Date: Wednesday, 7th November 1979.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.

Competition: UEFA Cup, Second Round, Second Leg.

Score: Leeds United 0 Universitatea Craiova 2.

Scorers: Leeds United: Nil. Universitatea Craiova: Cirtu, Beldeanu.

Attendance: 14,438.

Teams:

Leeds United: Lukic; Cherry, Stevenson; Flynn, Hart, Madeley; E. Gray, Parkinson (Harris), Hankin, Curtis, Graham.

Universitatea Craiova: Boldici; Negrila, Bumbescu; Unguireanu, Ticleanu (Donose), Stefanescu; Geolgau (Purima), Balaci, Camataru, Beldeanu, Cirtu.

Referee: Mr Antonin Wencil (Czechoslovakia).

 

Unitedís European days were fast coming to an end in the short-term and Jimmy Adamsonís side made an ignominious exit at the hands of the virtually unknown Craiova. United had to wait for thirteen years for another crack at Europeís elite. In the return leg of the Second Round tie at Elland Road United were never really in the hunt. It did, however, take the Romanians a long time to get their first goal and after a goalless first half Sorin Cirtu netted after sixty-eight minutes. It was Leeds that needed to do the scoring but they failed to make any impression on the score-sheet and it came as no surprise when Aurel Beldeanu got Universitateaís second of the night two minutes before the final whistle. It was an embarrassment for United to go out on a 4-0 aggregate, and it was to be a long time before the European nights returned to Elland Road.

 

Leeds responded with great character to the UEFA Cup mountain they had to climb at Elland Road only to be cruelly deflected out of Europe. They threw everything they had at the students from Craiova University but they were simply not good enough and when the Romanians scored in a breakaway with twenty-eight minutes left, it became unassailable. Over the two legs of the tie the students became the teachers and to underline their authority and class they finished Leeds off with one of the most spectacular shots seen at Elland Road for many a year. With six minutes left the Romaniansí most incisive player Illie Balaci pushed a corner out to Aurel Beldeanu and from thirty yards the midfield player hammered a rising shot which was in the back of the net almost before John Lukic became airborne. The goal in shooting terms was an action replay of the goal scored by Craiova back home in the first leg, which left Leeds trailing by two goals.

 

History was against Leeds. Even their great team of the previous decade never pulled back a tie in Europe after losing so decisively in the first leg, but the new Leeds could no be faulted in their effort to succeed. Failure however, only resulted in the chants for the resignation of Manager Jimmy Adamson and calls for the return of Don Revie. Inevitably after the game there was a demonstration by about three hundred supporters outside the main offices which was broken up by mounted police. It was the third successive home defeat United had suffered and the third time there had been a demonstration, but all the chants from the crowd could not save Leedsí European future. After waiting four years to get back their brief flirtation with the UEFA competition had lasted but three hundred and sixty playing minutes. Only 14.438 had turned up to watch Leedsí final effort, when the club needed at least 20,000 to break-even on three first two rounds of the tournament. But while Leeds still had a chance their encouragement was tremendous.

 

Adamson, trying to fund the scoring spark which had deserted his side in that season to that date, pushed Paul Hart forward into midfield and had Arthur Graham back in attack after injury. The plan seemed to be to use the big men down the middle and the attacking strength of Byron Stevenson, Eddie Gray and Arthur Graham to keep a constant flow of crosses from the left wing, and for a long time it looked as though Adamsonís tactics would pay off.

 

The rain eased before the start to allow Leeds more comfort for their quest and they immediately put the Students under siege much in the same way that Craiova had done in Romania when establishing their lead. It was intense football which Leeds loaded with commitment that was so sadly lacking in recent times, but to Craiovaís credit they rode the storm well. It was a pity that the England camp was not so well represented to see how the Romanians conducted themselves under pressure, as Craiova contained the cream of the national side that would face England in the World Cup qualifying tournament. The Romanians mounted a ten-man defence but always kept an eye open for the chance to break away. They knew that under the new away goal rules they only had to score once to be able to progress into the Third Round. The frenzied football saw a string of strong tackles from players of both sides. Once a fierce lunge for the ball from Arthur Graham left Costica Stefanescu the Craiova captain limping, and play was held up for a moment while Adrian Bambescu was helped off after a clash with Ray Hankin, but he was back in the fray within seconds.

 

Leeds desperately needed an early goal and ironically possibly their best chance came in the opening thirty seconds. Graham moved the ball to Stevenson down the left wing and when the defenderís cross came over Paul Hart, badly blinded by the run of Alan Curtis, headed unacceptably wide from close in. Three minutes later Gabriel Boldici saved at point blank range from Arthur Graham, but the more bodies Leeds pushed forward the more difficult it became. There were just too many bodies in the forty yards in front of the Craiova goal. There was always the danger too of the breakaway and in the twenty-fourth minute Rodion Camataru signalled what was to come later. He cleared the field and it took an inspired save from John Lukic to stop the striker opening Craiovaís account With twenty-two minutes left the students swept down the field in what was to be the decisive move. They set up a shooting chance from twenty-five yards out for Sorin Cirtu and the winger aimed a shot for Lukicís left hand post, but with the goalkeeper committed it took a heavy deflection off Byron Stevenson and lobbed gently into the other corner of the net. It was the goal Leeds feared but they did not give up hope and shots from Arthur Graham and Eddie Gray went close. Then in the eighty-fourth minute the students were awarded a corner and Illie Balaci took the kick on the right and found Aurel Beldeanu, who had missed a penalty in the first leg in Craiova, and he redeemed himself magnificently with the shot of the match giving John Lukic no chance with an unstoppable pile-driver from thirty yards..

 

 

Match Action: (Photos courtesy of Mark Ledgard)

 

 

Paul Hart heads high and wide

 

Supporters demonstrate outside the offices after the game

 

Players:

 

†† †††

John Lukic††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Trevor Cherry††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††Byron Stevenson

 

†††

Brian Flynn†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††Paul Hart††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Paul Madeley

 

††

Eddie Gray†††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Keith Parkinson†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††Carl Harris

 

††††† †††††††††††††

Ray Hankin†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††Alan Curtis††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Arthur Graham