Season over for injured Bridges, players argue on pitch and spectator confronts manager in dug-out on a bleak night at Elland Road
Fans turn on Venables as Leeds limp out
Leeds United 1 Malaga 2 Malaga win 2-1 on agg
Friday 13 December 2002
Leeds found precious little to distract them or their beleaguered manager from their domestic misery as they went out of the Uefa Cup and lost the services of Michael Bridges for the season.
Two goals from the Panamanian striker, Dely Valdes, were enough to eliminate a side showing evidence of all their recent problems, with Terry Venables grim-faced in the dug-out as Malaga's second, 11 minutes from time, ensured that their European adventure was over.
The whole season is over for the injury-prone Bridges, who was taken off on a stretcher in the first few minutes with what is feared to be a ruptured Achilles' tendon. It was only the 24-year-old's second start following two years out with ankle and knee injuries, as well as a bout of meningitis. It meant a longer stint than planned for the returning invalid, Robbie Fowler, but, although he helped to create Leeds' equaliser, he could not salvage anything from the eventual wreckage.
"I am just heartbroken for the lad," said Venables of Bridges' injury. "He's been out for two years and worked so hard to get back."
Leeds should also have lost another player, but Lee Bowyer somehow avoided being sent off when he not only hacked down Gerardo, but also appeared to stamp on him while he was on the ground. He got away with a lenient yellow card, but he is unlikely to have heard the last of the affair.
"I didn't think he did and I was as close as anyone," said Venables of the stamping allegations. "I thought he was acting."
By the time of that incident, Leeds were already one down and the two-leg tie had its first goal. Musampa, the Congolese winger who was a handful for them all night, beat Danny Mills on the by-line with alarming ease and pulled the ball back for Dely Valdes, who side-footed it home. Given that Leeds had not come back from a goal down to win all season, it was a gloomy beginning to the game.
Leeds showed little sign of being able to respond until midway through the half when Gary Kelly crossed from the left, Fowler produced a vintage touch to volley it back into the goalmouth and Eirik Bakke was there to hammer it into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season.
"To come back at them showed the sort of spirit I am looking for," said Venables, who even managed to put a positive spin on a bout of arguing and pushing between two of his players, Kelly and Jason Wilcox, in the second half.
Apart from fighting among themselves, however, Leeds lost their way after the break. Once Bowyer had put a diving header into the side-netting from Alan Smith's cross, their scoring threat all but disappeared and they were increasingly frustrated by Malaga's time-wasting tactics.
An away draw would have been enough to take the Spaniards into the fourth round, but the skills of their front two always looked liable to produce a second goal and win the tie outright.
Paul Robinson had already had to save well from Marcelo Romero and Manu in the first half and from Musampa as time began to run out for Leeds in the second.
In the 79th minute the identity of the team going into the next round was determined beyond any doubt when Dely Valdes cleverly flicked the ball between Jonathan Woodgate's feet and lashed it left-footed into the net off Robinson's fingertips.
As the final whistle signalled a return to the grim realities of the Premiership – with a high-pressure fixture at Bolton who are three points behind Leeds coming up on Monday – there were chants of: "Terry, Terry, time to go".
"I've been aware of that for a long time, but I keep going," said Venables, who had also seen one angry young fan escorted away from in front of the dug-out in the first half. "It has no effect on me. It's become a way of life."
Leeds United (4-4-2): Robinson; Mills, Duberry, Woodgate, Kelly; Bowyer, Okon, Bakke, Wilcox; Smith, Bridges (Fowler, 8). Substitutes not used: Martyn (gk), Harte, Radebe, McPhail, Johnson, Kilgallon.
Malaga (4-4-2): Contreras; Josemi, Sanz, Roteta, Valcarce; Manu (Sandro, 57), Romero, Gerardo, Musampa (Angel, 79); Silva, Dely Valdes (Litos, 90). Substitutes not used: Arnau (gk), Iznata, Leko, Koko.
Referee: M Busacca (Swit).
Latest in Sport
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 3 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
- 4 California man Christopher Viatafa surrenders to police after googling own name and discovering himself listed as ‘most wanted’
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
Ukip and Nigel Farage on course for remarkable victory in European elections
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say