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Jermaine Beckford cuts short Manchester United's FA Cup run

FA Cup Third Round

Manchester United 0
Leeds United 1
  • Beckford 19
Jermaine Beckford

Leeds United's Jermaine Beckford celebrates scoring the winner against Manchester United to put the champions out of the FA Cup. Photograph: Jon Super/AP

There will be Leeds United supporters who take issue with the description of this once mighty club as "giant-killers" but, when you consider that their last league game was at Stockport County and the next is Wycombe Wanderers, nobody could dispute this was a victory that has grabbed the FA Cup by its shirt collar and reminded us all about the improbability of football. How, you wonder, can the FA Cup possibly produce anything more stunning in the next rounds?

Manchester United, the 11-time winners, had not been knocked out of the third round since losing at Bournemouth in 1984 and yet the team from League One played with not a hint of trepidation. They were strong in the challenge, quick to the ball, and the most remarkable result of a weekend otherwise devoid of upsets felt like a defining moment for a club that will want to forget the last decade in a hurry.

What we can say for certain is that Leeds look like a team that have finally found their feet and rediscovered some pride. Jermaine Beckford's winning goal, 19 minutes into a wretched day for Manchester United, can automatically be added to the annals of great FA Cup moments, a goal that will be replayed a thousand times but never too often for those 9,000 supporters who had come across the M62 maybe hoping, at best, to get a replay.

Beckford was outstanding as Leeds inflicted the kind of embarrassment on Manchester United that few could ever have envisaged. Sir Alex Ferguson would later complain that every one of his players had a bad day and it was difficult to argue considering they did not subject their opponents to any sustained pressure until the five minutes of stoppage time.

Ferguson likes to boast that no other team conjures up as much late drama but every time a player in red got a sight of goal someone in white, or some part of the goalkeeper Casper Ankergren's anatomy, somehow got in the way. At one point Bradley Johnson went into a tackle with a diving header. The sight of Patrick Kisnorbo, bandaged head, blood pouring from his nose, epitomised the Leeds spirit of togetherness. It felt like a trick of the mind that this, indeed, was a side belonging to the third tier.

This, however, was not just a victory for hard toil and organisation. There was inspiration to go with the perspiration. Beckford, fast and lithe, was a constant menace, causing as many problems as any Premier League striker to visit Old Trafford this season. Robert Snodgrass, a substitute, curled a free-kick against the crossbar and even if the home side had marginally more chances there was a sense of desperation attached to their play. It is always a sign that Ferguson's men are not playing well when he leaves his electrically heated dug-out, and his eyes were burning holes in his players from the first moment he appeared in the technical area.

By then Leeds were in front, Jonathan Howson's long pass releasing Beckford in the knowledge the striker has the pace and movement to trouble the most accomplished defence and a player who was working as an RAC repair man three years ago supplying the rest. Wes Brown, Nemanja Vidic's replacement, had let his opponent get a yard away and, even though Beckford's first touch took him away from goal, Tomasz Kuszczak was slow to leave his goal-line when quicker reactions meant the ball could have been gathered. Beckford got there ahead of the goalkeeper and clipped a left-foot shot just inside the post.

If we are going to be generous, Ferguson could cite the fact he lost Vidic in the warm-up and that three-quarters of his defenders were coming back from other injury problems. There were seven changes in total but, even so, it was astonishing to see the lack of cohesion and fluidity in Ferguson's side. Wayne Rooney never stopped trying but his finishing was erratic. Dimitar Berbatov flickered only sporadically and by the end the substitute Michael Owen had resorted to throwing himself to the floor to try to win a penalty.

Those were frantic moments but nobody should think it was an onslaught. Leeds could also reflect on Beckford shooting wide when clear on goal 10 minutes from the end and there were long spells when they out-passed their opponents. The victory was no fluke and that, perhaps, was the most shocking aspect.


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FA Cup third round: Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United

This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 15.01 GMT on Sunday 3 January 2010. It was last modified at 22.57 GMT on Sunday 3 January 2010.

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  • theheadhoncho113 theheadhoncho113

    3 Jan 2010, 3:23PM

    Michael Owen had resorted to throwing himself to the floor to try to win a penalty.

    'Throwing himself to the floor...'? Nah. Definitely not a penalty, but probably a free kick just outside the box.

    Leeds deserved their win and their fifteen minutes of fame.

  • ManxApe ManxApe

    3 Jan 2010, 3:24PM

    Well before this result I was feeling a bit depressed at the prospect of going back to work tomorrow. It's cheered me right up and I can't wait to rub a few manc's faces in it!

  • Brasil82 Brasil82

    3 Jan 2010, 3:24PM

    Congratulations to United but the flavour of the article misses the point which is that the FA Cup is not at all a priority for any top club. If Liverpool or Manchester United were given the opportunity to swap one Premier League point for a victory, both would decline and I'll bet you'd struggle to get them to swap even a Pemier league goal.

  • tshebe tshebe

    3 Jan 2010, 3:26PM

    Such exquisite joy - even beats many 1970s memories, especially as I never expected to be able to see the game live in Japan, and in those days it was more often Leeds that were surprised by second or third tier opponents.

    What was that Lou Macari said, by the way, about having never heard of most of the Leeds players, and the whole thing being a mismatch?

  • taomaster taomaster

    3 Jan 2010, 3:26PM

    As much as it pains me to say it, well done Leeds. You deserved it. You had more energy, more hunger and I haven't heard the crowd at Old Trafford so vocal for some time.

    I thought taking off Anderson for the hapless Owen was a mistake. Anderson was the only ball winner on the day for United and once he went Leeds coupld have had a couple more because the midfield opened up for them. SAF doesn't make many mistakesd, but when he does it costs us dearly.

    I am not looking forward to Wednesday.

  • iamafreeman iamafreeman

    3 Jan 2010, 3:26PM

    SURELY this arrogant manager, making his 99th tinkering team change in a row, DUMPED out of the FA Cup at HOME to a LOWER LEAGUE SIDE, surely he MUST now be under enormous pressure.

    They do NOT like it up 'em Mr Mannering

    Shows the Benitez-bashing of the assorted media up to be just the shabby murky business that us Liverpudlians always knew it was

  • hexa hexa

    3 Jan 2010, 3:26PM

    Congratulations to Leeds, a great performance, at times it was difficult to spot who were the Premiership side playing at home.

    Rooney looked bad from the off, sullen and lacking concentration. Given his season so far, no complaints - just an off-day. But where's the talent to make up when he has a bad 'un? That was supposed to be Berbatov. Instead Manchester United know full well the only consistent, inspiring, creative player left in the locker is Giggs - currently in a lull. Only really positive signs: Valencia and Fabio.

  • GMcG GMcG

    3 Jan 2010, 3:27PM

    Well, that went rather well.

    Until the 95th minute I still thought they'd somehow fluke an equaliser. But, you know what? Leeds deserved that win.

  • DKeith0904 DKeith0904

    3 Jan 2010, 3:27PM

    Congrats to Leeds, they earned that, they are far superior to plenty of Premiership sides I've seen this season. Makes that ol League cup semi against City look pretty important now...and don't kid yourself, that was important for us, we just got caught out by a great team performance.

  • saltspringisland saltspringisland

    3 Jan 2010, 3:29PM

    Manchester United were terrible. They gave the ball away so much, Gary Neville and Wes Brown were skinned alive (with Brown lucky to stay on the pitch). Michael Owen utterly ineffectual when he came on.

    Leeds United wanted it more. Incredibly commitment and a lung-bursting effort.

  • mamahuhu mamahuhu

    3 Jan 2010, 3:29PM

    really impressed with leeds,throughly deserved the result played some good football.there,s many a premiership side that could do well to study their approach to this game including mu.

  • iamanentrant iamanentrant

    3 Jan 2010, 3:30PM

    So this is what schadenfreude feels like

    I think Leeds deserve that victory. If I were to make a fair assessment of that game at OT + Fergie time+ 69,879 Man Utd fans, I have to say that victory is truly remarkable.

    Ther's an old saying in this country----- ' 1-0 , that's how the champions win, they grind out a result.'..

    And i guess that quote leads to Leeds.

  • GMcG GMcG

    3 Jan 2010, 3:31PM

    Brasil82,

    'Congratulations to United but the flavour of the article misses the point which is that the FA Cup is not at all a priority for any top club. If Liverpool or Manchester United were given the opportunity to swap one Premier League point for a victory, both would decline and I'll bet you'd struggle to get them to swap even a Pemier league goal.'

    1 point in exchange for beating Leeds?

    Bullshit.

  • dhgofhernehill dhgofhernehill

    3 Jan 2010, 3:31PM

    Brasil82

    The way old Puceface was purpling up as per towards the end of the match, tapping out "ten more minutes" in furious morse code on his Mickey Mouse wristwatch, tells all that the FA Cup really does matter ...

    ... after all, no one likes to be HUMILIATED!

    Funniest game of the decade ... so far ...

    And some could say that Michael Owen was the first graduate of the Paul Scholes School of Diving, inaugurated circa 1997. And it was a fine swan by old Mickey today ... Puceface need to play him more often!!

  • DogManStar DogManStar

    3 Jan 2010, 3:32PM

    Just how did Wes Brown not get sent off?
    On a yellow and commits 3 crude challenges, each worthy of a yellow.

    Ref plays 5+ mins injury time, MU fail to score, and still 'Sir' Alex doesn't shake the Leeds manager's hand and rants at 4th official.

    You put it all together there's the model of a charmless man, as Mr Albarn once said.

  • danmckeown danmckeown

    3 Jan 2010, 3:33PM

    I think the biggest shock of the game was Wes Brown staying on the pitch for the full 90 minutes. He looked like he'd been getting tackling lessons from Paul Scholes.

  • nomoresurfin nomoresurfin

    3 Jan 2010, 3:33PM

    Gary Neville wouldn't get a game in a conference north side so hapless and over the hill is he, yet a football club debt ridden to the tune of £700million or more continue to pay him £70k a week, why?

  • cityrule cityrule

    3 Jan 2010, 3:34PM

    Well done Leeds and this is from someone who supports Man United. Leeds were excellent and fully deserved their win. They were well organized and passed the ball really well. They should have won by more than one goal. I could make the excuse that Man United were very poor (which they were) but that should detract from what was a fine Leeds performance. They should not only get promotion from Div 1 but they should also next season from the championship. If they continue on the same way then they will be in the premiership in a couple of years. As for Man United, well they basically need to invest in some players of real quality. This is not a knee jerk reaction, but the current squad has run its course and basically the first eleven is not good enough to compete for the highest honors any more.

  • theKnowledge theKnowledge

    3 Jan 2010, 3:34PM

    coldcut wrote: "So this is what schadenfreude feels like"

    Not quite yet; the complete feeling will be when you start reading the excuses, whining, and/or "expert" analysis giving by the "brave" United fans who will dare to show up on this blog.

    :-)
    -

  • gingerfreak gingerfreak

    3 Jan 2010, 3:35PM

    Blimey, I thought we'd get pumped. Individually Man U had more talent, but we played as a team, rode our luck at times (as did they) and I am over the moon, 110% and all that. I'll try fit some more cliches in later.

    And the fans were in fine sweary voice.

  • ian64 ian64

    3 Jan 2010, 3:36PM

    What was that Lou Macari said, by the way, about having never heard of most of the Leeds players, and the whole thing being a mismatch?

    I don't know. I can never make out most of what he says as his arse-cheeks muffle the sound.

    Well done Leeds.

  • Alarming Alarming

    3 Jan 2010, 3:37PM

    Once again Utd prove themselves superior to Liverpool. Liverpool play badly and can only draw with Reading whereas Utd go the whole hog and lose.

    Berbatov though. He is a waste of money isn't he?

  • Stuntman Stuntman

    3 Jan 2010, 3:37PM

    @Brasil82

    "Congratulations to United but the flavour of the article misses the point which is that the FA Cup is not at all a priority for any top club. If Liverpool or Manchester United were given the opportunity to swap one Premier League point for a victory, both would decline and I'll bet you'd struggle to get them to swap even a Premier league goal."

    So why is ol' Purple Nose refusing to come out for an interview??
    No doubt you'll also be telling us that Man U's rivals are "actually Real Madrid, Inter and Chelsea" whilst mopping up that last bit of delicious olive tapenade with your unleavened focaccia.

    Tee-hee, I love the prawnies!

  • SammyO SammyO

    3 Jan 2010, 3:39PM

    @Brasil82 - rubbish. Liverpool would almost certainly swap a PL point for an FA cup win and you only have to look at the team that Utd put out today to realise how seriously SAF takes the FA Cup.

    Make no mistake, the FA Cup is a big trophy and it matters to every manager out there.

  • bennetmarco bennetmarco

    3 Jan 2010, 3:46PM

    Am I the only one who now hears a rumble of thunder and sees a black raven land outside the window whenever the commentator rolls out stats and facts with the word 'never' in them?

    Still, great win for Leeds. Although it helped that a few of our players were shying away from the ball like it was black and had a fizzling fuse sticking out of it.

  • RememberThe66 RememberThe66

    3 Jan 2010, 3:47PM

    SURELY this arrogant manager, making his 99th tinkering team change in a row, DUMPED out of the FA Cup at HOME to a LOWER LEAGUE SIDE, surely he MUST now be under enormous pressure.

    They do NOT like it up 'em Mr Mannering

    Shows the Benitez-bashing of the assorted media up to be just the shabby murky business that us Liverpudlians always knew it was

    Sir Alex Ferguson was under pressure by the media from 2002-2006. During that time, Ferguson made some questionable buys and one amazing purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo. That bad spell included one Premier League trophy, one FA Cup and one League Cup.

    Rafa Benitez has been under pressure by the media from 2006-Present. During that time, Benitez has made some questionable buys and one amazing purchase of Fernando Torres. This bad spell included....no major trophies.

    Benitez won the Champions League with players such as Djimi Traore and Harry Kewell and that is an amazing achievement. He followed that victory by an FA Cup win the following season. The problem is, this is Benitez's sixth season in charge of Liverpool and he should have a team and squad capable of challenging and winning the Premier League title.

    They did brilliantly last season but this season, when the weird results that have shown that Liverpool could have ran away with the title with a good group of players. People are questioning whether last season's title chase was more a flash in the pan on Liverpool's part rather than a very good solid foundation to constantly be close to the eventual champions before dethroning them.

    Liverpool fans constantly harp on about how it took Ferguson almost seven years to win his first title while Benitez had won the Champions League in his first season. During that time, Ferguson was building and biding his time and created teams that went to dominate English football in the 90's and 00's.

    I look at Benitez and don't see any signs of him winning the title in his seventh season in charge nor him being in charge of a dominant Liverpool side this decade.

    Ferguson has three consecutive league titles, a European Cup, a League Cup and a World Club Cup to have journalists cut some slack when things aren't going too well for his team.

    Benitez has nothing after the FA Cup victory to say to journalists: "Look, this is what happens when you write me off."

  • tshebe tshebe

    3 Jan 2010, 3:47PM

    @ManxApe

    Well before this result I was feeling a bit depressed at the prospect of going back to work tomorrow. It's cheered me right up and I can't wait to rub a few manc's faces in it!

    Sorry I can't be there with you, but please don't hold back, especially when they come up with "we're out of your league" excuses about the FA Cup not being important any more.

  • LeProblemCock LeProblemCock

    3 Jan 2010, 3:48PM

    As a Manc living in Leeds I'd love to pretend this didn't matter. But of course it did. I think it had more to do with it being Leeds than the FA Cup itself but there's no way I'm okay with us losing this.

    The boss picked a side that was just a bit to soft in the centre but that's not to say Leeds didn't deserve it. Just felt we gave a bit of impetus away with the team selection. Leeds, as said earilier, worked harder and let's be honest came closer on more occassions to getting the second next goal.

    United didn't play that badly and after the game against Wigan I'm very disappointed we didn't seem to click. I thought we might finally be finding some rhythm this season and then the boss goes and messes around with the team again.

    Congratulations to the Leeds fans, I'm back to work tomorrow for a good day of being dry humped...

  • nomoresurfin nomoresurfin

    3 Jan 2010, 3:48PM

    Gary Neville wouldn't get a game in a conference north side so hapless and over the hill is he, yet a football club debt ridden to the tune of £700million or more continue to pay him £70k a week, why?

  • RockinBob RockinBob

    3 Jan 2010, 3:49PM

    Unbearable tension followed by unparalleled joy. Whatever happens next we're going to live off this one for a long, long time. I've supported Leeds since the 60s and this has to be one of my happiest moments. The tide is turning. Fergie's magic has finally run out and the Mighty Whites are on the way back, make no mistake. It's not really a proper championship without Leeds in the mix. Also wanted to say that Berbatov really is an absolute pile of old bollards. To my fellow Yorkies, let's enjoy this one and rub the Mancs' faces in it good and proper.
    All we need now for a perfect season is to beat the Chelski vermin in the final and lay to rest the nightmare of 1970 once and for all.

  • theeskimo theeskimo

    3 Jan 2010, 3:49PM

    I know I shouldn't laugh but, well, I just can't help it!!

    Rags, you've have had a peek in to your future today. Hope you enjoyed it because that is just how good your shadow squad is. Leeds are THIRD division!

    Having said that, didn't Rooney and Berbaflop play the full match along with Brown (a regular according to my United mate at work) and Kuszczak? Oh, and Giggs, that bloke from Wigan (you know, you're BIG summer signing) and little Mickey came on as well didn't they?

    I hope you're looking forward to life after Rooney because it looks like he might be next summers loan instalment payment.

    Things look bleak at Owed Trafford.

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