Sunderland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
(Sunderland win 4-2 on aggregate)
THE First Division strugglers Sunderland knocked the Premier League's third-placed side out of the Coca-Cola Cup with a second- leg victory that mirrored the first, and there will be amazement everywhere but on Weirside.
There, of course, they will be reliving that famous FA Cup final victory of 20 years ago when another Roker side from a lower division overcame Don Revie's Leeds.
The venue last night was less exalted but the exultation at the end was almost as great, not least for the Sunderland striker Don Goodman, the former Elland Road ballboy who Leeds rejected. He has now made them regret it by scoring in his last five appearances against the Yorkshiremen, the latest of which, 17 minutes into this game, effectively ended Leeds' interest in the competition.
With five straight Premiership victories behind them, recovering a one-goal deficit against a club in the First Division relegation zone seemed a formality for Howard Wilkinson's side, and for 10 minutes it looked as though it was.
Alec Chamberlain had to palm away Brian Deane's angled volley and Gary McAllister's 25-yard free- kick. But Leeds' task became twice as difficult when Gary Kelly brought down Martin Gray on the left and Goodman rose to nod Gary Owers' flighted free-kick beyond the grasp of Mark Beeney.
It was against the run of play but a just reward for Sunderland's refusal to commit all their resources to defence, a strategy made easier by Leeds' inability to find their recent flowing attacking rhythm. Unfortunately, another familiar habit of the former champions, a propensity to make silly mistakes at the back, was still much in evidence, and they were made to pay again after 33 minutes when David Wetherall underhit a back-pass to his goalkeeper. Beeney charged out but could only kick the ball against the shins of the incoming Phil Gray, and the ball rolled into the empty net.
Now three behind and deficient in away goals to boot, Leeds needed to do something quickly and Gordon Strachan almost obliged with a snap shot that came back off the crossbar.
But Leeds' much admired midfield was unusually quiet, and it was 11 minutes into the second half before they saw a glimmer of hope. Kelly's cross from the right found Whelan with his back to goal. He brought the ball under control with his chest before hitting a half- volley past Chamberlain.
The goalkeeper snatched another half-chance from under Chris Fairclough's nose, and Leeds' leading scorer Gary Speed squandered a couple of late openings.
Things got worse for Leeds when David Rocastle came on for his first outing of the season and was booked for a foul on Gordon Armstrong, and Strachan limped off with a knee ligament problem.
Sunderland's manager Terry Butcher said: 'It was a battling performance, and once we scored our confidence rose because we knew Leeds had to score a lot of goals. The luck that has deserted us at the start of the season has smiled on us tonight.'
Wilkinson said: 'We lost the game rather than got beaten. We did a lot of things right but did two crucial things wrong and committed suicide early on.'
Leeds United (4-4-2): Beeney; Kelly, Wetherall, Newsome (Rocastle, 66), Dorigo; Strachan (Strandli, 70), Fairclough, McAllister, Speed; Deane, Whelan. Substitute not used: Lukic (gk).
Sunderland (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Ball, Melville, Bennett (Michael Gray, 71), Ord; Owers, Ferguson, Armstrong, Martin Gray; P Gray, Goodman. Substitutes not used: Howey, Norman (gk).
Referee: K Breen (Liverpool).Reuse content