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Leeds United constantly impressed throughout the 2000/01 Champions League tournament.
Leeds drew Barcelona, AC Milan and Besiktas in an extremely tough group in the first stage of the tournament.
Their first six matches were littered with fine performances and memorable results.
They didn’t start the tournament in the best way, being well beaten by Barcelona 4-0 at the Nou Camp.
The first sign of big things to come from Leeds was a 1-0 win at home to Milan in tense fashion when midfielder Lee Bowyer scored a last-minute winner to give Leeds their first three points of the tournament.
They followed that result with a 6-0 thumping of Besiktas at home, then going to Turkey and earning a hard-fought 0-0 draw.
Leeds then had to face Barcelona at home followed by a trip to the San Siro to face Milan. A 0-0 draw in the Barcelona game left Leeds needing a point to qualify from the group. Dominic Matteo’s goal for Leeds on the stroke of halftime gave them the lead, Milan clawed one back through Serginho, but Leeds held on to qualify ahead of the Spanish giants Barcelona.
The second group stage saw them face of Real Madrid, Lazio and Anderlecht.
The first two games started off the same way as the first group stage, with a loss to the Spanish side and a 1-0 win over the Italian side. The next two games were home an away to Anderlecht, which Leeds came away with the maximum six points.
Leeds put Europe on lookout with their next performance. Although losing out 3-2 to Real Madrid at the Bernabau, they showed they were ready to compete with the big boys of the competition.
They went into the final game in the same fashion as the first group stage, needing a draw against the Italian giants to secure progression into the next stage. Leeds and Lazio played out a fantastic match with the score ending three apiece, sending the Lilywhites through.
Leeds drew Deportivo La Coruna in the quarterfinals and made a push for the final with a 3-0 home win courtesy of goals from Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Rio Ferdinand.
It was a nerve-wracking second leg for Lilywhite fans; with the tie looking to be theirs before kickoff, Deportivo pulled back two goals and with 10 minutes left, and you could cut the tension with a knife. Leeds managed to hold on and won the tie 3-2 on aggregate.
In the semifinal, Leeds was the only English team left in the tournament, and they were made to play another Spanish giant, this time Valencia. The first leg was a fiercely contested match, but no one could find the net, with the match finishing 0-0.
The atmosphere was buzzing at the Estádio Metsalla for the second leg of the tie, and there was a real feeling around the ground that Leeds may upset the odds and gain a place in the final.
Leeds was outplayed by a classy Valencia outfit that ran out 3-0 winners on the day. Leeds will rue the missed chances that came their way through the two legs and the chance to play in the Champions League final.
Valencia went on to play Bayern Munich in the final, losing out on penalties.