EVENTS on the Elland Road turf were almost overlooked in the 11th minute of last week’s 1-0 win at home to Reading.
Nearly 30,000 fans inside Leeds United’s famous home rose to their feet in tribute to former winger Gary Speed – seven years to the day since his passing.
The Welsh wizard’s talents live long in the memory with Speed netting one of his 57 goals in a Whites shirt 25 years ago as Howard Wilkinson’s Whites saw off Brian Horton’s Manchester City in a 3-2 thriller at Elland Road on December 4, 1993.
City were a far cry from Pep Guardiola’s dominant force of today with the Citizens having finished ninth the previous season under Peter Reid.
As defending champions, Leeds had slumped to a 17th-placed finish – only avoiding the drop by two points – but the Whites lined up against City unbeaten in their last seven games and with just three league defeats all season but six draws.
Instead, a spate of victories had Manchester United 15 points clear at the top with Leeds and Speed seeking victory against the Red Devils’ Manchester rivals to cut the gap. A 24-year-old Speed took his place on the left wing and Leeds took only 11 minutes to open their account through Rodney Wallace.
Captain Gordon Strachan’s free-kick from the right hand side of the centre circle was floated into the City box and only half cleared to Wallace who took one touch to work space before unleashing a strong left-footed drive into the bottom right corner for his sixth goal in six games.
And it was a similar story just 11 minutes later when another Strachan free-kick, this time from the right flank, was again poorly defended.
City’s Steve McMahon attempted to clear but his header only found David Wetherall who deftly flicked the ball to Speed who unleashed a fine volley into the top left corner from 16 yards.
City boss Horton attempted to ring the changes at the break, bringing on Carl Griffiths for Fitzroy Simpson.
The move paid dividends just one minute after the break as Griffiths laid off a long ball for Mark Sheron to leather the ball home into the same corner that Speed had found midway through the first half.
United centre-back Chris Fairclough then endured a moment to forget which led to the Citizens levelling on the hour mark. Fairclough was ahead of Griffiths chasing a long punt towards his own goal but the defender’s hesitation before his back-header to keeper Mark Beeney was read like a book. Griffiths raced on to the poorly-placed header before rounding a despairing Beeney and tucking the ball away from a tight angle to make matters all square.
But with just five minutes remaining, Brian Deane showed why Wilkinson had splashed out £2.75m to land his services in the summer.
Deane had also scored against City on the opening day of the season in a 1-1 draw and the striker again proved City’s undoing as he reacted quickest amidst some penalty-box pinball to tuck the ball away into the bottom right corner.
Leeds United 3 (Wallace 11, Speed 22, Deane 85) Manchester City 2 (Sheron 54, Griffiths 60)
Premier League, December 4, 1993 at Elland Road
Leeds United: Beeney, Kelly, Fairclough, Wetherall, Dorigo, Sharp (Whelan 79), Strachan, McAllister, Speed, Rod Wallace (Ray Wallace 89), Deane. Sub not used: Lukic.
Manchester City: Coton, Kernaghan (Ingebrigsten 89), Vonk, Curle, Phelan, McMahon, White, Lomas, Simpson (Griffiths 46), Mike, Sheron. Sub not used: Dibble.