Leeds United 2 Norwich City 2
AET, Score at FT 1 - 1, Leeds win 3 - 2 on penalties
“Oh what a night” as the song goes! Last night was the classic example of what we football fans are seeking and hoping for each time we set off for a game; the twists and turns of hope and despair, expectation and disappointment and ultimately euphoria. It’s why they call it the beautiful game I guess.
It was littered with irony too and coincidences, two more things that a great game often oozes. The game began with a tribute to a Revie legend, Gary “Careless Hands” Sprake, the goalkeeper who will forever be remembered as part of that Revie team that ruled English football in the late 60s and early 70s. So it was only fitting that our current “Careless Hands”, Marco Silvestri, another keeper who, like Sprake, is not averse to the odd clanger, would ultimately be the hero of the hour with three amazing penalty saves despite showing us during the game that he can’t catch and he can’t kick a football to save his life!
Gary Monk once again wrong footed most of us by saying in one breath he wanted to keep the momentum of Saturday’s win going and then making 8 changes to the side that won at Molineux. Norwich also made 8 changes so they would have been just as match rusty but their side still had plenty of Premier League experience in it and I doubt many Leeds fans thought we’d keep up with them, especially when we gave the smallest player on the pitch the freedom of the North end to score an unlikely header. As I saw one Tweet describe it – Pritchard was so free it was likely Massimo will be moving to sign him…
Truth be told Norwich pulled us about a bit for the first half-hour but we weathered the storm and in the second half I thought we were the better team and for once we were able to gradually strengthen the side as the three subs were made introducing Wood, Sacko and Phillips although to be fair I thought Doukara and Antonsson were really good anyway.
And then the rollercoaster began as we lose Lewie Coyle and go down to 10 men with extra time looming. 10 minutes into it and like most Leeds fans, I thought our chance was gone. Up pops Sacko who’d already exasperated us several times by running into trouble before making a killer pass to this time hammer in a shot that Ruddy can’t ruddy hold and Wood nipped in to get his ninth goal of the season. Despite his critics, me amongst them in the past, he’s more than on schedule for his 20 goals for the season and he may well prove to be the key to our success or failure this time. 2 – 2 and into penalties it goes and euphoria as Marco saves two of the first three to put us through without too much worry. Cue that rollercoaster going into freefall again as Grimes skies his pen and Phillips has his well saved by ruddy Ruddy. But one more super save from Marco and it was left to our youngest player, Ronaldo Vieira to step up to the plate in front of a packed Kop. Has the boy any nerves? Seemingly not as he deftly sent Ruddy to his right as Vieira stroked the ball to his left.
Oh what a bloody night indeed! You know, it does feel different watching Leeds this season, more things are going right than wrong and unlike recent seasons when usually the final twist went against us, often this season they are going for us. It’s slightly unnerving!
Leeds U Norwich C
Possession 47% 53%
Shots 13 19
On Target 7 9
Corners 7 11
Fouls 18 11