THE PRE-MATCH talk may have solely surrounded one Leeds United striker ahead of the home clash with Queen’s Park Rangers almost two decades ago, but it ended with another taking his share of the limelight.
The vast majority of a crowd of 28,780 mainly descended upon Elland Road on January 24, 1995 to catch their first glimpse in action of one man – in the shape of £3.4m forward Tony Yeboah.
Yet in the event, they were also left talking about another at the final whistle.
Namely Phil Masinga, who took his tally to five goals in two matches after hitting a brace in the 4-0 pounding of the R’s.
Queen’s Park Rangers were left entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone by the result whereas United were positioned in a far healthier seventh position on the league ladder.
After enduring a veritable goal famine since slipping away from the UEFA Cup positions in the autumn, United enjoyed a belated harvest, with Brian Deane and David White also finding the net.
Watching most of the action unfold from the bench until coming on six minutes from time for his debut was Yeboah, who declared himself 80 per cent fit after arriving from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt five days earlier.
Boss Howard Wilkinson kept faith up front with Masinga and Deane, with the former fresh from netting a famous nine-minute hat-trick after coming on as a replacement in the 5-2 extra-time FA Cup win against Walsall just seven days previously.
Goals in the league at LS11 were a different matter entirely, with Leeds heading into the game without a goal on home soil since December 10 when they drew 2-2 with West Ham United.
Goalless draws arrived against Newcastle United on Boxing Day and Southampton on January 14, with another blank coming in the 2-0 loss to visiting Liverpool on New Year’s Eve 1994.
The drought ended on the half-hour when Nigel Worthington’s inswinging corner was dispatched from six yards out by Masinga, enjoying a purple patch in a somewhat inconsistent time at United.
The goals trickle promptly turned into something akin to a flood with Gary McAllister soon linking adeptly with Gary Speed, whose flick was latched onto by White.
He, in turn, sidefooted home three minutes later.
Rangers’ sole moment of first-half threat arrived when John Lukic had to be alert to save a header from visiting midfielder – and ex-United player – Steve Hodge and despite having their moments early in the second half, led by Les Ferdinand, they failed to find a way through.
Deane fired an effort just wide at the near post two minutes after the hour mark before a killer third goal arrived two minutes later on 64 minutes.
It was Masinga who again took a bow when he converted from close range after Speed’s effort hit the post.
With Rangers’ resistance broken, Deane went onto grab United’s fourth goal seven minutes from time, with the arrival of Yeboah for Masinga shortly after sealing a rewarding 90 minutes.
But not before the South African was handed a rapturous ovation upon leaving the field before the inevitable cheers arrived when Yeboah – the man with dynamite in his boots – entered the fray.