Football: Good omens for Leeds

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The Independent Online
Leeds United enjoyed an auspicious start to their long-awaited return to Europe with a comfortable 2-1 victory over VfB Stuttgart, their first opponents in the Champions' Cup, in the Makita Tournament at Elland Road yesterday. They meet Sampdoria - 2-0 winners over Nottingham Forest - in today's final.

However, Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, will certainly shuffle his cast before he takes them to Germany for the real thing on 16 September. Gary Speed, versatile though he is, is unlikely to appear as a central defender, and Leeds also hope for the return of the injured Mel Sterland, and their captain, Gordon Strachan.

If what Stuttgart revealed was any more meaningful, they are athletic, close-marking, quick-tackling and effective on the break, as Fritz Walter demonstrated after 20 minutes when he latched on to Thomas Strunz's lobbed clearance to chip over John Lukic.

Jon Newsome and Speed both went close from set-pieces before Rod Wallace, Leeds' most effective attacker, converted Chris Whyte's pass. Two minutes later, in his first outing for his new club, David Rocastle poked in the winner off a post after Eike Immel dropped Wallace's cross.

'This did not tell us much about our next meeting, except that it will be very close,' Wilkinson said.

Sampdoria, last season's beaten European Cup finalists, provided ample evidence against Forest of the sort of close-passing possession football, enlivened by moments of inspiration, that Leeds will encounter if they progress beyond the first hurdle.

Attilio Lombardo put the Italians ahead, and Pietro Vierchowod added a late second. Des Walker, at the heart of the Genoese defence against his former club, was rarely disturbed.

Nottingham Forest: M Crossley; B Laws, S Pearce, T Wilson (S Chettle, 78), C Tiler, R Keane (R McKinnon, h/t); G Crosby, S Gemmill, N Clough, T Sheringham, I Woan.

Sampdoria: G Pagliuca; M Mannini (R Bucchioni, 70), M Lanna, D Walker, P Vierchowod, S Katanec, A Lombardo, V Jugovic, M Bertarelli, (M Serena, 68), R Mancini, I Bonetti.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Goals: Lombardo (0-1, 35min); Vierchowod (0-2, 79).

Leeds United: J Lukic; J Newsome, T Dorigo, S Hodge, S Sellars (D Batty h/t), C Whyte, D Rocastle (E Cantona, 81), R Wallace, L Chapman, G McAllister, G Speed.

VfB Stuggart: E Immel; G Schafer, M Frontzeck, S Dubajic, T Strunz, G Buchwald, E Sverrisson, (U Schneider, 71), A Golke (A Knup, 71), F Walter, M Gaudino, L Kogl.

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

Goals: Walter (0-1, 24), Wallace (1-1, 57), Rocastle

(2-1, 59).

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