A Leeds team missing several first team regulars produced a scintillating performance in torrential rain to dump high-flying Everton out of the Capital One cup. The 2-1 victory at Elland Road sees Neil Warnock’s men through to the last sixteen of the competition, continuing a cup run which had already seen Leeds dispense of Shrewsbury Town and Oxford United prior to the visit of David Moyes’ top quality Premier League outfit.

A week is a long time in football. Just 7 days ago I was sat writing up a report of a lacklustre and drab home defeat at the hands of Hull City. Tonight, I may run out of superlatives to describe how impressive Leeds performed. The team were, quite simply, superb in every position. Commanding in defence. Industrious in midfield. Intelligent in attack.

Already without the services of Paul Green, David Norris and Ross McCormack, Warnock was forced to field a side also missing his first choice goalkeeper and his captain as Paddy Kenny and Lee Peltier failed to overcome knocks picked up against Nottingham Forest at the weekend. Jamie Ashdown lined up between the sticks whilst there were also surprise starts for Danny Pugh (left-back) and Michael Brown (centre midfield).

Whilst David Moyes didn’t name his strongest eleven, it wasn’t far off. Their starting line up featured the intimidating names of Sylvain Distin, Kevin Mirallas, Victor Anichebe and the big-haired fulcrum of fantasy football teams across the nation (Marouane Fellaini).

Leeds made the best possible start to the match, attacking Everton from the beginning and flying into a fourth minute lead. Aidan White picked up the ball thirty yards from goal before jinking expertly beyond two challenges and firing a left-foot shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area. Amazingly, for a player who has been in the Leeds first team squad for some time, this was White’s first competitive goal. It was a brilliant effort which set the scene for what was to be a brilliant evening for the home side.

As the eleventh minute arrived, the chants of “Gary, Gary Speed” reverberated around the stadium. Speed was a legend for both Leeds and Everton and is remembered warmly by both sets of supporters and a video medley of his greatest moments was played before kick-off. The tribute continued as planned for eleven minutes before culminating in a burst of applause on twenty-two minutes.

On the pitch, Leeds were more than matching their Premier League visitors. Half-chances came and went as El Hadji Diouf, Rodolph Austin and Michael Brown controlled the match. Everton did occasionally threaten to show their undoubted class, but all they had to show for it was a wayward Anichebe strike.

As the match approached half time, Leeds threatened to score a second. Michael Tonge, who had his best match in a Leeds shirt to date, struck a fierce free kick wide of the goal. In stoppage time at the end of the half, Luciano Becchio saw a header agonisingly hooked off the line.

David Moyes’ response to Leeds dominance was to throw on the big boys. Steven Pienaar and Phil Neville entered the fray for the second half as two of Everton’s lesser names were hauled from the action.

Moyes’ substitutions began to have an effect as Everton began the second period on the front foot. Leeds were penned back for ten minutes as waves of attacks from the away side careered towards Jamie Ashdown’s goal. Anichebe again went close, narrowly firing beyond the far post. However, Leeds’ defensive four of Byram, Pearce, Lees and Pugh (putting in an unexpectedly assured display) coped relatively comfortably with Fellaini et al.

At the other end, Michael Tonge dribbled into the penalty area before firing wide. El Hadji Diouf was at the centre of everything good about Leeds from an attacking sense, whilst Rodolph Austin and Michael Brown were simply everywhere and gave Everton’s midfield no time on the ball.

Moyes rolled the dice a final time and sent on his star striker Nikica Jelavic, but Leeds would soon score a deserved second goal. Diouf played a free-kick along the floor to the edge of the area for Danny Pugh to fire towards the bottom corner. As the ball entered a tangle of legs in the six yard box, it was Rodolph Austin who managed to flick the ball beyond the goalkeeper to give Warnock’s men a 2-0 lead with twenty minutes remaining.

As Leeds hoped to see the match comfortably through to the end, Everton hit back. A free-kick into the Leeds penalty area was met by a looping header from Sylvain Distin which found the top corner.

In spite of some heavy pressure over the final ten minutes, Leeds held on for victory as Diouf once again showed why Warnock has such faith in him by running down the clock in a magnificently professional manner.

So then, anyone fancy a trip to Wembley?

Many thanks to those of you who entered my ‘predict the score’ competition on Twitter. The closest guess came from George Dyer (@Ole1985) who correctly and optimistically predicted a 2-1 victory. Send your predictions (including goalscorers) for the next home match to me @Matt_K_Burton for the chance to be mentioned in the match report.

  • Matthew

    All I can really say is HOLY SHIT WE WON YEESSSSS!!!!
    That was an Everton side that by all accounts would be top 6 in this division with the quality it contained, and we won. Easily proving that when our backs are against the wall, we pull off miracles like this.
    Hope we get either a shit team at home, or a team like Chelsea/Arsenal/Scum away. We either take the easy route, and beat a team like Bradford at home, or the hard route and go knock Arsenal out at the Emirates, something we should of done already, if it wasn’t for that stupid mistake in the last few minutes which made the game 1 – 1.

  • Jettatura

    So pleased for Col and the lads!

    Tremendous performances all round. Yes, Aidy White got the MOTM but this genuinely was an occasion when they ALL deserved it!

    Special mentions must also go to Austin and particularly to Diouf who were both outstanding.

    This was Leeds best performance this season and in fact the best we’ve seen under Colin.

    Just imagine what he could achieve if he was given funds!

    • Bubionwhite

      Just imagine what he could achieve with a fully fit squad … McCormack, Somma, Norris and Green. Add to that a belief in some of the young players … Byram, Poleon, Thompson etc. and the return from loan of an experienced Robbie Rogers. Wouldn’t take too much investment Mr Bates.
      Incredible result … well done team. You are all MOTM.

      • Jettatura

        Agreed! Still buzzing after that! MOT!

  • Freddy

    Great performance we were worthy winners. Noticed Bradford went through as well I would love to get them or Chelsea in next round.

  • Craig Sweaton

    Diouf for P.M. lol
    I think he’s back to his best and as much as I was unconvinced before he came, he’s now indespensable.
    Well done Leeds. MOT

    • Matthew

      Yeah. Diouf was godly yesterday and the poor guy ended up on the receiving end of some nasty fouls by some dirty Everton players.

  • oldschoolbaby

    Tremendous. All about the discipline for me, Everton`s set piece can be devastating. Even Brown, who was looking to impose himself on the young everton debutant from the outset, restrained himself for an hour. Haven`t always been the biggest NW fan but he is quite masterful at getting the maximum out of whatever resources he has to hand
    Fantastic headline to this piece, btw. The Sun could be beckoning

    • TimPM

      Brown’s a mystery to me. He’s had some poor games last season, but even then he’d put in the odd shift like this one that suggests he’s still a great player.

      Lees & Pearce were the biggest highlight in a sublime performance for me. Both put their bodies on the line, got into exactly the right positions, and tackled with near perfection.

      • oldschoolbably

        My theory is that he has been slow to acknowledge he hasn`t got the engine he once had. If he can adapt his game to a holding midfielder he could be a huge bonus. Last season he incensed me with his wild tackles, invariably in the opposition half, where he calculated the ref might be a little more lenient. Playing more conservatively would allow Austin / Tonge / White, to get forward more. The beauty of White`s goal is that it made the defenders worry about him cuuting inside from the right which left some room for Byram`s forays. If Brown can consistently play this role well he will give NW something to think about

  • Yorkshirian

    Brilliant response by all those who’ve been getting stick. Pugh, White and Brown showing they can do it if they want to. Credit to Diouf, too. He played really intelligently. Who’d a thought !?
    As for Donkey Goodman on the telly…. get a new job, idiot.

    • I agree sick of that prick commentating on Leeds game! Would love to know why he is so anti-Leeds

      • NottsWhite

        Sour grapes – he used to live in Leeds and played football for a crappy Northern Eastern counties team (Collingham FC). Never spotted by Leeds

  • Very good performance! no mention of the clear penalty against Pearce not given though? thought we were lucky to escape that call but overall i think we were good value for the win.

  • Snowjoke

    Never previously saw anything at all to like about EHD. Always seemed a throughly nasty, arrogant piece of work with no redeeming qualities other than obvious, but rarely-glimpsed, talent. However, “Dioufy” really does appear to have seen the light and his mature, steadying performances against Forest and Everton have been a revelation. Suddenly, also, there’s lots of positive talk about his good attitude and conribution behind the scenes. If all these good vibes are right, credit goes to NW whose powers of persuasion in getting him on board, integrated and playing so influentially must have been seriously tested. Thing is, having found the experienced head our team so badly needs, what are we doing to tie him down? Before other clubs come sniffing round and “his head is turned”? It would be reassuring evidence of ambition to hear that something better than his present short-term, play-for-peanuts contract was on offer. Would it not?

  • Sunnyleeds

    What a difference a good manager in a unique atmosphere like Leeds makes!

    • mrbigwheels

      In reality, the pre match team listing based on what Warnock had available looked frightening and no doubt many of us cringed and said, ”no chance”, but NW has to be congratulated for whatever he’s done/said/coached into the fringe players, also White, Brown and Pugh even. Tonge just moulded with Austin, etc and I’m left feeling great and wondering… ‘what is in front of us?’.
      A Paddy for everyone… obviously.

      Great game of football.

  • pete58

    Can’t stop smiling.

  • Irving08

    This team has more than a whiff about it of Wilko’s promotion-winning side. Player comparisons aside, there is a similar togetherness, for which Warnock deserves immense credit. The impressive performance of the ‘stand-ins’ may also have something to do with everybody feeling involved in virtue of the relatively modest size of the squad. It wouldn’t take much additional investment to turn us into contenders.

    • Tyler75

      Completely agree – also despite his undoubted class, Snodgrass never controlled a game like Diouf did last night – alongside Austin he was immense. Special mention too for Tonge who looked like the player he was at Sheff Utd – with a few more 90 mins under his belt, he could become an important player for us this season.

  • Kalich

    and of course que ye olde Bates line ” that you dont need a big squad to compete” , just waiting for the ” I told you so, idiots ” to complete the statement

  • LUFC4life

    Billy must have looked down and grinned last night. 90+ minutes of blood n guts, passion and pride in the shirt. He knew many nights like that and we’ve been waiting a long time to see another. Well done lads! Oh, and if you’re reading this Bates, don’t take any credit for the performance! Just go away and give us back our club. Your’e hated by everyone who loves LUFC and the only gratitude you’ll ever get from us will be a big “Thankyou” when you finally do the right thing and FUCK OFF!!!

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