Relief for Venables as Leeds dig deep

Malaga 0 Leeds United 0

Leeds put a tempestuous last few days behind them to produce a battling display on the Costa del Sol in this Uefa Cup third-round first leg. Their manager, Terry Venables, and his under-performing players have been under severe pressure in recent weeks, having been criticised for a number of inept displays which have belied the talent in the team.

Last night, though, they dug deep into the reserves of spirit that Venables has long said exists within the squad to produce a defiant goalless draw in the face of strong pressure from the Spanish side.

Venables named his strongest possible line-up but, with Leeds injury-hit, he had only six players on the bench rather than the seven permitted by Uefa. Out were Mark Viduka, Danny Mills, Dominic Matteo, Olivier Dacourt, Lucas Radebe, Robbie Fowler and Seth Johnson, while Teddy Lucic and James Milner were ineligible – the latter as he is too young.

Michael Duberry was given only his second start this season, with the centre-back also playing in the 4-1 second-round second-leg victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv in Florence, while Ian Harte returned at left-back after missing the last two games with a calf injury.

Malaga unsurprisingly started on the front foot, producing three incisive raids in the opening five minutes. But then a mistake on the edge of his own area by Fernando Sanz in the ninth minute gave Leeds their first chance. Jason Wilcox fed Alan Smith and, having scored five goals in his last three games, the 22-year-old looked set to score, only for his powerful drive to rebound off the legs of Pedro Contreras.

A Harry Kewell cross from the left had too much pace for the arriving Smith as Leeds grew in confidence. But then a Jonathan Woodgate foul on Marcelo Romero just before the half-hour mark midway inside the Leeds half led to an unnecessary bout of pushing and shoving between a number of players, with Smith unsurprisingly involved. That must have caught the attention of the Italian referee Alfredo Trentalange for, within a minute, after Smith had been brought down by Romero, he earned a caution for stupidly pushing over the Uruguayan midfielder.

There must have been consternation on the Leeds bench moments later when Smith and Contreras went for a 50-50-ball, with Smith lunging into the challenge. Fortunately there was no contact and, although Contreras went to ground holding his leg and a baying crowd demanded Smith's dismissal, the goalkeeper had only fallen awkwardly.

Just two minutes into the second half Paul Robinson made his first notable save from Julio Dely Valdez's miscued shot. Malaga made a double substitution, Edgar replacing Manu Sanchez and Koke on for Iznata, but Leeds continued to hold firm. After surviving a penalty appeal, a Kizito Musampa cross then ballooned up off Harte and appeared to be heading goalwards, only for a relieved Robinson to clutch the ball to his chest.

"I thought it was a good result," Venables said. "I thought we made a lot of chances in the first half. We played very well and didn't sit back. They pushed us back but they are a dangerous side. It's always nice to keep a clean sheet."

Malaga: Contreras, Roteta, Fernando Sanz, Valcarce, Romero, Josemi, Iznata (Edgar, 62), Manu (Koke, 62), Sandro, Musampa, Dely Valdes. Substitutes not used: Rafa (gk), Rojas, Litos, Miguel Angel, Leko.

Leeds United: Robinson, Kelly, Duberry, Woodgate, Harte, Bowyer, Bakke, McPhail, Wilcox, Smith, Kewell. Substitutes not used: Martyn (gk), Bridges, Okon, Burns, Richardson, Kilgallon.

Referee: A Trentalange (Italy).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor