Anyone expecting Leeds to be totally humiliated by last years Premier League runners-up will have been sorely disappointed last night as Leeds held their own against the European giants.

David N’Gog’s strike was all that seperated the two sides but the result could have been much different. Leeds thought they were ahead after a Robert Snodgrass corner was turned in by Jermaine Beckford. However, Lucciano Becchio lunged at the ball as it was crossing the line after coming from an offside position, but it’s unclear as to whether the ball had already crossed.

Whether the goal should have stood or not remains debatable. The more I watch the replay, the more unsure I am, but I’m not going to get hung up on that as there are so many positives for us to take from this game.

Liverpool had made seven changes from the side that started at the weekend, but remained cautious with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres on the bench. Torres never did get a chance to play infront of the sold-out Elland Road crowd, but the cautious Benitez did bring his captain on for the final fifteen minutes or so to try and secure victory, who took more than his fair share of stick from the Leeds faithful. Glen Johnson also made an appearence late on.

Liverpool’s part reserve, part first team line-up never managed to take control of the game as they maybe expected to. Leeds closed down well, attacked well and passed the ball fluently in patches. If anything, we probably had the better chances but paid the price for ultimately failing to convert.

There was some controversy late on when Javier Mascherano appeared to elbow Jermaine Beckford. Despite the referee having a perfect vantage point, nothing was awarded to Leeds. Mascherano escaped what should definitely have been a booking and perhaps a red card. Minutes later, David N’Gog found space in the box and slotted home to give Liverpool the lead.

The major negative for me last night was Andrew Hughes at left-back. Time and time again, Liverpool were able to find space down the right and Hughes held off the players rather than getting in and making the tackle. He was also out of position a lot of the night and most of the threat Liverpool posed came from his failure to clear the danger.

As I said earlier though, there was a lot of positives. Shane Higgs shined once more making a couple of important saves. His first save of the night was from a Ryan Babel shot that he collected comfortably, but his most notable one came just before half-time when he made a vital save from Albert Riera’s close range header leading to chants of ‘England’s number one’ from the crowd.

Elsewhere the midfield held their own in a tough battle. Jonny Howson continues to impress and has come on leaps and bounds in the last few months. Doyle didn’t do much wrong either, getting in quick with the tackles and passing well throughout. Bradley Johnson’s had better games, but didn’t do too much wrong in all fairness. The star of the show was Robert Snodgrass though who had his best game of the season so far.

Snoddy didn’t look out of place against Premiership opposition. He tackled well, passed well and controlled the right-wing throughout. I doubt there will be many Leeds fans suprised by his performance as we all know what he’s capable of, but he may well have caught the attention of some other clubs last night. At such a young age, Snoddy could have a long and prosperous career at Elland Road. As we climb back up the leagues, I firmly believe he can make that step with us.

For the other 38,000 fans alongside me in Elland Road last night, you were the real stars of the show. The Elland Road crowd has always been something special and we proved that to the world last night. The standard chants to tease the Liverpool fans were sang throughout alongside the usual chants to spur the boys on. At kick-off, the atmosphere was electric. The noise was truly deafening inside Elland Road, but what made me especially proud was the reaction of the fans when we went 1-0 down. As soon as the goal went in and Liverpool started celebrating, the stadium erupted into a chorus of “we are Leeds,” effectively silencing the Liverpool fans celebration.

After the final whistle blew, there was a standing ovation for the players and another chorus of ‘we are Leeds’ followed by Marching on Together. I imagine the players are feeling some disappointment after last nights result, but they’ll also take great pride from knowing they can compete against the best. Hopefully this will add to the belief that we can win League One outright and start clawing our way back towards the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez was extremely complimentary of Leeds in his post match interview, saying;

“The atmosphere was fantastic, Leeds were really good,

 “They are good team with good players and they worked really hard.”

Simon Grayson was also complimentary of the team and rightly proud of their efforts;

“I’m hugely proud of them. I thought they were excellent from start to finish.

“We certainly matched them and on another night we might have got the victory our performance deserved.

“We had good opportunities but over the course of it maybe we did not get the breaks we deserved.

“I felt Jermaine was level with the centre-half for the goal. I’m loath to criticise but when you look he was level and the goal should have stood.”

Overall, I feel proud to have seen our third division team compete so well with Premier League giants. On another night (with another linesman) we may well have come away victors, but that’s completely besides the point. Even in defeat, the performance can only add to the confidence within the squad and should serve as motivation to go and earn promotion.

TSS man of the match
Undoubtedly Robert Snodgrass for me. At such a young age, we have a terrific prospect who I honestly believe could compete at a much higher level. Didn’t put a foot wrong all night and truly deserves the praise he’ll receive.