Date: Tuesday, 8th May 2001.
Venue: Mestella Stadium, Valencia,
Competition: ECL Semi-Final,
3 Leeds United 0.
Sanchez (2) Mendieta. Leeds
Valencia: Canizares; Angloma, Pellegrino, Ayala, Albelda;
Mendieta (Angulo), Aurelio,
Gonzalez (Vincente), Aimar
(Deschamps); Sanchez, Carew.
Unused Subs: Djukic, Zahovic,
Diego Alonso, Palop.
Leeds United: Martyn, Mills,
Ferdinand, Matteo, Harte; Bakke, Batty, Dacourt, Kewell; Smith, Viduka. Unused
Subs: Kelly, Woodgate, McPhail,
Wilcox, Burns, Maybury, Robinson.
Referee: Urs Meier (Austria).
A capacity 53,000 crammed the Mestalla
Stadium for a night that was always going to end in tears, unfortunately for
United they were tears of sorrow and not joy. Deprived of the services of
talisman Lee Bowyer, United again were subjected to a Mendieta
master class and as early as the third minute he had Nigel Martyn
at full stretch. It was also he that provided the inch perfect cross when Juan
Sanchez scored with a diving header. United appealed in vain that a hand was
involved. They fought back manfully and went close on occasions but just the
single goal separated the two teams at half-time with United knowing that an
equaliser would see them through. Against the meanest defence in Europe it was
never going to be easy, but three minutes into the second half a great 25 yards
shot from Juan Sanchez tilted the game in Valencia’s favour and five minutes
later Mendieta put it beyond doubt to cap a fine
display. To United’s disgrace Alan Smith brutally
assaulted a Valencia
defender and got a red card for an act of total stupidity, and even more
impetuous and irresponsible as it happened in injury time. So United left Valencia
in disgrace rather than triumph
United were given a nasty shock on the eve of the
game when a ban was imposed on United talisman Lee Bowyer. Eirik
Bakke was drafted in to take his place. Valencia were without Amedeo Carboni and Ruben Baraja who were
suspended and Fabio Aurelio and Pablo Aimar took
there places. The United players, with the exception of Ian Harte
had all had their heads shaven, so it was hard to tell Danny Mills and Olivier Dacourt from the rest. Valencia's fortress Mestalla
was vibrant and the atmosphere befitting an all-or-nothing Champions League
semi-final and the Spaniards were swiftly into their stride, Mendieta powering in a third minute angled drive which had
Nigel Martyn at full stretch to save. Mark Viduka
was fouled and Danny Mills crossed from the right, but it was taken easily by Canizares. Then a Harry Kewell
cross from the left was wasted as Alan Smith failed to get a touch to it. Harry
Kewell again put in another telling cross after a
misdirected back pass from Juan Sanchez, but Canizares
was able to punch clear. After John Carew crossed
well, Juan Sanchez was dispossessed at the last moment by Rio Ferdinand.
Sanchez’s header from a Mendieta cross was off
target. It then started to look
ominous for United and after just sixteen minutes Valencia grabbed the lead. A glorious ball
across the face of goal from Mendieta was turned in
by a diving Juan Sanchez to vain protests from the United
camp that he had handled. United
came back and Mark Viduka won a corner. David Batty
tried force his way through, but he lost control as United continued to
struggle to find an opening against a compact and unyielding defence. After twenty-six minutes Harry Kewell
managed a shot from twenty yards which went over the bar and when the play
swept to the Leeds end, Danny Mills gave away a corner
to keep out Jocelyn Angloma's cross. Leeds cleared the corner and Olivier Dacourt jinked forward through
three challenges before unleashing a drive which, although powerful enough, was
straight at Canizares.
Mark Viduka showed great skill on the left of the area before
picking out David Batty, whose first-time volley had Canizares
sinking to his knees to save. Then Alan Smith fired in a low cross-shot and Leeds were
taking the game to Valencia now in the desperate search for an equaliser. The
Spaniards absorbed the pressure and retaliated through the superb Mendieta but his cross was too high for John Carew to get in a decent header. Kily
Gonzalez went down in the area under a challenge from Eirik
Bakke but the referee saw things in Leeds’ favour. Fabio Aurelio won a corner on the left
and Roberto Ayala got up well to head the flag-kick just over. David Batty battled well to get Alan
Smith through on goal as half-time approached, but Mauricio Pellegrino stopped
him before he could get a shot in.
Olivier Dacourt had been United’s
shining light closely followed by David Batty who was using his big-match
experience to the fullest, but Valencia defence were
showing that their reputation of being the meanest in Europe was not unfounded,
and United need much more guile and strength to breach it.
minutes into the second-half and a magnificent twenty-five yard left-foot shot
from Juan Sanchez gave Nigel Martyn no chance as it
flew straight as an arrow into the bottom left-hand corner, and everyone knew
it was curtains for Leeds. They had to go on all out attack and that was a
situation tailor-made for Mendieta and soon he looked
certain to score as he glided through, but fortunately for United he overran
the ball and Nigel Martyn collected. It was only a
brief respite, however, and the immaculate Valencia skipper repeated his run in the
fifty-second minute, only this time he buried his shot into the bottom
left-hand corner of the net. At 3-0 it was time for Valencia to show their undoubted class as
they toyed with Leeds.
Juan Sanchez beat Nigel Martyn but his shot rebound
of a post to safety and the crowd roared for more.
Mark Viduka was fouled by Roberto Ayala and Ian Harte had the chance of a well placed twenty yard
free-kick, but it was tamely hit and it seemed that it might be Leeds’ last throw of the dice. Valencia
for their part were looking for more and Nigel Martyn
had to palm away a shot from John Carew and Miguel
Angel Angulo put the rebound high and wide, but Nigel
Martyn’s day was not quite over and he was again made
to hurl himself across his goal to deny the hat-trick seeking Juan Sanchez. It
all ended in disgrace for Leeds
and particularly Alan Smith who brutally assaulted Vicente, appropriately in
injury time, and he received his marching orders from the field as a humbled Leeds exited ignominiously from the
competition. For his sins Alan Smith was expected to receive at least a
three-match ban which would keep him out of the early part of the following
season's European campaign, no matter if it was in the UEFA Cup or, most unlikely,
the Champions League. His calling card in Spain was impetuous, irresponsible and
unforgivable. Leeds deserved better. They deserved to
have gone out with their dignity intact.
Harry Kewell finds
himself isolated by Giazka Mendietta
and Jocelyn Angloma
Juan Sanchez and John Carew
celebrate as Rio Ferdinand and Danny Mills accept the inevitable
Roy Aitken, Eddie
Gray, Brian Kidd and David O’Leary appear a dejected bench
Olivier Dacourt takes
on David Albelda
Alan Smith tries to get between Giazka Mendietta and Jocelyn Angloma
Harry Kewell tries to
beat Jocelyn Angloma
A dejected Olivier Dacourt
at the end of the game
Leeds United Team at Valencia European Cup Semi-Final Second Leg 08-05-01
Back Row: Dominic Matteo,
Mark Viduka, Rio Ferdinand, Danny Mills, Nigel Martyn, Ian Harte.
Front Row: Eirik Bakke, David Batty, Olivier Dacourt,
Alan Smith, Harry Kewell.
denied Danny Mills’ head
was already Rio Ferdinand dispossessed Dominic Matteo
was in central defence
Juan Sanchez shaved
Ian Harte did not shave his head.
David Batty’s big match experience showed.
Olivier Dacourt was a shining light.
Harry Kewell’s cross was wasted by Alan Smith.
showed United were without
talisman Lee Bowyer, Eirik Bakke
replaced him Alan Smith
disgraced the club by
way he was sent off
Fabio Aurelio and Pablo Aimar
came into the starting eleven Miguel Angel Angulo and
Didier Deschamps were used as substitutes
Andres Palop, Miroslav Djukic and Diego Alonso were unused substitutes