Vennegoor vanquishes Leeds with late strike

Leeds United 0 PSV Eindhoven 1 PSV win 1-0 on aggregate
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The Independent Football

Leeds' season goes from bad to wretched. With 58 seconds to go before extra time they scarcely deserved, David O'Leary's side were dumped out of the Uefa Cup ­ their last hope of silverware in a campaign which held rich promise at the turn of the year ­ by PSV's distinctively named striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Vennegoor's brave diving header amid the flying boots on the home goal-line, after Theo Lucius had struck the bar, means that Leeds' most likely route to Europe could well be the much-mocked Intertoto Cup. They have now gone nine matches without winning ­ and failed to score in five of the last six ­ but could have no complaints as a PSV team inspired by Marc van Bommel booked an all-Dutch quarter-final with Feyenoord.

It was scant consolation to Leeds that they ran PSV rather closer than when they were trounced 8-3 on aggregate in the same competition six and a half years ago. The longer the match wore on, the more Leeds tired through the simple fact that they were chasing the ball so much, and the more their already-fragile confidence started to ebb away.

With hindsight, O'Leary may regret omitting David Batty, a player renowned for his Dutch-like tendency not to give the ball away cheaply. Television statistics gave PSV 65 per cent of the possession, a staggering figure for an away team. Despite the absence of the injured Olivier Dacourt, Batty was left on the bench. Less surprisingly, there was no sign of the one "playmaker" in Leeds' squad, Stephen McPhail.

Afterwards, O'Leary challenged his players to halt a decline that is fast becoming a crisis, both for the players and a manager who has spent £96m building a squad. "We've got to be big and strong now, starting at Everton on Sunday," he said. "We've got 11 games left to see what we're made of. There are 33 points to play for if we're going to get back into the Champions' League or this competition."

O'Leary added: "It was the same old story. I thought it was going to extra time but it wasn't to be. It sums up our season that they scored with seconds to go. I thought we played well in the first half and should have scored, but PSV were the better team in the second. Even so it was a killer goal."

If Leeds are searching for solace today, the only glimmer will come from their first-half feistiness. Eirik Bakke was first to test Patrick Lodewijks with a 25-yard volley. Then a clever reverse pass by Lee Bowyer played in Mark Viduka, whose angled shot looped behind off the keeper.

PSV clawed their way back through the laser passing of van Bommel. The midfielder, linked with a close-season switch to Arsenal, was booed because of his serial fouling in the first leg, but is clearly a player with poise and vision as well as Roy Keane-style ruggedness.

Yet there were moments when Leeds looked like the side who scaled the Premiership summit. When Harry Kewell jinked past his marker and passed into the 18-yard box, Viduka's deft return invited the shot which his fellow Australian curled inches beyond the far post. Viduka's cut-back soon supplied Kewell with a more clear-cut opportunity. The goal was at his mercy, but a lack of composure meant the ball finished high in the stand.

The longer the stalemate persisted, the more encouraged PSV were. Andre Ooijer, with a header, and Lucius, from a shot diverted for a corner, both came close. Still, though, Lodewijks was busy, showing bravery and agility respectively to thwart Alan Smith and Bakke.

The start of the second half brought more of the same, Loudewijks pushing aside Bowyer's header. It proved deceptive, for PSV began to dominate possession, with van Bommel dictating play. Matejl Kezman's shot was kept out only by a full-stretch save from Nigel Martyn, with Rio Ferdinand blocking van Bommel's close-range volley. When Vennegoor's angled shot trickled tantalisingly wide, the additional half-hour seemed a certainty. The same player, showing a different kind of Dutch courage, left O'Leary facing an increasingly familiar outcome.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn; Mills, Ferdinand, Matteo, Harte; Kelly, Bowyer, Bakke, Kewell; Smith, Viduka. Substitutes not used: Keane, McPhail, Wilcox, Duberry, Batty, Burns, Robinson (gk).

PSV Eindhoven (4-4-2): Lodewijks; Bogelund, Hofland, Ooijer, Bouma; Rommedahl, Van Bommel, Vogel, Lucius; Kezman, Vennegoor of Hesselink (Gakhokidze, 90). Substitutes not used: Faber, Ramzi, De Jong, Addo, Nikiforov, Coutinho (gk).

Referee: A Nieto (Spain).

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