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Leeds Utd 1-0 Man Utd

This match was built up by the press and by supporters as Rio’s return to Elland Road. Yet his return was no more than small detail in a very eventful day, and will not be the focus of headline writers. For the record, Rio was booed half heartedly and had a comfortable performance, and quietly went about doing his job.

The day started bright and early due to the kick off time, and it was a quick journey up the M1 to Leeds. As always at Elland Road, the United contingent kept as anonymous as possible outside the ground, with not a red shirt in sight. The Leeds fans had a field day spending their hard earned (or often stolen) cash on anti-Rio and anti-Keane T shirts and banners; very sad. In fact, Far Eastern tourists in the United end had bought these Keane T shirts obviously oblivious to their meanings.

The atmosphere was suprisingly lacking in hostility to the extent that United fans chanted, “where’s your hostile atmosphere?” United totally dominated the first half and deserved to go in with a lead, yet as with games gone by chances were not put away.

The second half was a very different game, probably due to the removal of Nicky Butt with an injury. With Phil Neville and Luke Chadwick in midfield the team lacked strength, and Leeds took control as the game went on. They took their one chance of the match to score, and United became progressively worse as it went on. Leeds celebrated as if they had won the world cup, and most went home happy.

Usually United fans are held in after games at Leeds for at least 40 minutes, and are only allowed out when the home fans have cleared. However, reds managed to break through police lines which lead to United all leaving within ten minutes of the whistle. Leaving the stadium, pitched battles began with Leeds and the police. Hundreds injured as bottles, bricks and fists flew in all directions. Bad policing, stupidity from both sets of fans, and a sour note to a sour result.

Ultimately it was a bad day to be a red. Beaten by our rivals, trouble outside thre ground, another key midfield injury, Beckham alledgedly elbowing Bowyer, Barthez kicking a bottle at Leeds fans, and the United tem bus being attacked. Add to this important wins for Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, and you will see why today is best forgotten.

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