Leeds United nostalgia: Robbie’s to the rescue as Leeds triumph in France

Robbie Keane.
Robbie Keane.
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AFTER A hectic start to the new campaign, Leeds United have been able to recharge the batteries this week ahead of Saturday’s Championship trip to Norwich City.

But 15 years ago this week a trip to north east France was in the offing as David O’Leary’s Leeds scraped through the second round of the UEFA Cup with a 6-5 win on aggregate against Troyes – despite a 3-2 loss in the second leg in France.

Having finished fourth in the Premier League the previous season and missing qualification for the Champions League by a solitary point, United were handed a third outing in the UEFA Cup in four years with the 2001-02 run beginning with a clash against Portuguese opposition in Maritimo.

A 1-0 defeat in Portugal was followed with a 3-0 success at Elland Road in the second leg, booking Leeds a place in the second round and a clash with Troyes.

The French side were seen off 4-2 at Elland Road on the third Thursday in October thanks to doubles from Mark Viduka and Lee Bowyer, but two away goals gave the French side hope.

Leeds visited Troyes for the return leg following a 1-1 draw at Manchester United and a goalless draw at home to Chelsea – the two games in the Premier which followed the first leg Troyes clash.

And the Whites fell 1-0 down after just seven minutes when Gharib Amzine beat Nigel Martyn with a stunning strike from 25 yards.

The recalled Michael Duberry, making his first start since September, cleared the ball for a corner after Martyn’s poor clearance and Troyes made Leeds pay in style.

Patrice Loko – who had bagged a double in the first leg at Elland Road – played the set piece out to Amzine who smashed home a brilliant effort to give his side the lead.

Leeds were one goal away from going behind in the tie on away goals but the Whites levelled seven minutes later when Troyes ’keeper Tony Heurtebis palmed a corner to David Batty who crossed the ball for Viduka to head home from close range.

But Troyes were to prove a tough nut to crack and the French side regained the lead nine minutes before the interval when David Hamed’s free-kick hit Dominic Matteo before deflecting past Martyn.

Again, Troyes were one goal shy from going through on away goals and the home side were roared on to seek a third strike on the night in the second half.

Three minutes before the hour they got it when Jerome Rothen fired past Martyn from a low cross at the near post.

Leeds were suddenly heading out and Loko should have made it curtains for the Whites but instead fired over with Martyn to beat.

And Leeds made the French side pay for their profligacy when Robbie Keane struck 14 minutes from time to put United into the next round.

After breaking from a counter attack, Viduka’s shot was deflected to Keane who headed home amid French appeals for offside to make it 6-5 on aggregate.

Another goal for Troyes would have taken the game to extra time at 6-6 and Amzine went closest with a long range attempt but Leeds held firm, jumping past the French side to book a third round date with Swiss side Grasshoppers in the next round.

Troyes: Heurtebis, Boutal, Olivier Thomas, Saifi, Hamed, Rothen, Bradja, Tourenne, Amzine, Loko, Danjou. Subs: Sekli, Adam, Gousse, Jbari, Leroy, Niang.

Leeds: Martyn, Mills, Duberry, Matteo, Harte, Bakke, Dacourt, Batty, Kewell, Viduka, Keane. Subs: Robinson, Kelly, McPhail, Wilcox, Smith, Burns.

Referee: M De Santis (Italy).