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Matches
28 May 1971 - Juventus 2 Leeds United 2
European Fairs Cup final first leg - Stadio Communale - 45,000
Scorers: Madeley, Bates
Juventus: Piloni; Spinosi, Salvadore, Marchetti, Furino, Morini, Haller, Capello, Causio, Anastasi (Novellini), Bettega
Leeds United Sprake; Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones (Bates), Giles, Madeley

printer friendly version John Charles after his big money move to Turin in 1957

1970/71 had been another season of "if only"s for Leeds United. They led the First Division table for virtually the entire season, starting like a steam engine and looking certainties for an age to regain the championship they had won so well in 1969.

In the end, however, they could not withstand the remorseless, nagging pursuit by Arsenal. The Gunners steamrollered their way to the title after mastering the black art of snatching late goals to secure narrow victories. They made a virtue of grinding out win after win and in the end Leeds had to yield, ending another season as League runners up, the fourth time they had done so in seven years.

But as the dust settled on a disappointing campaign there was one final opportunity for the Elland Road club to secure some silverware.

A magnificent victory at Liverpool in the first leg of the Fairs Cup semi final provided the foundation for a place in United's third Fairs final in five attempts and they duly completed the job with a goalless draw at Elland Road.

Leeds' opponents in the two legged final were Juventus of Turin, the club to whom they had sold the legendary John Charles in 1957. The Welshman inspired the Italians' dominance of their domestic game over the next five years, but, after he left Italy for a short return to Elland Road, they conquered the Serie A only once, in 1967.

However, after several lean years when they slipped off the podium, Juve were now starting to re-emerge as one of the giants of Italian football. Former Inter captain, Armando Picchi, who led that club to 3 Scudetti and a couple of European Cups in the Sixties, had been appointed coach at Juventus in 1970 and was the architect behind a revival. The club's advance provided a gilded showcase for some outstanding young talent, such as Roberto Bettega, Franco Causio and the world's most expensive footballer, Pietro Anastasi, signed in 1968 from Varese.

Their forces also included the West German forward, Helmut Haller, World Cup finalist in 1966, defensive midfielder Giuseppe Furino, who went on to win eight Scudetti with Juve between 1972 and 1984, defender Sandro Salvadore, a veteran of more than 300 Serie A games for the club, and schemer Fabio Capello, in later years an outstanding pan-European club manager, eventually going on to coach the England team.

The Italian club was in sombre mood as the Fairs Cup final neared: 35-year-old Picchi was in the final stages of a battle against cancer and was to lose that struggle the day after the first leg. The Czech coach of Juve's youth team, Cestmír Vycpálek, was promoted to the role of head coach and took control for the final.

As if in empathetic sorrow for Picchi's plight, as United flew into Turin the skies yielded a flood of tears. Geoffrey Green in the Times: "The heavens have been raging here over the nearby Italian Alps. A grey pall hangs over the city; thunder and lightning have rattled the window panes as if some irate neighbour were moving heavy furniture in the upstairs apartment. The rain has fairly bucketed down. Leeds, however, are smiling gently. The conditions could be right up their street.

"The Yorkshiremen may well need every side perk. Eight of them, in one way or another, were involved in the British championship last week at the end of a nine months' slog which, for most of them, entailed nearly 60 hard matches and which saw them finally lose the League title. All of them, however, are said to be fit, which is as well since they now face a basically young, talented and enthusiastic Juventus side shepherded by the experience of two elder statesmen - Salvadore, the 31-year-old former Italian international defensive sweeper, and Haller, now 33, the West German World CupFormer West German international Helmut Haller was an experienced member of the Juve midfield player.

"Under their wings are young men like Anastasi, a brilliantly elusive centre-forward acquired three years ago at the age of 20 for the astronomical sum of Ł440,000, who would surely have led the Italian forward line in Mexico last summer but for injury; Bettega, a 20-year-old forward, and other striplings, such as Capello, Spinosi, Piloni, the goalkeeper, Cuccureddu and possibly Causio, another striker. All these have just about qualified for their own latchkeys and - Anastasi apart - are unknown to us at home."

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If the Juventus players were for the most part a closed book to the British football public, Don Revie would never leave such things to chance and ordered the customary cataloguing and dossier compilation to provide his men with an insight into their opponents. He was fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses, saying, "We shall play it by ear, adapting our tactics to the situation."

The match was staged on the evening of Wednesday, 26 May, in Turin's magnificent Stadio Communale. The heavy downpour that started in the afternoon was still in full sway and it was clear that conditions would make play a lottery. Geoffrey Green claimed that "It was really only something of a formal concession to the crowd huddled high up on the steep terraces of the stadium that this match was attempted at all. But the crowd took it all stoically, their banked umbrellas for all the world resembling black mushrooms, sprouting in the rain. Even at the start, wide tracks of water dotted the pitch."

Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "Many had been standing in the heavy downpour for more than an hour before the match had started. The rain which was falling when Leeds arrived in Turin, restarted this afternoon and developed into a fierce thunderstorm as kick off time approached.

"The ditch separating spectators from the pitch was filled with water. An hour before the kick off, the terraces were a sea of umbrellas and plastic macs. Their owners saw the referee inspect the sodden pitch, on which pools of water were lying, twice before the kick off. At first it was thought unlikely the match would go on. But about 50,000 of the 70,000 capacity were already in the ground.

"Firecrackers exploded on the terraces while groundsmen fought the pitch and eventually the players appeared. It looked impossible to play but postponement promised even more difficult problems.

"The match started on time with Leeds kicking off against the tide and wind. It was soon obvious that the match should never have started. Ground passing was impossible. The ball just stuck as soon as it hit the mud. And it was a bath for the players each time they fell and that was often."

Despite the dreadful conditions, the two teams did what they could to play good football. The hosts had most of the possession and forced two corners in the first three minutes, with Charlton having to concede the first with a headed block to Causio's shot. Then the centre-half was hampered by the pools of water as Anastasi burst through Madeley's attempted tackle, but the striker's resulting shot lacked power.

Lorimer responded for Leeds by letting fly from 35 yards; it was obvious that even the most speculative of efforts had a chance with the conditions making it a nightmare for the two keepers. Clean handling wasThe two benches look on in the downpour during the abandoned first leg of the 1971 Fairs Cup final in Turin a distinct challenge, but Gary Sprake quietened growing mutterings regarding his form with a succession of fine saves, first at Capello's feet and then fielding safely after diving to Causio's deflected effort.

After 20 minutes it became clear that Eddie Gray could not continue. A shoulder injury that kept him out of the previous week's Scotland game had been aggravated. He was forced to leave the field with his arm in a sling. Terry Yorath came on to slot into the midfield role he had filled for Wales in that same series of home internationals.

Juventus knew attack was obligatory for them and they continued to do much of the pressing. From one of their assaults, after 22 minutes, they nearly opened the scoring when Anastasi's shot struck Madeley and was nearly deflected into the net. Sprake parried it and when Anastasi got to the loose ball he could only crash it against a post with the goal gaping.

Back came Leeds for Giles to manufacture enough room to fire in an effort from fully 30 yards. The crossbar denied what would have been a tremendous goal in the final dangerous movement of the first period.

The players came out for the second half in fresh new strips, ready to resume battle, but it was clear that playing on would lead to farcical scenes. Within six minutes Dutch referee Laurens van Ravens held an impromptu conference with his linesman and declared the match abandoned, to the relief of most reasonable people.

It was clearly the correct decision, and Juve danced with glee, but Bremner protested angrily. United were halfway to the draw that they sought and understandably disappointed at having to start again.

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With heavy rain continuing over the next couple of days, there were rumours that both legs might be staged at Elland Road. Don Revie accepted the unfairness of such an approach: "We don't want any more rain. If we are going to win the cup, let's win it right. If the two legs are in Leeds everyone will say we should be the winners and after what we have gone through it's fair to say we don't do things the easy way, do we? We have worked all season to get there so it was not fair for the final to be contested in such conditions, irrespective of who might win the trophy."

There was another thunderstorm on the Thursday afternoon, but Friday was blessed with bright sunshine and the restaged game was able to kick off that evening as planned.

With Eddie Gray out of contention, Revie brought Paul Reaney back into the side for his first start since the home defeat to West Bromwich Albion on 17 April and switched Paul Madeley to No 11. Juventus selected the same eleven as in the first game.

There was two minutes' silence before kick off to commemorate the passing of Picchi.

When play finally commenced, Juventus were straight into their stride and pressed United back. However, the pace was more sedate than in the first game, allowing Leeds to settle into their rhythm. Billy Bremner shakes hands with Juve captain Sandro Salvadore before the first leg of the Fairs Cup final in TurinAfter the initial burst, according to Paul Wilcox in the Guardian, "it was not unusual to see as many Leeds players around Piloni's goal as there were Juventus defenders."

Revie had promised that his team would go for goals, though most people expected United to take a defensive approach, with Madeley there to provide his customary insurance in front of the rearguard. However, the utility man was surprisingly ready to reinforce his forwards.

United paid a heavy price for their sense of adventure on this occasion. With 27 minutes of the game gone, after two Leeds attacks, Juventus opened the scoring. Cooper was off on one of his penetrative dribbles down the left flank when Haller won the ball from him on the halfway line. The German found Anastasi, who in turn flicked to Causio, who fired the ball goalwards. Bettega got on the blind side of Reaney to fire past Sprake, high into the net, with a shot that any goalkeeper in the world would have struggled to get to.

Five minutes later, Clarke was booked, to the derision of the home supporters, after kicking Morini in the Juve penalty area. It looked like retaliation against some hard buffeting by the Italian international.

Juve came close to taking a 2-0 lead when Anastasi and Charlton raced side by side after a forward pass. The Italian outpaced the defender and Charlton lunged into a desperate challenge, which Anastasi did well to ride. However, he rushed his shot and it flew well wide of the target.

Just before the interval Jones might have equalised when he shot first time from close range but goalkeeper Piloni smothered the effort.

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That was the final opportunity of the half and Leeds went in at the break disappointed to be behind. They had shown enough to offer hope that they could take something from the game, and within three minutes of the restart they were back on terms.

Lorimer battled for the ball on the left and secured to feed Madeley, 25 yards out. Morini was slow as he moved to confront the Leeds man. It would have been all too predictable for Madeley to be content merely to maintain possession but instead he made his way forward to the edge of the area and chanced his arm, letting fly at goal. It wasn't the most powerful of shots but seemed to take a deflection off Salvadore before beating the aghast Piloni to bring United level.

Paul Madeley (out of picture) scores in Turin in the first leg of the Fairs Cup final

Paul Madeley: "My goal was a long range speculative daisy cutter. I hit it quite well, but it just clipped a defender some distance from me, which wrongfooted the keeper completely."

The goal heartened the Leeds players but they were not level for long. After 55 minutes the Italians took a 2-1 lead when Capello fired a wonderful drive from the edge of the box into the top corner after Spinosi had fought fiercely for possession on the left. Bettega could not master the bouncing ball, but Capello made no mistake. That was the signal for Juve to show some of their best short passing moves as they took control.

If Juventus expected Leeds to fade, they were sadly mistaken as the Yorkshiremen rallied bravely, "like a relentless tide," according to Geoffrey Green in the Times.

Shortly before the goal, Anastasi had made a glaring miss, ballooning the ball over the bar from 10 yards after Marchetti had found him unmarked. The striker had wasted a number of opportunities and was starting to get the bird from the home supporters before he was replaced by Novellini in the 72nd minute. At the same time Revie took the opportunity to bring on Bates for Jones, allowing Bremner to push forward into attack. For once, though, it was not the Scot who got the goal, but the substitute, within four minutes of entering the fray.

Juventus appealed in vain for a penalty when Bettega was brought down in the area, and Leeds took the opportunity for a swift counter attack. Giles centred from the left and the cross was pushed away rather than being collected by the outrushing Piloni. Bates came out of nowhere to collect the ball and connect beautifully almost in the same movement to hammer it home. It Mick Bates nets a vital equaliser in Turinwas only Bates' second touch of the game and Furino, standing on the line, could only help the ball on into the roof of the net.

It was the finest moment of Bates' career, and no one was more surprised than the midfielder: "It was only my second goal for the club. When I got the ball I just hit it and hoped for the best. It was a tremendous feeling when I saw it go in."

Minutes later, things might have got even better for Leeds. There were concerted appeals from the entire United party when it looked like Spinosi had handled the ball in his area under pressure from Lorimer, but the referee waved play on.

However, there were no further goals and at the end Leeds were more than satisfied with the 2-2 scoreline. With away goals counting double in the event of a draw and the second leg to come at Elland Road a week later, they had put themselves in pole position to regain a trophy they had won three years before.

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It was a magnificent display by United, a classic away performance in Europe. It was also the first time they had managed a goal in any of their trips to Italy.

Paul Wilcox in the Guardian: "Leeds continued their run of scoring in all nine of their away European ties over the past two years. The disappointed partisan crowd of 45,000 was nevertheless appreciative of Leeds' skill, giving them a round of applause as they lined up to wave farewell. There can be no doubt that Leeds deserved their ovation. Their performance was one of courage, resourcefulness, and determination in a display of athletic maturity which was at times up to world standards. They were twice behind but their grim and relentless dedication to the task of containing Juventus' lively forwards gave them a springboard from which to launch impressive counter attacks.

"Leeds had a magnificent commander in Bremner, who urged his colleagues to shrug off the cares of being in arrears, and engineered Leeds' survival by his command in midfield. Giles, too, played a prominent part in Leeds' fight, but it would be unfair to single out any player for mention above others. The display was one of cool and cultured teamwork, with Cooper joining Lorimer in attacks down the flanks, Charlton, Reaney and Hunter dominating the area in front of Sprake and Clarke and Jones bearing the tremendous weight of trying to find a pass through the strong Italian defensive wall.

"For all Juventus' skill, they must now consider that their chance of winning on aggregate is a slim one. They have brilliance in midfield with Causio and Capello capable of finding space and time in which to work to send precise through passes to the speedy Bettega and Anastasi. Tonight, however, Anastasi was controlled by the attentions of Charlton and Hunter, and was substituted by Novellini after his greed had spoiled chances for better placed team mates. Haller, in fact, was Juventus' main inspiration of their attacks, belying his years with agility and style."

Geoffrey Green in the Times: "It was a Mick Jones and Paul Madeley pressurise goalkeeper Piloni and defender Salvadore during the first legpraiseworthy effort by Leeds. They finished the stronger and tactically the wiser, while their machine like teamwork and discipline, plus their economy of effort, clearly matched the flashes of refined skill of the Italians. There was the long game against the subtle close work of Juventus, all of it a refreshing contrast between the British and Latin styles. Most of it was stimulating as both sides played each other with a stout heart. Perhaps at times Juventus held some advantages in secrecy of footwork and speed, but none of it could dislodge Leeds, who refused to be hurried, knowing that haste goes only with folly. The man above all who kept his men's nose to the grindstone was Giles, the complete midfield general, as he surveyed the whole canvas, choosing the right colours to use at the right moments for the right situation. And close to his elbow as an ally in midfield was Bremner to support and inspire the whole effort. Between them they got a fine response from their colleagues, until finally they stamped all the skill out of emotional artists like Causio, Anastasi, Haller and the hard working Furino, in midfield."

Don Revie: "I am very proud of the lads. They controlled the game and gave a world class display, twice coming back from a goal down."

Juventus coach Vycpalek acknowledged the result as a fair one - "Neither side deserved to lose, but we shall go to Leeds hoping for the best."

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