Date: Saturday, 11th April 1992.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
United 3 Chelsea 0
United: Wallace, Chapman, Cantona.
Leeds United: Lukic; Hodge (Newsome), Dorigo;
Batty, Fairclough, Whyte; Strachan, Rod Wallace (Cantona),
Chapman, McAllister, Speed.
Chelsea: Beasant; Clarke (Dixon), Myers; Jones, Elliott, Monkou; Le Saux (Barnard),
Townsend, Stuart, Cascarino, Wise.
Referee: Mr N. Midgeley (Bolton).
A party always needs a good
magician and French star Eric Cantona conjured up his
own moment of magic against Chelsea at Elland Road in April of 1992. The clash with
the Londoners was crucial to United’s title hopes and
the enigmatic Frenchman capped a tremendous home display with one of the
greatest goals ever seen at Elland Road. Cantona,
who was on the bench, had only started five games for United and had been the
only player to pay the price for the potentially damaging 4-0 defeat at
Manchester City a week earlier. It was a game United simply had to win. Closest
rivals Manchester United were inactive and victory would see Howard Wilkinson’s
team back at the top of the table, even though only temporarily.
The first half saw United
work hard with little impact, but Chelsea showed little ambition and Leeds raced into a two goal lead with Rod
Wallace and Lee Chapman netting. The comfortable advantage, coupled with the
blazing sun, created a party atmosphere inside Elland Road, and the scene was set for the
French magician. Cantona’s first touch, after coming
on for Rod Wallace, saw him unselfishly set up Chapman for United’s
second goal, but no one was prepared for the grand finale. Cantona
had shown undoubted talent in his earlier appearances but had yet to stamp his
mark, up to that point!
A Gordon Strachan throw in was met by the right boot of the
mercurial Cantona, who delicately chipped the ball
over the head of defender Paul Elliott. He repeated the process with his left
foot, leaving Elliott in a crumpled heap, before letting go the sweetest of
half-volleys past the helpless David Beasant in the Chelsea goal. It was a moment of pure magic
and the Elland Road faithful knew it. Not only were
United going back to the top, but Cantona’s goal
would be talked about for years to come.
The French National anthem rang out loud and clear from the Kop and few would
have predicted the sad demise of the Cantona love
affair just five months later. “The game will always be remembered for Eric’s
goal.” Recalled United ace Gary McAllister. “In that one moment he proved what
a special footballer he was. You would not see many better strikes than that.
It was a privilege to be on the pitch when it went in.”
The 3-0 victory proved to
be the start of a five-match unbeaten run which saw United
claim the title with a 3-2 win at Sheffield United on the penultimate weekend
of that season.
Rod Wallace, Lee
Chapman and Eric Cantona got the Leeds goals
A Gordon Strachan
throw-in Gary McAllister was in awe. Steve Clarke and Andy Myers were the
started the move for Cantona’s goal.
Dave Beasant was in
the Chelsea goal Paul Elliott and Ken Monkou
were the central defenders
Graeme Le Saux,
former United cult-hero Vinnie Jones, Andy Townsend
and future United Manager Dennis Wise formed the midfield
Graham Stuart and Tony Cascarino
started as the Chelsea strikers Darren Barnard and Kerry Dixon came off