The Battle of Britain - Part Two: Leeds United vs Rangers

By Ross Kilvington
 August 10, 2020

The Godfather Part 2. Lord of the Rings the Two Towers. The Empire Strikes Back. Even Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Pulling off a great sequel is difficult, but these films in many eyes, surpass the original. In sporting terms, rematches can be a thing of unparalleled   joy. Seeing rivals face off against each other again after months, or even years, later can elicit feelings of nostalgia. Think of Ali vs Frazier, as two titans collide to see who would become heavyweight champion of the world. Or even Borg vs McEnroe in the 1981 Wimbledon final - McEnroe aiming to dethrone Borg, who had been the king at the championships since 1976.

I think it’s safe to say that the second leg of the battle of Britain between Rangers and Leeds will go down as many bluenoses favourite ever footballing sequel. A match in which everything was at stake, a place in the inaugural group stages of the Champions League, national pride and the chance to rake in millions in prize money. This was to be the most important match in not just both clubs respective seasons, but also in their recent history.

As the dust settled on the first leg, Leeds went home from Ibrox, wounded from the battle, but they still had a chance. A vital away goal scored by Gary McAllister (yes that one) meant the tie was still all to play for coming into the second leg at Elland Road.

Battle of Britain between Rangers and Leeds

The Battle of Britain - Part Two Leeds United vs Rangers 1992 leeds 2 rangers 1

There was only two weeks between the first and second legs. Rangers defeated Motherwell 4 – 2 at Ibrox to set themselves up well for the tie. Leeds on the other hand continued their miserable form; they only managed to gain one point out of six on the run up to the second leg. Rangers had to be the favourites not only to progress, but also to win the match.

The game was set for the 4th of November 1992. 25000 fans packed into Elland Road that night, not quite as much that had rushed into Ibrox, but nevertheless the tension ran high due to what was at stake.

Hateley and McCoist leading the line for Rangers

With only one goal needed by Leeds to progress on away goals, they would require keeping a clean sheet and with Hateley and McCoist leading the line for Rangers, this was an almost impossible task as the duo eventually scored 78 goals between them that season.

In an almost like for like comparison to the first leg, the away side took the lead early on. Cantona had a shot on target within the first two minutes that Goram saved. The goal kick that followed was launched down the pitch onto the head of McCoist, who flicked it on to Hateley who was streaming forward. In a blink of an eye the ball was volleyed home past Lukic from around 18 yards out - there was nothing he could have done to save it and was powerless as the players celebrated scoring an important away goal. Hateley was at the peak of his powers and this surely stands as one of Rangers finest Champions League goals.

McCoist got in on the act on the hour mark; Hateley pushed forward down the left channel and crossed the ball, putting it on a plate for McCoist who nodded in a simple, yet effective, diving header to put the tie to bed.

Ally McCoist Diving header v Leeds United

The Battle of Britain - Part Two Leeds United vs Rangers 1992 ally mccoist diving header v leeds united

Rangers led 4-1 on aggregate and it was over. Leeds did score a consolation goal from Cantona with five minutes remaining, but it didn’t matter. The Battle between Scotland and England had been decided, a team from Scotland had a place in the group stages and the English champions were distraught. The media had written off Rangers before the start of the first leg and this was the perfect way to shut them up.

Leeds could not recover from the setback, finishing a lowly 17th in the league, missing relegation by a mere two points. Howard Wilkinson was sacked just four years later and arguably, Leeds, have never really recovered from the historic title winning season of 1991/1992.

Rangers were subsequently drawn in a group with Marseille, CSKA Moscow and Club Brugge, with only the winner of the group moving to the final. It was a tough task. The team performed admirably, not losing a game. It was the four draws that spoiled our chances of winning the group, however missing out to the eventual champions wasn’t something to be ashamed of.

There was a massive controversy though as Marseille were caught up in match fixing allegations and they were prevented from defending their title the following year. Many Rangers fans since have been thinking “what if?” It may have been a daunting task taking on Fabio Capello’s AC Milan side, but unfortunately we will never know the outcome.

Rangers did end the season on a high, winning their 5th domestic treble and almost making it to a Champions League final in what was the most memorable campaign in the 9 in a row era, without a shadow of a doubt.

The Battle of Britain - Part Two Leeds United vs Rangers 1992 walter smith

The Battle of Britain will go down in history as the first tie in the Champions League between England and Scotland. Ranger’s fans of a certain age will have no recollection of this tie, or even this season (myself included) but the anecdotes and memories are passed down from family and friends so that each supporter can relive the glory days. This is what makes football the beautiful game, certainly in my eyes anyway.

Written by Ross Kilvington (@Kilvington91)

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