When Leeds United enjoyed the perfect early Christmas present with Manchester United tonic
LEEDS United will hope for a Festive boost against Burnley tomorrow.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites are looking to bounce back from Sunday’s heavy 6-2 reverse at arch rivals Manchester United in a first league clash between the two sides for 16 years.
Yet back in 1995 it was the Red Devils who were left with the Festive blues as Howard Wilkinson’s rampant Whites recorded a 3-1 victory against the old enemy on Christmas Eve at Elland Road.
Wilkinson’s side had been crowned champions of England three and a half years earlier and then put the huge disappointment of a subsequent 17th-placed finish behind them by coming fifth in the last two campaigns.
The Red Devils had been runners-up to Leeds in the 1991-92 title race but Sir Alex Ferguson’s outfit then won the league in the next two seasons before being denied a hat-trick of championships by Blackburn Rovers in 94-95.
Ferguson’s side arrived at Elland Road on Christmas Eve of 1995 looking to regain their crown but on a run of three points from a last possible 12 and no win in four.
Leeds were also in need of a Festive tonic having been hammered 6-2 at Sheffield Wednesday on the back of a 1-1 draw at home to Wimbledon and 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Ultimately, the Red Devils were on their way back to reclaiming the title and Ferguson’s side lined up at LS11 featuring former Whites favourite turned villain Eric Cantona who was booed with every touch of the ball.
The likes of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Andy Cole, Gary Neville and Steve Bruce also started for the visitors who had Paul Scholes on the bench.
Yet Wilkinson’s Whites ran out impressive winners with the Red Devils misery beginning in just the sixth minute when Nicky Butt conceded a penalty for handball.
Butt’s hand had denied David Wetherall a free header from a Gary McAllister corner and referee Dermot Gallagher pointed to the spot despite Bruce’s furious protests.
Up stepped McAllister to slam home a perfect spot kick which gave keeper Peter Schmeichel no chance as the ball flew into the top right corner.
The lead was then almost doubled as Carlton Palmer played in Brain Deane whose rising effort past an onrushing Schmeichel cannoned back off the crossbar.
That near miss looked like being costly mid-way through the first half when the Red Devils equalised through a clinical finish from Cole who fired home from the middle of the box after latching on to a cross from Butt who had dispossessed Speed.
Speed then went close to atoning for his error when letting fly with an attempt that clipped the right-hand post from the edge of the box.
But the Whites ensured they entered the interval in front via a fantastic strike from Tony Yeboah who cashed in on Paul Parker’s slip in the middle of the park and then ran at goal before turning Dennis Irwin and firing past Schmeichel from the edge of the box.
Leeds were back in front and this time they would not only stay there but increase their advantage in the latter stages through Deane.
With 17 minutes left, Cole scythed down Jobson on the left flank and Leeds worked the free kick to the opposite side of the park.
Palmer then teed up Thoms Brolin on the edge of the box and Brolin delivered a fine cross that Deane headed into the top right corner to ultimately put the Whites out of sight.
In the end, the Red Devils put themselves out of sight to win the league in finishing four points clear of runners up Newcastle United and Leeds could only finish 13th.
The campaign was to prove Wilkinson’s final full season in charge with the title-winning manager sacked the following September and replaced by George Graham.
The 94--95 season might not have compared to the 91-92 exploits yet December 24 gave Whites fans the perfect early Christmas present against their fiercest rivals.
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Thank you Laura Collins