Rangers vs Leeds Utd – The Battle of Britain

By Ross Kilvington
 May 16, 2020

Part One

In 1992 football changed forever - for better or for worse is the question that seems to keep popping up every now and again. Regardless of people’s opinions on this, there is no doubting that the numerous changes in the professional game made a serious lasting impression that is still being felt today.

The serious influx of money into both the English and European game significantly changed the status quo and effectively, over time, gave free reign to the elite teams in Europe. The English first division was rebranded the Premier League due to the significant amount of money being injected in by Sky TV in order the show the games on that specific channel.

Arguably the biggest change to occur was the rebranding of the continents biggest club competition, the European Cup. Unchanged since its inception in 1955, the competition saw a straight knockout format followed up until 1991/1992, in which a group stage was introduced. The winners of each group contested the final. However, 1992/1993 saw the competition given its logo that is still in place today - the ball made up of the eight stars (each star is represented by a club who contested the group stage in 1992/1993, a small piece of trivia if you will)!

Rangers had just won their fourth consecutive title in the 1991/1992 season, as well as the Scottish cup. It was manager Walter Smith’s first full season in charge. Although our dominance in the domestic game was unparrelled, it was in Europe in which the next step was to be taken. Rangers recent European record since the Cup Winners cup was won in 1972 was sketchy to say the least. Two quarter final appearances in the European cup was hardly setting the continent on fire, so something had to change. Was season 1992/1993 the year that we fulfilled our potential in Europe? The campaign would be one of the most dramatic and exciting in recent memory.

Rangers eased past Lyngby of Denmark in the first qualifying round 3-0 on aggregate to set up a second round tie with the reigning English champions Leeds Utd. The English media took great pleasure in this and predicted an easy tie for Leeds and that they would sail through to the inaugural group stage of the Champions League. 

Leeds had somewhat surprisingly won their third English league title the previous year, holding off a fledging Manchester Utdunder Fergie who were aiming to end a 25 year wait for a title. As the English top flight underwent serious rebranding as of 1992/1993, Leeds were effectively the last Division 1 winners. The tie with Rangers was set up in some manner of controversy. The teams first round tie had been against the German champions Stuttgart, however after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate, it was deemed Stuttgart had prevailed on away goals.After the match, a video review took place and revealed that Stuttgart had fielded more than the maximum of three foreign players. The  match was awarded to Leeds 3-0 and a one off tie was ordered to be played in Barcelona, in which Leeds won 2-1. Talk about luck shining down on you!

The battle of Britain was set! Both teams had contrasting starts to their respective league seasons. Rangers had won the previous eight matches in a row to establish a lead at the top of the table. Leeds on the other hand had suffered a terrible start, only winning four out of twelve matches to effectively end their title defence before it had even begun.

The first leg was to take place at Ibrox on the 21st of October. National pride was at stake, the battle between the Scottish and English champions was more than just the result, it was about pride and for Rangers, the chance to silence the critics down south. Optimism was at its highest as the teams came out the Ibrox tunnel to the rapturous noise from the crowd and the form guide would edge Rangers as slight favourites. 

There are bad starts, and then there are terrible starts, and in this instance, it was a dreadful first minute for Rangers. A Leeds corner is flicked out to Gary McAllister who hits it on the volley and flies into the top corner. Ibrox is silenced. Not the most ideal time to lose a goal but there are still 89 minutes on the clock for Rangers to get something from the match.

The reply was to come on the 21st minute. Rangers get a corner and the ball is floated into the middle of the box, as Lukic comes out to surely make a routine punch to clear the ball, he punches it into his own net! A goal is a goal, however, and the Gers won’t complain on how they get them as long as they go in. All square early doors and plenty to play for. 

Rangers are on the ascendency and the second goal comes on the 37th minute. It arrives from another corner, Hateley powers a header and Lukic parries it straight into the path of super Ally -who else? Ally bundles the ball over the line!

Rangers never let go of the lead and stayed in control throughout the match, a disciplined performance especially after conceding the goal in the first minute. The tie however is balanced on a knife-edge, with Leeds having the away goal, another excellent performance will be required by Rangers to qualify for the group stages. The battle of Britain part two is next.

Written by Ross Kilvington (@Kilvington91)

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