A POWERHOUSE performance full of ferocity, intensity and quality saw Leeds United pile on the torment for Turkish outfit Besiktas 15 years ago this week – with the Whites firing in six of the best.
United may not have been pulling up any trees in the Premier League, –they resided in 10th spot ahead of the arrival of Besiktas – but they took out their frustration upon their visitors from the east. Lee Bowyer led the way with a double, with Mark Viduka, Dominic Matteo, Eirik Bakke and Darren Huckerby also on the scoresheet in an almost faultless display in a 6-0 triumph.
It ensured Leeds headed their group ahead of AC Milan, who prevailed 2-0 at Barcelona and provided a noteworthy evening in particular for Viduka, Matteo and Bakke, who struck their first goals for United. Besiktas may have been the minnows in the group, but had recorded a surprise 3-0 success over Barca and were opponents who needed to be afforded respect.
But a ruthless showing from Leeds, with Lucas Radebe returning for Michael Duberry and Viduka in for Bridges, comprehensively dismantled the Turks to get tongues wagging across the continent following their outstanding display.
The game as a contest was all over inside 22 minutes with Leeds racing into a 3-0 advantage against a team that was playing on English soil for the first time in 17 years. Before the kick-off each Turkish player had presented a bouquet of flowers to the crowd in memory of the two Leeds fans who had been so tragically murdered in Turkey the previous April.
United went in front just seven minutes in when Bowyer fired home his fifth strike of the season after Alan Smith failed to turn in Ian Harte’s centre.
Viduka spurned a chance to make it 2-0 soon after, but the Aussie redeemed himself in the 12th minute when his meaty header flew past keeper Ike Shoronmu following a pinpoint Gary Kelly cross for his first competitive goal in Whites’ colours.
With the Turks all over the place defensively, Leeds made further capital, although the visitors almost pulled one back on 18 minutes when Ahmet Dursan was presented with a good chance, but his shot was straight at Nigel Martyn.
Viduka then saw a long-ranger tipped away for a corner and from the resultant flag-kick from Olivier Dacourt, Matteo bundled the ball home with his milestone goal. Later on in the half, Matteo saw a header hit the post, with Radebe’s rebound flashing just wide.
The onslaught continued on the restart with Smith wasteful in heading off target following Bakke’s expert cross.
At the other end, Dursun should have done better, but Martyn saved with his legs before Bakke got in on the act with his maiden strike for the club.
Neat play from Smith set up Viduka, who squared the ball to the Norwegian, who emphatically finished high in the net on 65 minutes.
Deep into the second half, Huckerby, with pace to burn, was thrown into the fray to run at the tired and dispirited Turks and the move paid off.
Bakke was denied when the keeper saved his header, but from the following corner from Bowyer, Huckerby turned impressively to latch onto Harte’s header and fire home in the last minute of normal time.
There was still time for a sixth goal with fine play down the left from Huckerby setting up Bowyer, who put the seal on a fabulous evening which resonated against Europe, not only England.
Leeds United 6
(Bowyer (2), Viduka, Matteo, Bakke, Huckerby
Champions league, group h tuesday, september 26, 2000
Leeds United: Martyn; Kelly, Radebe, Mills, Harte; Bakke, Dacourt (McPhail), Bowyer, Matteo; Smith (Huckerby), Viduka. Unused subs: Bridges, Jones, Hay, Burns, Robinson.
Besiktas: Shoronmu; Erman (Rahim), Umit, Khelstov; Munch; Karhan, Ibrahim (Mehmet), Tayfur, Nihat; Dursun, Nouma (Fazil). Unused subs: Murat, Bayram, Yasin, Fevzi.
Referee: Vitor Manuel Melo Periera (Portugal),