ROB GREEN took all the plaudits for a superb save from the penalty spot on Saturday as his effort to keep out a decent effort from Jordan Rhodes ultimately bagged Leeds United all three points in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday.
Another penalty save made big headlines 16 years ago this weekend, when an extremely lucky Fabien Barthez denied Ian Harte as part of a hugely controversial 1-1 draw between Leeds and arch-enemy and defending champions Manchester United at Elland Road.
Leeds had finished third the previous season under David O’Leary with the Premier Division clash against the Red Devils arriving three days before a Champions League trip to Real Madrid.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were well on their way to defending their Premier League crown – having suffered just league losses all season – but there is little doubt that the March 3 trip to Elland Road should have resulted in another.
Leeds dominated from the off and were handed a golden opportunity when the contest reached boiling point in first- half stoppage time.
Robbie Keane swung in an inviting delivery from the left flank and Barthez dropped the ball under pressure from Harte, forcing Wes Brown to hack the ball clear. But as Brown’s clearance soared towards the half-way line, Barthez inexplicably kicked out at Harte who went tumbling down on the edge of the six yard box.
The incident was spotted by referee Graham Barber who awarded Leeds a spot-kick but only gave Barthez a yellow card.
And Leeds were left raging when after Harte dusted himself down to take the penalty, Barthez produced a fine low save.
The first half ended goalless and O’Leary then brought on Harry Kewell and Alan Smith for Keane and Dominic Matteo during the half-time break. Ferguson opted to withdraw Nicky Butt for 20-year-old Luke Chadwick.
And it was Chadwick who broke the deadlock three minutes after the hour when Nigel Martyn spilled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s low shot, giving Chadwick the simple task of tapping the ball home from six yards.
“Smash and grab” said Sky commentator Martin Tyler, with Leeds 27 minutes away from a cruel defeat.
But as the clock reached the 83rd minute Leeds finally got on the scoresheet after Danny Mills skinned former Leeds defender Denis Irwin before sending over a fine cross which was flicked on by Bowyer to Mark Viduka whose header was too quick for a stranded Barthez. And one point then looked to have become three in injury time after another error from Brown.
A clever pass from Mills released Bowyer to the right-hand side of the area and his low cross was dramatically diverted into the net by a sliding Brown.
But Brown was saved by a controversial offside flag – awarded for Viduka who had not even touched the ball and who appeared to be level.
“The offside was a shocking decision, and I don’t know how Fabien Barthez was still on the pitch to save the penalty,” fumed O’Leary, who echoed the sentiments of the vast majority of those inside Elland Road.
Crucially, Leeds ended up missing Champions League qualification by a single point, and many felt they deserved two more 16 years ago.
Leeds Utd 1
Man Utd 1 (Chadwick, 64)
Leeds: Martyn, Mills, Harte, Radebe, Ferdinand, Bowyer, Dacourt, Batty, Matteo (Kewell 46), Keane (Smith 46), Viduka. Subs not used: Kelly, Kewell, Robinson, Smith, Bakke.
Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Brown, Stam, Beckham, Scholes, Butt (Chadwick 46), Irwin, Sheringham (Yorke 69), Solskjaer. Subs not used: May, Rachubka, Greening.
Referee: Graham Barber (Tring).