Tormentor Cantona

Leeds United 0 Manchester United 4 Martyn 3 (og), Butt 49, Pobors ky 77, Cantona 90 Attendance: 39,694

The Manchester United fans in the south stand were obliged to endure an Ooh! and an Aah! on their annual trip to Elland, and back, yesterday. But the sight of Eric Cantona carelessly trundling wide a penalty, two minutes before half-time, was the only painful moment for them. It was appropriate, as events unfolded, that the Frenchman's kick came to rest against an advertising board which read: Wilkinson Sword. It was Cantona who had the final hand, or foot, in putting Howard Wilkinson and his side to the sword.

He twisted the blade two minutes into injury time, converting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's right-wing cross at the far post before raising his arms in celebration to the suffering supporters who worshipped him in the days when the all-seater Don Revie stand was Elland Road's Kop. The Leeds fans had already been reduced to such depths of dejection that they were moved to applaud their traditional enemies from across the Pennines. Chants of "Wilko for City" momentarily unified the followers of the two Uniteds.

But there was almost literally only one United in the game. Leeds did not muster a shot at goal until the final three minutes, when Ian Harte fired over the bar and Mark Hateley headed against it.

The man on the public address system gave "Barcelona" an airing at half- time. But on the evidence of yesterday's performance, Ferguson is returning to the Champions' League on Wednesday with more aces up his sleeve than he had in the Nou Camp two years ago. As well as his Frenchman, his team featured a Dutchman, a Norwegian and a citizen of the Czech Republic.

They led from the second minute with a little help from Leeds as Karel Poborsky, who took the corner, and Ronny Johnsen, whose header and follow-up shot found the back of the net via the back of Nigel Martyn's head despite attempted goal-line clearances by first Mark Ford and then Ian Harte.

The stranglehold Manchester United took was applied from the flanks. The craft of Poborsky, who filled the reshuffled vacancy created by the injured Gary Pallister's absence, and Jordi Cruyff provided the space Cantona and his colleagues exploited.

Cantona's wayward spot-kick, after Cruyff was tugged by David Wetherall, gave Leeds only temporary relief. Three minutes into the second half, Poborsky steamed past three opponents and Nicky Butt swept in the second goal. Then, after 76 minutes, Cantona set Poborsky free from the half- way line and Martyn was beaten with a delightful chip-shot.

"Absolutely first class," was Ferguson's verdict. "It's going to be difficult for us on Wednesday night but we showed today we've got a lot of things in our favour." With Pallister expected to be fit and Andy Cole, a second- half substitute yesterday after recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia, the champions of England are in rude health as they prepare to face Juventus, the champions of Europe. Leeds were the ones who caught a cold yesterday.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

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
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada