Red & white rumbles: Best home wins v Leeds
Manchester United's last meeting with Leeds United, at Elland Road 12 months ago, was the Reds' 50th win over the Whites in all competitions.
In this extract from United Review, the official programme for tonight's match, we pick out what we consider to be the Old Trafford highlights from that half-century...
UNITED 4 LEEDS 0
27 January 1951 | FA Cup fourth round
Backed by an army of 7,000 travelling fans and managed by former Reds defender Major Frank Buckley, Second Division Leeds arrived at Old Trafford intent on springing an FA Cup upset against Matt Busby’s men. The hosts, who would finish First Division runners-up for the fourth straight season, had other ideas and, led by Stan Pearson, unceremoniously put the tie to bed inside the first half-hour. United’s Salfordian spearhead tapped in a rebound to open the scoring just seven minutes in, after which the hosts ran riot through set pieces. Jack Rowley’s in-swinging corner deceived goalkeeper Harry Searson, who was adjudged to have caught the ball behind the line, and a minute later the beleaguered stopper waved farewell to Pearson’s brilliant header from another Rowley corner. Five minutes on, United’s no.10 completed his treble, this time with a downward header from another Rowley set piece, to wrap up progress in imperious fashion.
UNITED 5 LEEDS 0
7 September 1957 | First Division
Less than six months before the Munich Air Disaster, the Babes served up a signature performance to enthral Old Trafford at the expense of a Leeds side reduced to 10 men for much of the second half. Visiting goalkeeper Roy Wood (not to be confused with our own Ray Wood) turned in a virtuoso performance to keep the scores level until the brink of half-time, when he was finally beaten by Johnny Berry, but the visitors saw their resistance steamrollered during a madcap nine-minute spell which began on the hour. Following the departure of injured left-back Grenville Hair, Leeds understandably caved in against a United side which had already ratcheted up 13 goals in the season’s opening four games, and a baying home contingent crowed with delight as Dennis Viollet’s close-range effort was quickly followed by another Berry shot and a Tommy Taylor brace in an unstoppable show of attacking might.
9 September 1959 | Old Trafford
Unavoidably inconsistent in the campaigns immediately following Munich, United began 1959/60 with yo-yoing performances and results. Unfortunately for Leeds, their trip to Old Trafford coincided with the Reds’ finest outing of the season; a display which began perfectly with Bobby Charlton’s early opener and survived a first-half injury which rendered Albert Quixall a virtual passenger for the remainder of the game. A formational reshuffle moved Warren Bradley to centre-forward and the makeshift man hit a brace before half-time to give the visitors a mountain to climb. United also finished in the ascendancy as Charlton doubled his own tally 20 minutes from time, then Dennis Viollet and Albert Scanlon notched in the closing stages.
17 April 1996 | Premier League
The 16th-minute dismissal of Leeds goalkeeper Mark Beeney for deliberate handball outside the penalty area seemed certain to help United along in the 1995/96 title race, especially when it transpired that the visitors had no back-up stopper in their travelling party. Rather than notch up a boost in goal difference, however, the Reds were instead repeatedly frustrated by stand-in keeper Lucas Radebe. The hulking South African defender had played in goal not only in his formative years, but also the previous month against Middlesbrough after an injury to first-choice custodian John Lukic. Just as he kept out the Teessiders, Radebe repelled whatever United could throw at him, frustrating a packed Old Trafford until, 18 minutes from time, Roy Keane picked his way into space on the edge of the area and drilled in an unstoppable low effort. “I was clapped off by some United fans,” Radebe later grinned. “Quite something for a Leeds player!”
29 November 1998 | Premier League
Just four days after playing out a six-goal thriller with Barcelona in the Nou Camp, United returned to Old Trafford expecting a battle boasting more grit than glamour, but were instead sucked into a thrilling encounter with David O’Leary’s exciting young side, who would emerge as title rivals over the coming seasons. ‘A match that was a long way from being technically perfect but for which the term eventful falls well short,’ summarised Independent journalist Dave Hadfield. On a brand-new Old Trafford pitch, United dominated but fell behind when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink cracked a shot in off Peter Schmeichel’s upright, then recovered to lead through clinical efforts from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Roy Keane a minute either side of the break. Harry Kewell chipped Leeds level after a Wes Brown slip before, 12 minutes from time, an absorbing contest was settled by Nicky Butt who spun and shot from just inside the Stretford End area.
20 December 2020 | Premier League
Leeds had waited 16 years to contest a Premier League fixture with United, but found the outcome essentially decided within three minutes at a stadium that was sadly closed to supporters due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Scott McTominay, playing like “a combination of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes,” according to Gary Neville, rifled in the opener and slid in a second to puncture the visitors’ hopes inside 160 seconds, setting the tone for a swaggering first half in which Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof also netted for the hosts. Liam Cooper reduced the arrears shortly before half-time, but United marched on after the break, forging further ahead when Daniel James burst through to convert and Fernandes slotted in a penalty. Stuart Dallas curled in a fine consolation for Leeds, but United had made a statement. As McTominay put it: “First of all we win the ball, the battles, the basics in a football match and the quality comes out at the end. I felt like we delivered that today.”
14 August 2021 | Premier League
Old Trafford’s first full house in almost 18 months met with a captivating show of force from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Reds on the opening day of last season. Warmed up by the pre-match parade of new recruit Raphael Varane, the home support was in strident mood long before Bruno Fernandes latched on to Paul Pogba’s through ball and fired in the opening goal. Leeds levelled through a ferocious long-ranger from Luke Ayling early in the second period, but that merely provoked United to run riot in the minutes that followed. Mason Greenwood made it 2-1, Fernandes outfoxed three opponents and turned in his second, then cracked in a third for United’s first opening-day hat-trick since 1977, before Fred slid in a fifth United goal at a raucous Stretford End. “It has been a perfect day,” said Solskjaer. “Just driving in with the fans outside, you come inside and feel the energy, absolutely brilliant. It has been a very good day. This is Manchester United – everyone together.”
The full version of this article, also featuring away wins over Leeds, can be found in United Review for this evening's fixture. Copies are available online as well as at Old Trafford before the match.