7 March 1973 - Leeds United 5 Rapid Bucharest 0
|European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final first leg - Elland Road - 25,702|
|Scorers: Giles (15 mins), Clarke (28), Lorimer 2 (35, 56), Jordan (65)|
|Leeds United: Harvey, Reaney, Cherry, Bremner, McQueen (Yorath 83), Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jordan, Giles, Madeley|
|Rapid Bucharest: Raducanu, Pop, Grigorias, Codrea, Stelian, Musat, Nasturescu (Dinai 73), Savu, Neagu, Florin, Dumitru|
Leeds United's first attempt to win the European Cup Winners' Cup had not been the easy stroll to glory that many critics had predicted.
Given the scintillating football the team displayed in the spring of 1972 and the club's outstanding level of experience in Europe, it was easy to understand the expectation that United would go a long way in the competition.
On paper that seemed a safe prediction; on grass, the matter was less clear cut.
A first round pairing against MKE Ankaragucu of Turkey seemed a formality, despite the long trip for the first leg in the Turkish capital; it was the furthest United had needed to travel in eight seasons of European competition. The game represented the Turks' European debut, whereas it was United's 65th match in such tournaments.
Despite receiving a warm welcome from generous hosts, United had to be content with a 1-1 draw from the first leg before scraping through by virtue of Mick Jones' goal at Elland Road.
The pattern was repeated in the second round, against the East Germans, Carl Zeiss Jena. A goalless draw in the first leg in the Ernst Abbe stadium was a reasonable opening gambit, but it was the second half of the second leg before Trevor Cherry's powerful strike broke the deadlock at Elland Road. A second came a Mick Jones header as he followed up when a Peter Lorimer strike came back off the goalkeeper in the 64th minute; that provided some degree of comfort and Don Revie pronounced himself 'delighted' with the 2-0 victory against a side he clearly rated.
Nevertheless, this was a series of tepid performances for a side of United's standing and experience.
The win at the beginning of November against Jena put United through to the last eight, with the quarter-finals to be staged four months later. Their opponents were the Rumanians, Rapid Bucharest, and Revie was a little uneasy at not being able to consult the normal in depth dossier on his opponents.
Assistant manager Maurice Lindley and chief coach Syd Owen had been unable to watch Rapid play and Revie was therefore denied their customary detailed briefing. The mid-winter break in Rumania coupled with an air strike had frustrated intentions in that direction and Revie had to rely instead on a discussion with Bill Nicholson, manager of Spurs, who had beaten Rapid in the previous season's UEFA Cup.
Tottenham beat Rapid 5-0 on aggregate, but Nicholson described them as one of the toughest teams his side had faced. The Spurs boss passed Revie his own file, claiming that if all European teams were as rough as the Rumanians, he would prefer Tottenham to remain out of continental competition.
Revie commented: 'We must respect them, because they have reached the quarter finals … Our plan is to attack right from the start and gain a two-goal advantage for the return leg. We don't know much about the Rumanians, except that they are supposed to be a very physical side.'
Another feature emphasised in press previews of the game was the colourful nature of Rapid's towering goalkeeper, Necula Raducanu. In the Evening Post, Don Warters said of him 'flashy … loves to entertain crowds with his tricks … thinks nothing of leaving his goal to go up for corner kicks and frequently dribbles the ball in his own penalty area.' The Spurs dossier described him as 'acrobatic and a crowd player, very flashy and cocky'.
Raducanu won 61 caps for Rumania and appeared at the 1970 World Cup finals, where he became the first keeper to come on as substitute in a World Cup match, replacing Stere Adamache against Brazil. He is also the first Rumanian keeper to score in an official match and the first to be caught offside. He was to score seven times for Rapid over the following two seasons.
The papers gleefully played up the story of a juggling giant jester who would doubtless swing from his crossbar if asked nicely!
Before the match Rapid announced they would be playing in an all-white strip, prompting a colour clash. It was a similar situation to October 1966 when Standard Liege insisted on wearing white when they played at Elland Road in the Fairs Cup.
On this occasion, United general manager Keith Archer managed to settle the matter amicably over a pint of beer, saying later: 'Apparently the confusion arose because in the Rumanian League the home side has to change should there be a clash of colours. But when we pointed out that the UEFA ruling stated visiting teams should change, they immediately agreed to switch to a red strip. There were no harsh words, and everything was done amicably. We shall change to our yellow strip for the second leg match.'
United's only change from their weekend victory against Derby was Joe Jordan in for Mick Jones. Young Gordon McQueen swapped numbers with Paul Madeley, the latter taking the No 11 shirt rather than the 5 he had worn at the Baseball Ground, though McQueen played at the back in both games.
The match was every bit as physical as Don Revie had feared. Eric Todd in The Guardian: 'Rightly or wrongly, most of us have come to expect what are known euphemistically as "physical performances" from foreign footballing sides, and Rapid's was no exception. Almost from the start Stelian and Codrea decided that they did not like Bremner, and Florin obviously had been deputed to attend to Clarke. There was a time when Bremner would have retaliated and even last night he gave the impression that he regretted signing the pledge of non-violence. Clarke, too, took a lot of stick without complaint and I suspect that he allowed himself a satisfied grin when Florin brought him down with a cruel tackle early in the second half and was booked. Surprisingly this was the only booking.
'Rapid's exhibition deserved little more mention than it has received already. All that need be said in favour is that before the end they realised that crime does not pay and they allowed Leeds to play football, when previously they had destroyed it. Apart from the magnificent Raducanu, there was a steady display by Grigorias and one or two brave runs by Dumitru, who had the distinction of bringing Harvey to his only save. Leeds from start to finish deserved every credit possible for their victory and the manner of its achievement.
'Jordan, deputising for Jones, who has a stomach complaint, led the Leeds attack with the utmost enthusiasm, but Clarke again took the major honour. Once or twice he ventured into enemy territory with the righteous suspicion of a man entering a booby trapped area and it was a miracle that he survived. Only a really great player could have escaped some of those lunging tackles; only a great man could have kept calm.
'There were other outstanding performances, notably by Bremner and Hunter - who did not commit one foul, but let it be added this was a team effort. And if ever there was a case of Virtue triumphant, then this surely was it. In addition to McQueen, Clarke, Lorimer and Jordan will all need treatment before the weekend, but they will carry their scars proudly.'
Don Warters in the Evening Post: 'After eight years of European football, Leeds United are battle-hardened, but rarely can they have been subjected to such crude softening up tactics as those employed by the Rumanians of Rapid Bucharest.
'Good, it is said, triumphs over bad, and on this occasion, United's skill, thank goodness, was more than sufficient to overcome ruggedness in the extreme.
'In the opening minutes it became obvious United were in for a rough ride. Billy Bremner was felled by Codrea and Peter Lorimer suffered a similar fate at the hands, or rather feet, of Stelian. These were offences which the referee stamped on but numerous other offences were committed off the ball by defenders seemingly intent on provoking United in general and Allan Clarke, Lorimer and Joe Jordan in particular.
'Nudges, kicks, taps - you name it, the Rumanians were doing it - and the crowd of 25,702 were not slow to show their dislike by bouts of slow handclapping.
'Jack Charlton, a veteran of over 50 European matches for Leeds, watched it all patiently from the stand. Afterwards he said: "It was hard out there. I think they were hoping to put us out of our stride with such close marking, but their tactics failed."
'The Rumanians had obviously heard about Clarke's scoring prowess, and almost throughout the match either Florin or Grigoras literally leaned on him.'
Norman Fox in The Times: 'For Leeds United, a journey to Romania in a fortnight's time will bring risks to their bones but not their reputation or future in the European Cup Winners' Cup. Last night at Elland Road, in a first leg quarter final tie, they suffered a rare physical battering even by their standards. Rapid came with aggressive defence in mind. Leeds ensured that they left looking tactically foolish.
'As a spectacle of international misunderstanding, this ranked high. Bill Nicholson, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, had warned that Rapid were rugged. He understated the case, and did not take into account the fact that Leeds are a far more rigorous team than his own. The combination of Rapid's ruthless approach and the usual severity of the Leeds tackling mixed into acid.
'Before condemning Rapid for some of the most destructive football I have seen in England, it must be said that Leeds refused to tone down their customary hard approach and this was bound to provoke some bad feeling. Tackling from behind is still the red rag to any Continental bull. Leeds waved that rag provocatively at times.
'It was only Rapid's tactical ugliness that saved them from an even worse defeat. Their defensive intentions were destroyed like sandcastles before Atlantic rollers. Within ten minutes they received a slow handclap for their lack of ambition; within 45 they were three goals down and out of their depth.'
Mike Casey in the Evening Post: 'I don't know what Mr W J Drennan, secretary of the Irish FA, the official observer at the match, thought of the visitors' tactics, which made a mockery of soccer, but I have seen dozens of European teams and none match Rapid in their blatant disregard for the rules. Kicking, elbowing, shirt tugging, hacking, even bear hugs … all were used by a team vastly inferior to their opponents in skill.
'Unfortunately the tolerant Czech referee, Mr B Smejkal, restricted punishment to occasional free kicks and a caution - Rapid defender Florin eventually being cautioned after his umpteenth foul on Clarke. The Czech linesman also appeared to ignore the niggling off the ball fouls which must have encouraged Rapid to continue with the rough stuff.
'Happily for United, the match officials will be changed, as is the practice for the second leg. I hope the Swedish replacements are more efficient. If not, I fear for United's players.'
Rapid's skulduggery failed to unsettle United and the fillip of a 15-minute goal ensured that any Elland Road anxieties did not have time to build up.
Johnny Giles had already blasted one shot over from 22 yards before he opened the scoring with another long range effort. Goalkeeper Raducanu came out to punch away a long free kick from Norman Hunter and seemed content with his efforts, for he made only token attempts to regain either footing or position. The ball fell out to Giles 25 yards from goal and the Irishman, 'tired of the attempts at prising Rapid from their shell' (according to Norman Fox), coolly chipped the ball back over the keeper's head. Raducanu got his fingers to the effort but could not keep it out.
It was more than ten minutes before United could pierce the visitors again, and just as the crowd were getting a little edgy, it was master goalscorer Allan Clarke who put any fears to bed after a magnificent move.
It began with Norman Hunter, deep in his own half, feeding Giles. The Irishman flighted the ball forward to Joe Jordan, who deftly headed on, allowing Clarke space to gather. For once there wasn't a Rumanian tight enough to get in a challenge and Clarke ran on to leave the keeper helpless with a beautiful drive.
In the 35th minute, it was 3-0; Clarke deceived the defence with a beautifully directed header, Lorimer raced onto it and hammered an unstoppable shot past Raducanu and into the far corner of the net from ten yards out. As Terry Brindle wrote in the Yorkshire Post, 'Standing so close in the flight path of so much power, Raducanu's life must have flashed before his eyes.'
To all intents, the goal killed off the game as a contest. Don Revie had more than the two-goal lead he had sought, but United were not yet content and continued their good work after the resumption.
In the fifty-sixth minute United made it 4-0. Lorimer was 25 yards out and saw Raducanu again failing to cover his goal. His tremendous shot into the far corner left the keeper prostrate on the turf, wondering where it had all gone wrong. We never had a chance to witness one of his characteristic attacking forays.
After 65 minutes Jordan was rewarded for an evening of effort when he banged in United's fifth. Madeley sent Clarke away and he teased and tantalised the weary Rapid defence over a 25 yard run with some skilful control and footwork before tapping on to Jordan, who joyfully lashed the ball home.
McQueen, who had enjoyed a fine home debut, was led off with an ankle injury seven minutes from the end. Eric Todd: 'He was given an ovation and well he deserved it. He shirked nothing, he feared nobody and his determined run stamped him as a player of really great potential. I feared at Derby he might be a little over zealous in his tackling, but on this occasion he gave an all-round performance with which no fault could be found.'
The Rumanians' trainer, Basil Marian, said: 'Leeds were too strong for us. They practice modern football at its best. They were really in superlative form, and I fear the return in Bucharest is merely a formality.'
Basil Gravu, head of the Rapid party, added: 'We have played all over the world, and even against Brazilian teams, but we have never met a team as good as Leeds, and as professional.'
Don Revie refused to comment on Rapid's tactics, except to say that he believed his team's vast experience in Europe had helped them through and to appeal for strong officials to be put in charge of the second leg on March 21.
'I just hope we get a strong referee in Bucharest,' he said. 'I thought our players kept their heads very well under provocation, but they could do this only through the experience they have gained in 69 matches in Europe … This must rank as one of our best performances in Europe.'
United completed the job a fortnight later in the second leg with an easy 3-1 victory.