Football: Korsten snaps back

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Leeds United 1

Korsten 55

Everton 0

Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 36,344

IN HIS programme notes for this bruising scrap, David O'Leary suggested the FA Cup offered Leeds' most likely passage to Europe, despite the daunting prospect of Wednesday's fifth-round replay at White Hart Lane. If that seemed far-fetched, given Spurs' form in recent weeks, this result confirmed his "babes" can grind out hard-won results and stay in the top five.

O'Leary will have none of it, keeping up a low-key approach. "We're only a top-eight side," he said. "If we do better than that and finish in the top four, it will be like winning the championship for us. We need more quality players and we have got a frightening injury list. We look with envy at the Chelsea and Manchester United substitutes' benches, for example, and we know what we need to do."

Yesterday, Leeds' squad was stretched but they played with enough passion and organisation in the second half to wipe away the memory of an opening period so moribund that it reduced Elland Road to silence.

Walter Smith had a point in bemoaning his team's misfortune. After a mini-revival, Everton fell back on bad old ways, failing to score and contributing to the charmless nature of a contest littered with errors, fouls and bookings. "A disappointing end to a reasonable week," said the manager who should copyright the term "dour Scot".

Leeds' on-loan striker Willem Korsten marked his first home start with a goal, but Everton almost snatched an equaliser in the last minute as the substitute Danny Cadamarteri, booked for a foul on Alan Smith, saw Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink clear his header off the line.

Not only the history books, which show they have not won at Leeds in 32 attempts in the last 48 years, were against the Toffees. It just was not their day.

Last September's encounter was equally dire and saw Olivier Dacourt sent off. Old feuds were rekindled as Bowyer, all elbows and snapping tackles, bit like Billy Bremner. In the second minute, he escaped an 11th yellow card of the season for a reckless jump into Dacourt's midriff.

Hasselbaink's hooked volley forced Thomas Myhre to save one-handed before the beastliness began. Nick Barmby, for a late challenge on Gunnar Halle, Richard Dunne, for an offence on Korsten, and Alf-Inge Haaland, colliding into Dacourt, were shown David Elleray's yellow card within six minutes.

After that, Everton enjoyed a decent spell, Dacourt thumping in three long-range shots. Don Hutchison's thunderous left-footer, which rose only inches too high, confirmed the Mersey-siders were the driving force.

O'Leary's team began the second half with more tempo, purpose and composure. Their temperaments under control, they let their football talk and, after 55 minutes, took the lead. Hasselbaink used his pace and muscle in an interchange with Vitesse Arnhem's Korsten, who steered his shot across Myhre. "That pleased me," said O'Leary. "But not much else did today."