Leeds United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
LEEDS, who had never previously progressed beyond the quarter-final stage of the FA Youth Cup, last night gave themselves a fine chance of relieving Manchester United of the trophy before a crowd of 30,562 at Old Trafford. A cohesive team performance, rewarded by a goal in each half, negated the superior individual skills of the hosts to ensure another bumper turnout for the second leg of the final at Elland Road on Thursday.
From the start the large Leeds contingent were taunted by the inevitable chants of 'Ooh-aah Cantona'. So there was considerable irony when the visitors went ahead with a goal by a player who, like Manchester's favourite Frenchman, had a spell with Auxerre.
Jamie Forrester, one of five players in the Leeds line-up with Premier League experience, had already forced a flying save from Darren Whitmarsh from 25 yards when Leeds won a corner in the 17th minute. Matthew Smithard's flag kick was flicked on at the near post, and Forrester forced the ball home.
The cries of 'Ooh-aah Forrester' might have been silenced immediately, as Nicky Butt raced clear from the re- start. Paul Pettinger blocked the shot bravely, and had another escape when Mark Tinkler cleared off the line from Scholes.
Leeds defended vigorously - as novel a sight for their fans as an away victory - and doubled the lead in the 61st minute. Gary Neville drove a clearance straight at Noel Whelan, and with Whitmarsh off his line the Leeds striker found the empty net from 18 yards.
Again response was instantaneous as Richard Irving's lob drifted wide. When Pettinger parried another Irving effort, it was clear that this was Leeds' night, although Manchester will remember that they lost the home leg of their semi-final with Millwall and still won through.
Manchester United: Whitmarsh; O'Kane, Riley, Casper, Neville, Gillespie, Butt, Beckham (Savage, 70), Irving (Murdock, 78), Scholes, Thornley.
Leeds United: Pettinger; Couzens, Sharp, Tinkler, Daly, Bowman, Smithard, Ford, Whelan, Oliver, Forrester. Substitutes not used: Byrne, Tobin.
Referee: P Durkin (Portland, Dorset).
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