AULD enemies will collide this Friday evening when England and Scotland meet in a competitive fixture for the first time since the European Championship qualifiers of 1999.
And Anglo-Scots rivalry was again on the agenda 24 years ago last Friday when Walter Smith’s Glasgow Rangers nicked a 2-1 victory at Elland Road to send Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds United crashing out of the 1992-1993 European Cup.
Back in the days when only league champions played in the Champions League – or European Cup as it was back then – Leeds were England’s sole representatives in the competition having beaten Manchester United to the old First Division title the previous season. The European adventure began with a first round clash against German champions Stuttgart and United looked likely to be heading for an early exit after a 3-0 loss in the first leg in Germany in mid-September.
United then won the second leg 4-1 at Elland Road and the Germans were heading through on away goals until it was discovered that they had broken the rules by playing a fourth foreign player.
A play-off match in Barcelona was ordered which United won 2-1 thanks to goals from Gordon Strachan and Carl Shutt. The second round draw presented Scottish champions Rangers next and United again had work to do in the second leg having lost 2-1 in the first leg at Ibrox on Wednesday, October 21.
Wilkinson’s men also approached the second leg at Elland Road without a win from their last four games.
Nevertheless, even with Leeds missing the injured David Batty, with an away goal to count on and home advantage behind them, hopes were high that United could turn the tie on its head.
But matters went pear-shaped after just three minutes when Mark Hateley produced a left-footed rocket to beat John Lukic from 25 yards. The goal, which put Rangers 3-1 up on aggregate, came just moments after Andy Goram had produced a wonderful save to deny Eric Cantona.
Goram would go on to prove United’s nemesis with the keeper then twice denying Cantona again before a Chris Whyte corner was cleared off the line by Stuart McCall.
United had to take risks and push on and there was always a danger the Whites would get caught out at the back.
And that’s exactly what happened one minute before the hour when Cantona lost possession, allowing Rangers to work the ball to Hateley who delivered a gem of a cross for Ally McCoist to head past Lukic from five yards.
United were now 4-1 down and Rod Wallace was then brilliantly denied by Goram who turned his effort on to the post before Leeds finally made a breakthrough when Cantona netted after Lee Chapman’s header with five minutes left.
But it was too little, too late for Leeds, especially given the form of Goram who made further saves from Cantona, Wallace and Gary Speed in the closing stages.
The two clubs have not met since and Rangers went on to finish second in their group stage – behind Group A winners Marseille who went on to beat Milan in the final. Two more points would have put Rangers in the final instead.
But for Goram, Leeds probably would have sent them packing two rounds earlier at Elland Road.
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