United came into their Capital One Cup-tie against Premier League
Everton at the end of September 2012 on the back of an average
start to the season. After three wins from their opening seven
Championship fixtures, they sat eleventh in the table.
In sharp contrast, the Goodison Park side were in outstanding
form, lying second to Chelsea after five games, the last of which
saw them hammer Swansea City 3-0.
Albeit against vastly inferior opposition, Leeds had already
scored seven goals without reply in the competition, beating Shrewsbury
4-0 in the first round then netting three against Oxford in the
Their mood was also lifted by their success against Nottingham
Forest, the 2-1 victory trumpeted in the Mail as "their most impressive
win of the season." Forest had been the only unbeaten side left
in the Championship.
The game had been watched by four representatives from potential
investors GFH Capital, whom manager Neil Warnock hoped would provide
the necessary funding to spark a promotion push.
Chairman Ken Bates: "We are well advanced with our discussions.
There's a number of technical points to be resolved, some of the
delays have been because of summer holidays. But we're making
progress, we had a very positive meeting yesterday and the potential
investors are looking now to get this matter concluded as soon
"Both parties regret that because of a lot of factors beyond
our control we missed the August window, but we are already planning
for the January transfer window. We had four of the top executives
from the institution [here], we had one bit of bad luck because
the chairman was coming here to meet me to resolve things chairman
to chairman but unfortunately he had to pull out at the last minute
for personal reasons. We're both disappointed but we're planning
to get together as soon as possible when his personal situation
had been resolved."
"It's encouraging," said Warnock when asked about Bates' remarks,
"but I don't hold my breath when I hear these announcements. It's
best for me to wait until everything's concluded because it's
only then that we can expect things to change. But it's a positive
step and that's what we want.
"I hope the people who are investing watched the game closely
because what's not to like about that? We don't have many boring
games and our performance was great. We showed no weakness as
a team and it was a day when Leeds United Football Club showed
what it can be. I'm talking about everything and everybody.
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"I can understand why people would want to get involved and I
wish I'd been here 10
years ago. It's almost a pity that I've come at this stage of
my career rather than with a good few years ahead of me.
"We had no man of the match because it was a fabulous team performance.
Every one of them worked their socks off. I was proud of them,
especially when you consider that Forest had players worth about
four or five million quid on the bench.
"It was an exciting game and you just couldn't take your eyes
away from it for a second.
"We've played some tough games so far and done well with the
thin squad we've got."
Warnock was less enamoured with the negativity emanating from
"I read one of the local papers, they asked 10 Leeds fans and
only two thought we'd win," he said. "One thought we'd lose by
six. I have never read so much rubbish with my egg and bacon and
I'd like to thank all those miserable Yorkshiremen for spurring
Warnock was all smiles after the game, even as he reflected on
ankle problems suffered by Lee Peltier and Jason Pearce, a groin
strain affecting Paddy Kenny and a knee injury to Adam Drury.
They joined a casualty list that already included Ross McCormack,
David Norris and Paul Green, who would all miss the Everton tie.
Pearce made it into the starting eleven, Jamie Ashdown deputised
in goal and Michael Brown, Aidy White and the transfer-listed
Danny Pugh all returned to the side.
"Somebody said to me 'what do you think about Tuesday?'" said
Warnock. "Tuesday? Let's worry about that when we get there. Let's
enjoy this win first."
Warnock knew better than most how the form book could be upset
in Cup football; ten seasons earlier his Sheffield United side
claimed a host of Premiership scalps en route to reaching the
semi-finals of both the League and FA Cups in 2003.
"If you were a betting man," said the United manager, "you would
put your money on Everton. Even if they make a couple of changes,
they will still be strong. I would imagine Everton would be very,
very high on the list of potential favourites for this competition.
Teams like them and Newcastle have a great chance of winning it
this year. But, equally, in the Cup upsets do happen and I believe
we can give most teams a run for their money.
"We showed on Saturday against Forest that if you have the right
attitude and good players then anything can happen. There are
upsets all the time."
Warnock continued, "We are a little bit like the Everton of the
Championship," before revealing that he had tried to sign Nikica
Jelavic from Rangers when in charge of Queens Park Rangers. His
sacking by the Loftus Road club allowed the
Merseysiders to nip in and secure the striker's signature.
"They are a hard-working group of players and a club whose first
XI would give anyone a game. Just like Everton's. But maybe where
we lose four or five players and can't cope, they are a little
bit more geared up this season with a stronger squad than for
a few years.
"I spoke to David (Moyes) early doors because I was after one
of their players at the time. I said, 'It is a fabulous tie'.
I wasn't surprised it was picked for television. The atmosphere
at Elland Road and the players they have got now augurs well.
There will be bags of excitement.
"Everton are quite capable of inflicting a heavy defeat on us.
But, at the same time, we are quite capable of beating them. I
can't see it being a dull game."
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On the chances of Leeds causing an upset, Warnock commented:
"I am not being disrespectful but I think you'd fancy it more
against one of the glamour clubs. They wouldn't want to be here.
Whereas the Everton lads, they could play for Leeds United and
it wouldn't worry them. Every one of them wouldn't see the Championship
as beneath them. That makes it more difficult for us than it would
against some Premier League clubs."
For inspiration, United could do no better than considering the
run Warnock's Sheffield United side had in the League Cup a decade
earlier. After beating then Premier League Leeds in dramatic fashion,
courtesy of two stoppage time goals from Phil Jagielka and Peter
Ndlovu, the Blades went on to knock out Sunderland and Crystal
Palace before beating Liverpool in a semi-final first leg tie
at Bramall Lane. The Reds put Sheffield out by winning the second
leg 2-0 at Anfield.
The Blades were ousted in the FA Cup by Arsenal in the last four
but only after beating Terry Venables' Leeds for a second time
at Bramall Lane.
Warnock said: "To beat Premier League teams like we did at Sheffield
United that year,
you need a bit of luck. You also need to be ready for it and you
need to take your chances when they come along. They are the ingredients.
"Cup runs can bring momentum. There is always a team that comes
from nowhere to do well. Cardiff did it last year (to reach the
final, where they lost on penalties to Liverpool). The draw was
"Some good teams will be going out this round as well."
Everton manager David Moyes kept a low profile ahead of the game,
leaving assistant manager Steve Round to speak to the press. "I
know the manager is very serious about the competition and you
saw that with the performance and the team he picked in the last
round. We want to do well in it as Everton should be up there
winning trophies. The manager won't be taking this game lightly
and you'll see that with his team selection. He wants to win trophies
for this club - that is our history and tradition. This is another
opportunity to do that and it is a good opportunity. It also provides
another route into Europe."
The side selected by Moyes showed six changes. Victor Anichebe,
Seamus Coleman, Marouane Fellaini, Johnny Heitinga and Kevin Mirallas
all started in a team that included Slovakian international keeper
Jan Mucha, alongside debutant Francisco Junior, a 20-year-old
from Guinea-Bissau, and Scotland international Steven Naismith
in midfield. Another debutant, the Costa Rican Bryan Oviedo, was
at left-back in a side that included not a single Englishman for
the first time in the club's history.
The tie was staged on a wet and stormy night in the West Riding
and the driving rain ensured that there were thousands of empty
seats in the stands when the game kicked off at 7.45. Nevertheless
the players were greeted by the customary wall of sound from the
United supporters as they came onto a pitch looking perfect under
the Elland Road floodlights.
Warnock sent his team out well fired up for the contest. They
were on the front
foot from the whistle and took the lead within four minutes.
Everton, looking to play their normal game, sought to bring the
ball forward constructively as they came out of defence. But after
right-back Coleman fed Naismith in midfield, the Scotland international's
short pass inside to Junior was badly misplaced, behind him, and
allowed Rudy Austin to break up the play with a muscular challenge.
Aidy White latched on to the loose ball and surged through the
heart of the Everton defence, brushing off a flimsy challenge
from Fellaini as he did so. Reaching the edge of the 18-yard box,
White eased the ball onto his favoured left foot as centre-backs
Heitinga and Distin converged on him and coolly curled an exquisite
strike to Mucha's right. The ball sent the raindrops flying into
the night sky as it bulged the roof of the net with the goalkeeper
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It was the 20-year-old's first goal in 74 games for United and
he could not have asked for a more perfect way to break his duck.
He said later: "It's amazing to finally get it after all these
years of waiting. I've been dreaming of finally scoring for Leeds
and it has come true and I couldn't think of a better way to do
it than against a really good team.
"It's about time I scored, it's only four years since I made
"I was pleased with the goal, I took it early, and it caught
the keeper out. Maybe they weren't expecting it and it came out
of the blue. I think I do have that in my locker and hopefully
I can get more goals for the club.
"Our confidence shot up, it was a boost, and it put them on the
It certainly did, for United enjoyed the better of things for
much of the first period. Everton had their moments but the difference
in status between the two clubs was made to appear marginal.
Even before White's opener, Leeds had looked dangerous. The free
kicks they drew from Everton afforded them the luxury of being
able to pepper the area with high balls. Luciano Becchio had got
the better of Fellaini though his nod down to El Hadji Diouf had
been poor. In the seventh minute, Austin was fouled by Fellaini,
but the same player cleared when Diouf sent in the free kick.
When Fellaini gave away another free kick for a foul on Sam
Byram. Jason Pearce headed Diouf's dead ball wide of the right
It was the tenth minute before Everton launched their first move
of any note, Naismith playing a low ball through the centre for
Anichebe to chase; the Nigerian's first touch was poor and allowed
Tom Lees to dispossess him with a good tackle in the penalty area.
Then Jamie Ashdown was panicked into a hacked clearance from
a dangerous pass back and breathed a sigh of relief as the ball
cannoned off Anichebe and out for a goal kick.
When United were awarded a free kick out on the left flank, everyone
expected a high ball into the mix. But Michael Tonge's driven
curler flashed across goal and out beyond the far post as United
threatened to expose the Premier League side again.
A couple of minutes later, a surging run down the left from Oviedo
gave Anichebe a sight at goal but his studiously sidefooted effort
from the D slipped narrowly over Ashdown's crossbar when he should
have done better given the space he was in.
In the 38th minute, some neat touch and move play by United on
the right saw Becchio and Diouf combine to give White an opportunity
in the middle but his strike under pressure lacked power and was
comfortably gathered by Mucha.
As the interval beckoned, Jason Pearce, United skipper for the
evening in the place of Lee Peltier, emerged from a clash of heads
with Naismith with a nasty cut and a black eye. He played out
the game with his head enveloped by a large white bandage, his
cheek coated in Vaseline in classic 'They shall not pass' style.
Pearce, playing the game of his life, required eight stitches
at half time to continue.
United nearly doubled their advantage in the closing moments
of the half after a short corner move by Diouf on the right. The
Senegalese international looped a hanging cross from the byline
towards the six-yard line for Becchio to beat Seamus Coleman.
His powerful downwards header looked on its way in but keeper
Mucha produced a reflex parry to block and Naismith hoofed clear
as the spinning ball threatened to find the net.
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David Moyes recognised his decision to go with an unproven eleven
was backfiring badly. He rang the changes at the interval, sending
out his experienced big guns, Phil Neville and Steven Pienaar,
for Junior and Gueye in an attempt to change the course of the
game. It brought new vigour to Everton's attacks and Pienaar should
have done better when he lashed wildly at a free ball after Naismith's
surging run into the box was blocked by a United defender.
But the home side continued to create opportunities. Gaining
possession after a United clearance downfield, Tonge ran through
a yawning gap on the left and into the Everton penalty area as
defenders backed away. The midfielder curled a right footed effort
narrowly wide of the post when he looked to have done all the
On the hour mark, Naismith was unmarked at the far post when
Anichebe's cross came over from the left but headed badly wide
from four yards out. It was a poor effort with the goal at his
Then Anichebe, with Tom Lees touch tight at his back deep inside
the United area,
turned the defender smartly but his shot flashed across goal and
out for a goal kick.
After 61 minutes Michael Brown received the first caution of
the night for a foul on Pienaar.
Nikica Jelavic was sent on for Naismith in the 65th minute as
David Moyes looked to ratchet up the pressure on the United goal,
but the change temporarily stayed the momentum that Everton had
been building. Moyes' fears that this was not his men's night
were amplified after 69 minutes when United made it 2-0.
The Whites were awarded a free kick by referee Lee Mason when
Rudy Austin was fouled out on the left byline after turning Coleman.
Diouf rolled the ball out to the edge of the area for Danny Pugh
to send in an uncertain goalbound shot. It bobbled through a crowd
of players before Austin flicked out his right foot to divert
it past keeper and defenders into the net. Cue more celebratory
scenes as United scented victory.
But they were not yet home; after 71 minutes, Fellaini took a
Pienaar pass in his stride and moved on to fire in a stinging
low drive from 30 yards. Ashdown got down well to parry the shot
away and Pearce completed the clearance.
After Oviedo was booked after 73 minutes for a foul on White,
Lees blocked away a shot from Anichebe to concede a corner. Byram
managed to clear Mirallas' inswinging flag kick from the left.
In the 78th minute, Heitinga became the second Everton man to
go into Lee Mason's book for a foul on Diouf, clearly enjoying
himself as he irritated the Everton defence.
With nine minutes remaining, the visitors seized a lifeline:
on a long range free kick from Pienaar and Sylvain Distin got
up above Pearce on the six-yard line to nod the ball over Ashdown
and just under the bar.
Moments later Jelavic tested Ashdown with a header from six yards
and after 84 minutes there were fierce penalty appeals after Lees
appeared to block a Fellaini shot with his hand; television replays
suggested it was his chest that got in the way. After cutting
his eye in a clash of heads with Anichebe a minute later, Lees
was the second Leeds man left sporting a bandage.
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It was all Everton now as they pressed for a goal but United
reacted manfully, throwing their bodies on the line to preserve
their hard won advantage.
There was a scuffle in the United box with Jelavic and Anichebe
in the thick of it after Pearce cleared when Fellaini was penalised
for handball. Pearce and Fellaini were cautioned, then Ashdown
dawdled over the free kick before booting the ball the length
of the field.
In the fifth minute of injury time White clattered Oviedo, giving
Everton a free kick from the same spot as brought their equaliser.
When the ball was lumped aimlessly into the penalty area this
time Ashdown collected in relief.
In the closing seconds Anichebe pleaded desperately for a penalty
when Pearce climbed all over him as the two battled to meet a
cross into the area. Lee Mason was unmoved and almost instantaneously
sounded the final whistle to end Everton's desperate hunt for
David Moyes could not hide his disappointment after the game.
"We never really
got started," he said. "We gave away a terrible goal in the opening
minutes which gave Leeds a lot of momentum and a lot of belief."
Moyes refused to accept that his decision to rest six players
had backfired. "When you have a squad of players you have to give
them game time and play them," he added. "If you don't there is
no point in calling them a squad, they are just first team players
and reserve team players.
"We have given a few a go and maybe they didn't show up like
we would have wanted them to. But it was right that we gave it
a go. The result was wrong, but you couldn't have said those players
weren't good enough to go out and get a result.
"We started terribly, conceded a really poor goal and gave Leeds
the initiative. We lost the game in the opening 20 minutes and
I'm very disappointed. The boys who came in are members of the
squad and have to show they are up to it. Otherwise, what is the
point of having them?
"I have learned a lot tonight. This is a big place to come to
and play and while some did OK, some didn't."
Richard Sutcliffe in the Yorkshire Post: "Will the real
Leeds United please stand up?
"A week on from a demoralising derby defeat to Hull City that
left many supporters writing off their side's chances of success
even though the season was just six games old, United last night
pulled off a shock to dump in form Everton out of the Capital
"Goals from Aidy White and Rodolph Austin either side of half
time may have been the undoing of a team who sit third in the
Premier League. But, in truth, every single member of Neil Warnock's
heroes in white deserve credit for the manner of their performance
on a night
to remember at Elland Road.
"No tackle was shirked, no quarter given, and when Leeds had
the ball at their feet there was sufficient polish to ensure that
Everton rarely looked like claiming the victory that the bookmakers
had suggested ahead of kick off was little more than a foregone
conclusion. Even when Sylvain Distin pulled a goal back for the
visitors with nine minutes remaining, Leeds merely redoubled their
efforts to see the game out.
"It was, in every way, a stunning team display and one that made
a mockery of the struggles Leeds had experienced in losing 3-2
to Hull just a week earlier."
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Phil Hay in the Evening Post: "The way it is going, Neil
Warnock might just fall in love with this competition. Rarely
can a result have surprised him as much as last night's victory
over Everton did, on an evening when Leeds United were primed
for summary elimination.
"There was no chance of an upset at Elland Road, apparently;
no chance at all while United's treatment room resembled an A&E
ward with no empty beds. Everton's manager, David Moyes, felt
confident enough to field a weakened team through choice but regretted
that decision as soon as Aidan White scored a majestic goal in
the fourth minute. An improbable result was born there and then,
inspired by an unlikely goalscorer and sealed in the second half
by Rodolph Austin.
"In his long and distinguished managerial career, Warnock has
grown accustomed to premature exits from the League Cup, often
at the hands of opponents less stellar than Everton. There are
always other priorities and other ambitions to chase; League football
invariably matters more.
"The irony last night was that a defeat might have suited him
beforehand, so far removed is the tournament from his idea of
a successful season, but he looked quietly thrilled as Everton
bowed to a performance which would have done Leeds justice had
their line up been anything close to full strength. In the absence
of countless players, their 2-1 win was almost routine save only
the last nine minutes.
"United will draw in several hundred thousand pounds from last
night's third round tie, even though the attendance at Elland
Road fell a long way short of capacity, and that alone made the
"If that money and further cash promised from a fourth round
game funds the loan striker Warnock is anxious to sign then United's
cup run will have been worth its weight in gold.
"But the 63-year-old might yet see more value in the good two
in the space of four days have done for the mindset of Leeds as
"A week ago, Warnock was worried about a club who were suffering
the consequences of 'feeling sorry for ourselves'.
"The mood around Elland Road felt far less tender as Everton
fought to stay in a competition which Warnock tipped them to win.
"Not this year, despite Sylvain Distin's desperate header on
81 minutes and the onslaught which followed it.
"Moyes held a few cards in reserve - Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic,
Phil Jagielka - but not a soul inside the stadium believed he
would need them. This was one occasion when Warnock avoided accusations
of disrespecting or neglecting the League Cup, backed instead
into a tight corner by injury after injury.
"'We could probably have done without tonight,' he admitted before
kick off. And he meant it.
"Nothing said more about that than the appearance on the bench
of Paul Rachubka, included in a squad for the first time since
his club-defining implosion against Blackpool last November.
"Everton were weak by their own standards but strong by those
of an opposition line up which was marginally above half strength.
"Last night was no night for football - the rain which hammered
down throughout the day continued to fall from the first whistle
to the last - but it was an opportunity for two of the clubs best
served by Gary Speed to remember the late Welshman as the game
took on an unlikely shape.
"Speed was honoured with great affection by Leeds following his
death in November and a video montage of his career played out
on Elland Road's big screen before last night's match. An 11-minute
chant in Speed's memory began on schedule in the 11th minute as
it had during United's League game at Nottingham Forest two days
after he died.
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"Gone but not forgotten in this part of Yorkshire or Merseyside.
"It was the club who Speed left in 1996 who found more to savour
in the occasion of a
first meeting between Leeds and Everton for eight years.
"Leeds did to Moyes' team what they had done to Forest on Saturday:
squeezed their midfield and stuck tight to the players most likely
to hurt them. Fellaini became trapped behind the halfway line,
sweeping up as much possession as he could but wasted in the circumstances.
Moyes ventured into his technical area after 20 minutes but retreated
soon after having seen nothing to please him."
It had been a tactically smart performance on the part of Leeds
who relied on tremendous work rate to cancel out the difference
in class between the two sides, their players often doubling up
on the main threats, Fellaini and Anichebe.
When asked where the victory ranked in his career achievements,
Neil Warnock said: "That is probably the top cup night. This was
a top Everton side. To play like we did was tremendous.
"We scored two and could have had a few more. I thought we were
excellent... They wanted to win it - make no mistake - but I think
we deserved it on the night. I thought we were a little bit sharper,
we won the second balls and I think we should have scored one
or two other goals, so we're disappointed that we didn't, but
we never do anything easy.
"That's probably as good a result and performance as I've ever
had in the cup, because of the circumstances of us having injuries
and Everton being such a good side.
"Everyone's a bit surprised. Even our fans will be surprised.
But that's what football's about - surprising people. I'd be surprised
if any of the lads didn't watch it again when they got home.
"Everton really wanted to win the competition and that makes
the result even better for me. We deserved the win and everything
about the game was good.
"There wasn't a weakness in our team. If there had have been
a weakness then we'd have got beaten."
United were inspired by another influential performance from
El Hadji Diouf,
the controversial forward who had blossomed since joining Leeds
on a short-term deal in August, and Warnock could not speak highly
enough of the former Liverpool and Bolton forward.
"He has been a revelation," Warnock said. "He is fit and getting
fitter every game. Obviously I said things about him when I didn't
really know him but since he has been with us he has been a revelation.
He has been good with the young lads, good in the dressing room.
He has helped everybody. He makes me laugh and I make him laugh.
It is a happy relationship at the moment.
Diouf was contracted to United until January but Warnock allayed
concerns that the 31-year-old's form might encourage other clubs
to bid for him around the turn of the year, saying: "Diouf won't
go anywhere else. He's promised me certain things and I'm happy
with that. He's obviously not doing it for money because he's
one of our lowest-paid players but he's not going to get a stage
like this again. He's a matador and you need someone like that."
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The United boss continued, "It was great. I spoke to Eddie Gray
afterwards and he said it was like going back in time. It was
a great atmosphere, our fans were egging us on, it was tipping
it down, and it was a typical cup-tie. And all my lads gave me
everything so I have no complaints. It was a super result.
"We said we'd have to start well because we have some decent
players, and the goal gave us a lift, and the crowd as well. We
never let up after that. We carried on all the way through.
"They had 10 minutes at the start of the second half, which they
were always going to do, but I thought we rode that and came back
and created some good chances.
"There were so many plusses, look at the lads who haven't played
like Ashdown, Brown, and Pugh, I thought they were super. It was
a fabulous night for the Leeds fans as well.
"It was like going back in time, with the weather chucking it
down, the fans singing, the officials were great, everything was.
"There were a few bandages and blood, the two centre-halves both
had stitches, it was a proper cup-tie.
"Browny showed what he could do at his age and it was like going
back in time to when we were all at Sheffield... I was pleased
for Browny and Tongey, who had to do another role. He covered
the full-back and the winger and we called it the graveyard shift
when we were at Sheffield. He was super."
Casting his mind back ten years, Warnock recalled: "When we beat
Leeds at Sheffield, Leeds were weak on the night and it was a
great cup run.
"I think anyone left in this one can win it. You`ve got to have
a good night - a good night, a good draw and decent conditions."
performer was the battle-scarred Jason Pearce, who told Sky Sports
after the game: "I loved it. That is what we play football for,
to play against these sorts of players and these sorts of teams.
It was a great team performance."
The image of Pearce, head enveloped by bandage, as per Terry
Butcher of more than twenty years earlier, will be how this thrilling,
blood-and-thunder battle will be remembered; a throwback to an
earlier time when Cup football meant cut and thrust excitement
rather than meaningless battles between reserve teams, a time
when managers like Neil Warnock held sway in the game. This was
the greatest night of Warnock's time at Elland Road, when his
style, ethos and character for once made perfect sense.
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