Matteo level-headed as Leeds go through

Defender's first-half goal enough to take O'Leary's side through to second phase at expense of Barcelona
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The Independent Online

They will scarcely credit it in Barcelona, but the demoralised, depleted rabble they routed in the Nou Camp only two months earlier have pipped them for a spot in the lucrative second phase of the Champions' League. Leeds will take their place in tomorrow's draw in Geneva - and deservedly so after a spirited rearguard action against Milan last night.

They will scarcely credit it in Barcelona, but the demoralised, depleted rabble they routed in the Nou Camp only two months earlier have pipped them for a spot in the lucrative second phase of the Champions' League. Leeds will take their place in tomorrow's draw in Geneva - and deservedly so after a spirited rearguard action against Milan last night.

The result means that, for the first time, all three English clubs have reached the last 16. Leeds even harboured hopes of advancing as Group H winners - and of becoming the first English club to beat Milan at home - after surviving a penalty by Andrei Shevchenko midway through the first half and going ahead through Dominic Matteo seconds before the break.

Although the Brazilian winger Serginho disabused them of such notions with 22 minutes remaining, a Leeds team superbly led by Lucas Radebe held out without too many alarms. Their only disappointment was a late caution for Olivier Dacourt, who now misses their next match in the competition.

On being informed that Barcelona's president, Joan Gaspart, had reportedly condemned Milan for lack of effort, O'Leary said pointedly: "I couldn't really care less what they say and I wish them well in the Uefa Cup. I'm delighted for everyone associated with this club, for my mum and dad, my kids and everyone back home."

Afterwards the Leeds players emerged into an otherwise deserted stadium to celebrate their success with 6,000 delirious supporters, their largest following in Europe since the Champions' Cup final in Paris 25 years ago. Local interest was less fervent, with large swathes of the ground empty, although Barcelona can be assured that Milan strove hard for victory and subjected their visitors to considerable pressure.

Radebe, starting for the first time since that night of damage in Catalonia, set the tone for Leeds' performance by dispossessing Serginho as he threatened to waltz through in the tense opening minutes. Serginho soon burned off Gary Kelly and Lee Bowyer before the former brought him down, Demetrio Albertini's free-kick flashing across the face of goal.

But with 26 minutes played, Milan's pressure produced a penalty. Kelly, policing Ser-ginho as he twisted and turned around the angle of the six-yard box, was adjudged to have handled the ensuing shot. Shevchenko's spot-kick went one way, Paul Robinson dived the other, but the ball struck the outside of the post before spinning away for a goal-kick.

Leeds had had their moments before taking the lead, notably when Ian Harte's swerving free-kick tested Dida's handling. Yet they were also indebted to Radebe for two last-ditch interventions as Shevchenko made his trademark runs, and to Robinson for parrying Serginho's drive as it loomed through a crowded area.

The breakthrough Leeds craved stemmed from a corner on the right, won by Mark Vid-uka and swung in to the near post by Bowyer. Matteo stole in front of his marker to send a glancing header just inside the upright. It was Leeds' first goal in Italy since Mick Bates scored at Juventus in the Fairs Cup final of 1971. In five other visits, from Torino in 1965 to Roma earlier this year, they had failed to find the net.

In the event, the blow fired up Milan, on and off the pitch. Robinson assumed his position for the second half against a backdrop of red flares which filled his goalmouth with acrid smoke. Leeds were pushed into ever deeper defence but never buckled or panicked.

The siege intensified after Alberto Zaccheroni, the Milan coach, sent on Zvonimir Boban. While the Croatian immediately saw a goalbound volley deflected away by Harte, the hitherto imperious Radebe came even closer to scoring when he sliced his attempted clearance from Serginho inches wide.

Boban's cross to Shevchenko led to a header which gave Robinson a chance to tip the ball over, demonstrating why the 21-year-old may well be back in Italy next week as part of England's squad in Turin. But Robinson was helpless after Demetrio Albertini released Serginho to run at Kelly, whose tackle he hurdled before angling the ball into the far corner. Leeds, however, merely redoubled their efforts and reaped their reward.

Milan (3-4-3): Dida; Roque Junior, Chamot, Maldini; Helveg, Albertini, Gattuso, Serginho; Leonardo (Boban, 54), Bierhoff, Shevchenko. Substitutes not used: Jose Mari, Ambrosini, Guglielminpietro, Sala, Coco, Abbiati (gk).

Leeds United (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Radebe, Mills, Harte; Bowyer, Bakke, Dacourt, Matteo; Viduka, Smith. Substitutes not used: Jones, Hay, Burns, Maybury, Evans, Milosevic (gk).

Referee: K M Nielsen (Denmark).

QUALIFIERS FOR SECOND GROUP STAGE

Clubs that were drawn together in the same first-phase group and clubs from the same country cannot be drawn in the same group in the second phase. *Seeded clubs

*Real Madrid (Sp) Spartak Moscow (Rus) *Arsenal (Eng) Lazio (It) *Valencia (Sp) Lyon (Fr) *Sturm Graz (Aut) Galatasaray (Turk) *Deportivo La Coruña (Sp) Panathinaikos (Gr) *Bayern Munich (Ger) Paris St-Germain (Fr) *Anderlecht (Bel) Manchester United (Eng) *Milan (It) Leeds United (Eng)

QUALIFIERS FOR UEFA CUP

Bayer Leverkusen (Ger) Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr) Olympiakos Piraeus (Gr) Rangers (Sco) Hamburg (Ger) Rosenborg Trondheim (Nor) PSV Eindhoven (Neth) Barcelona (Sp)

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