 points clear]; their squad built of strong internationals, and promising youngsters; their position 42 above Leeds.

There is no point denying that the two teams have a strong history. Dubbed the ‘Roses Rivalry’, the Yorkshire and Lancaster teams often went head to head, with players and fans often in conflict. The football world knew this day could get rough when the two teams were drawn, limiting ticket numbers and increasing security.

But, regardless of the fighting off the pitch, the match was still set to be a fierce one.

It wasn’t long after kick off when it started to look like Manchester’s match; their possession was strong and their talent obvious. Leeds took this within their stride; Beckford scoring after only 19 minutes, catching the goalkeeper and defence out as the ball simple trickled over the line. Two minutes later another attempt upon the goal was made by the Leeds team, but a wide header from Becchio kept the score at 0-1.

Manchester responded strongly, fighting back, breaking forward, but missing every opportunity as the defence from Leeds made the shots difficult, causing curling shots to slide over the edge of the box.

It hadn’t reached half time before Manchester United player Wes Brown was booked; unsporting behaviour causing his down fall. It wasn’t the last booking of the day either; Darron Gibson [MUFC] received a yellow card for the same attitude, and the Leeds player, Richard Naylor, got a caution in the book. Bradley Johnson [LUFC] finalises the discipline, putting the number of yellow cards, for the game, up to four; Leeds coming out the cleaner of teams, after Brown narrowly avoided a second card.

Although three yellow cards were used, no goals were scored as the two teams fought for possession; Manchester using two substitutes, bringing on Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia in the place of Gabriel Obertan and Danny Wellbeck, and later substituting Michael Owen on in the place of Oliveira Anderson. Leeds didn’t maintain their team either, switching Jonathan Howson off to allow Robert Snodgrass to come on; later letting Lubomir Michalik join the action, replacing Luciano Becchio; Aidan White also playing within the extra time, taking Andy Hughes off.

The strong attack upon Leeds defence wasn’t good enough to break through the barrier, a header by Michael Owen going wide, on one of the few decent attempts.

5 minutes of extra time finished the second half; Leeds claiming their desired victory over their old rivals, in a truly breath taking match. Their determination and talent beat all expectations as they almost ran rings against Manchester, their 9000 visiting fans cheering on from the Lancaster dominated stands.

Simon Grayson [Leeds Manager] was quoted as being ‘proud’ or his team; and who wouldn’t be? Leeds played a fast paced game, not giving Manchester a chance to do what they do best, deserving the final result;

Manchester United 0 - 1 Leeds United
Posted on January 3rd, 2010 at 03:46pm

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