Chelsea outclassed their hosts in a resounding second-half blitz, and will face Swansea City in the semi final
And that's that. Chelsea are through to the semi-finals of the Competition Formerly Known As The Milk Cup. Leeds were superb in the first half, but the cream rose to the top, just like it does with ... well, y'know. The draw's being made in a few minutes. Enough time to make yourself a cup of tea - don't forget a good splash of semi-skimmed - then discover who Chelsea will be playing in the New Year. I'll be back with news of the draw after the ads ...
And finally, after a ludicrous wait, Jamie Redknapp and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink make the draw. And here it is...
Chelsea v Swansea City
Bradford City v Aston Villa
Chelsea and Bradford will play at home for the first leg. If all goes to form in these semis, we'll get a rerun of the 2000 FA Cup final, officially the worst football match ever played. But Swansea and Bradford may have something to say about that. Right, I'm off, just enough time left for a hot milky beverage before bed.
90 min: Oscar diddles and dances down the right. He showcases wonderful skills. Green then waltzes over and clatters him in the throat like it's 1970 again, before wandering off with the ball, Oscar's face a portrait of genuine surprise. Cultures clashing, a moment of genuine comedy.
89 min: Chelsea are playing keepball now, just because they can. "The very thought of 10 pints of milk on a Friday night just curdles my stomach." Daniel Stauss the latest guy cracking wise.
86 min: Ferreira comes on for Mata, who has done enough damage for one evening. Robin Hazlehurst, meanwhile, has come up with a slogan for the Lager Marketing Board:
It gets you soused
And it's welcome in my house!
"It's OK, you can have the copyright on that one," he generously offers. "But your agent is probably not taking calls, he's probably in the pub like everyone else." I'd float the idea of us starting up a creative agency, Hazlehurst & Murray, but two surnames are rarely enough for an ad company's monicker (the Saatchis being the exception proving the rule). Maybe we could get Naylor to join in too? McMahon and Dunne as well? I get the impression they're not that busy.
Leeds have curdled. Mata dances down the left, then feeds Lampard, who lashes a shot towards the bottom left. Ashdown does brilliantly to parry, but the ball goes straight to Hazard, to the left of goal. He slides an immediate ball inside, allowing Torres to tap into an empty net.
82 min: "Leeds are clearly being milked dry now." Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for D Owen, aka The Weaver.
A corner for Leeds down the left. It doesn't clear the first man. Luiz springs clear down the right, then arrows a superlative low diagonal pass to release Hazard into the Leeds half down the inside left. Hazard reaches the box, draws Ashdown, and slots home into the bottom left. Elland Road begins to empty out.
78 min: Oscar twists to the left of the Leeds D and hammers a shot straight down Ashdown's throat. A general sense at Elland Road that this is all over bar the shouting. "For some reason the government up here wants to do something about Scotland's chronic alcohol problem," reports Simon McMahon. "The cheapest I can get a can of cooking lager at the moment is 50p. Yes, that's right. FIFTY PENCE! I mean, a pint of milk's all well and good, and welcome in my house anytime, but I don't fancy drinking 10 pints of it on a Friday night. Maybe the Lager Marketing Board should get onto this."
75 min: Tonge has a skelp from 25 yards. It's heading goalwards, but deflected out for a corner before it gets anywhere near troubling Cech. The corner ... well, life's too short, my heart's only programmed for so many beats, my fingers will only press so many keys.
74 min: Cole replaces Bertrand, who is suffering from some sort of knack. It's Cole's first appearance in the League (formerly Milk) Cup for three years.
73 min: A double change by Leeds: Norris and McCormack coming on for Brown and Diouf. "The USA's Got Milk" is hardly anything to boast about," brays Jon Wilde. "Any country with cows or goats has got milk. Sort your cheese out, mate." This is threatening to turn into an international incident. All I was trying to do was shift a few pints, with the health of the nation's kiddies uppermost in my mind. Maybe a couple of yoghurts as well. It's crazy how this has spiralled out of control, into the great Dairy War of 2012.
71 min: Hazard has a lash from the edge of the area, but Ashdown gathers without drama. "Yeah, sure, no problem," replies Simon McMahon, a response to my getting the begging bowl out on 47 minutes for a cuppa. "In fact, have 20p. Cheques in the post. Merry Christmas. Oh, and do you take milk?"
70 min: Bertrand is booked for a spot of mild nonsense by the centre circle. Is it too late for this to degenerate into a fancy fistfight?
68 min: A response from Neil Warnock, who swaps the tiring Thomas for White. "I don't know why but since I've started reading this match report; I really fancy a glass of cold milk," writes Luke Crane. If anyone from the Milk Marketing Board is reading, there's proof positive that the Cows/House slogan really works. It's the "Have a break, have a Kit-Kat" of its day. My agent is taking calls, I'm sure we can thrash out a royalty agreement.
They're really up against it now. The play restarts, and Chelsea are soon swarming upfield again. Mata, down the inside left channel, lays off to Moses, who takes a touch inside before blootering an unstoppable riser into the top left. Unless mid-table Championship side Leeds do something very special, Chelsea will be in the hat for the semi-final draw later this evening.
... the champions of Europe take the lead. And it's as simple as they come, the ball fired to the near post, where Ivanovic rushes in to bomb a header past Ashdown. Leeds are up against it now.
63 min: Chelsea are beginning to turn the screw now. First Lampard has a dig from distance, Ashdown doing very nicely considering the ball bounced just before him. Then Hazard whips a majestic ball along the corridor of uncertainty from the right. Leeds are forced to put the ball out of play on the left for a corner, from which ...
61 min: A free kick awarded to Leeds down the right. Green swings it into the mixer, but Luiz clears with a satisfying aural accompaniment: a soggy swish of his sodden hair.
60 min: Hazard comes on for Marin, who has been next to invisible for the most part. "Don't worry Scott," begins Robin Hazelhurst, who can sense my fevered brow through the medium of text alone. "If you can't sell 'It comes from cows, And it's welcome in my house' to the Milk Marketing Board, you could always try the Steak Marketing Board. There is one of those, right? Or the Specialist Leather Accessories Marketing Board, though you may want to downplay exactly whose house you're talking about."
58 min: Mata attempts to dance into the area down the inside-left channel, but can't quite keep hold of possession. Chelsea are soon coming straight back at Leeds, though, Azpilicueta making ground down the right and curling one onto the head of Torres at the far post. Torres powers a magnificent header goalwards, but unfortunately for the Spanish international it's straight at Ashdown, who manages to deflect the effort clear.
56 min: It's a really open game, this, but a strange one too, because nothing's really happening at present. A lot of pretty passing by both teams up until the final third, whereupon it all breaks down. "Come on Jon Wilde," parps Ryan Dunne. "The USA's 'Got Milk?' campaign is surely one of the most impressive mind contro ... er ... health promotions of recent times! And no wonder - if milk's good enough for Batman, Kermit and Rihanna it's good enough for me! Can't imagine those three drinking Skol or Carling, say." It's welcome in my house, too, Ryan. That applies equally to milk, Skol and Carling, but especially to milk. And various brands of cooking lager. But mainly milk.
54 min: Leeds are triangulating well in the middle of the park, but keep losing it whenever they press forward. Chelsea look perfectly happy to sit back, soak up whatever pressure comes their way, and spring forward when the opportunity presents itself. This is Rafaball.
50 min: Nothing too crazy to report at the moment, other than Leeds haven't let their heads drop at all. They've been enjoying plenty of the ball since the equaliser, pinging it around quite prettily. "Talking of things above the players head in your image, what's a half-drunk pint of MILK doing there?" wonders Gary Wraith, late to the pasteurized party we've got going on here. "Champagne makes sense, but milk? I don't think anyone in that bath was mixing milk with champers, or indeed were tee-total?" Perhaps they've been mixing up some White Russians. Is that a small polystyrene cup of vodka on the shelf at the back? That could be a small polystyrene cup of vodka on the shelf at the back, you know. Can you tell I'd like to be at the pub with the rest of the Guardian? Yes, I know, it's pathetic, isn't it.
47 min: Leeds respond well, Becchio finding a wee bit of space down the left, then whipping a high cross through the six-yard box. Diouf isn't far away from meeting it with his nut, coming in from the right, but he can't quite leap high enough. Elland Road has gone a wee bit quiet, the wind taken out of the home support after that sucker punch. "Only a matter of time before the MBM gets a sponsor, isn't it?" writes Simon McMahon. "Possibly an alcohol or gambling addiction service?" So long as they're a going concern and put some bread on the MBM table, I'll happily shill for anyone. Though the way things are going, we'll probably sign a deal with Woolworths. Or Zavvi. Or Safeway. You couldn't spare 10p for a cup of tea, Simon, could you?
Chelsea ping it about for a minute or so. The ball ends up at the feet of Moses, with his back to goal on the left-hand edge of the Leeds D. He lays off to Mata, who sidefoots towards the bottom-left corner. Ashdown should stop it - there's not a great deal of pace on the shot - but doesn't, letting his hand flap back like a saloon door. The ball rolls apologetically into the net. Ashdown has the good grace to look thoroughly ashamed.
No changes at half-time: Rafa went into the tunnel with a face on, and he's still wearing it as he re-emerges. Leeds give the ball away straight from the kick-off, but no damage is done. "Oops," begins the tinder-dry Mike Shallcross, with reference to the scoreline, I'll be bound. "Here's hoping the Chelsea fans have brought a pile of black felt tips and sheets of A4 from which then can fashion some of their distinctively diminutive and uniquely Bauhaus 'Rafa Out' banners during the break." Knock the limitations of the design all you like, but you remembered the slogan, didn't you. And I bet you can recall what's welcome in my house, too. That's the power of advertising, the power of the poster.
Chelsea win a free kick 30 yards out. Lampard, rather outrageously, looks for the bottom right corner, and in the greasy conditions it nearly pays off, Ashdown making a real song and dance of parrying it, but stopping the ball going in nonetheless. And that's the last action of the half. Leeds are cheered off. Only 45 minutes between them and another famous victory, one that'd be up there with their win at Old Trafford in the cup a couple of years ago.
45 min: Leeds bag themselves a corner down the left. From it, Diouf shimmies and shakes, then swings a delicious ball onto the head of Lees, eight yards out. The central defender should really hit the target at least, but his effort flies over. That was a chance to really give the European champions something to think about. "No point advertising milk any road," harumphs Jon Wilde. "You either drink it or you don't. No-one is ever going to look at an advert for milk and think: Milk. Hmmm. Hadn't thought of that." Well, thank you very much, there go my plans of selling the following slogan to the Milk Marketing Board for ££££££££££s:
It comes from cows
And it's welcome in my house.
43 min: Moses makes good into the area down the inside-left, having been flicked clear by a clever reverse pass from Torres. He draws Ashdown before stroking the ball into the bottom right, but all the effort's for naught, because Torres was deemed to have got involved from an offside position, and the linesman's waving his flag in the appropriate manner.
40 min: The Leeds fans are making predictions about Rafael Benitez's employment status come midday tomorrow, via the medium of song. Lampard tries to do something about it with a low fizzer from distance, but his effort, curling towards the bottom left, is easily parried by Ashdown. "That's Peter Bonetti, with the cup hovering above his head, isn't it?" spots Steven Hughes. "If only he knew what fate had in store for him, in that infamous West Germany game that was only a few weeks away, he wouldn't be laughing. That's a melancholy picture that's the football equivalent of watching film of JFK and Jackie happily waving to the crowds in Texas."
Luiz tries to release Mata down the inside-left channel, but his dink is cut out brilliantly by Byram, who sets Leeds on the counter. Chelsea have committed men forward, and are suddenly light at the back. Thomas is sprung clear down the left. He zips through the yards towards the area, and swings a low ball into the box, where the onrushing Becchio leans back and guides a low shot into the bottom left. What a lovely goal on the break, and a magnificent finish. Chelsea have been the better side up until now, but look at what's brewing here all of a sudden!
34 min: Half a chance at either end within a minute. First Diouf, down the left, stands one up to the far post, where Green is causing bother with his mere presence. Green can't quite get any purchase on the ball, though, and the ball wafts towards Cech. Seconds later, Ivanovic is invited into acres of space down the inside-right channel, and takes the opportunity to have a blast from distance. His effort rises and sails just over the crossbar. A very decent hoick.
31 min: Another corner for Chelsea now, the champions of England enjoying the majority of possession. The ball's sent in, and immediately cleared, but soon Marin comes dancing back down the right. He's not far from finding the forehead of Torres, ten yards out, but Lees steps in to slam a clearing header upfield. "On the subject of milk, I think you mean: 'Littlewoods and Rumbelows? Oo ar dey? Ekzackerly.'," quips Robin Hazlehurst, who's breaking all our style guidelines for regional accents. Naughty Robin! The readers editor will be round to tan my hide in double-quick time. I hope he's at the pub. Everyone else is at the pub, so there's a fair chance.
29 min: Pearce slides Becchio away down the left. Oscar does well to track back. Corner to Leeds. Within ten seconds of it being swung towards the near post, the ball's been shuttled cravenly back to Ashdown. The home fans aren't happy. "Isn't it nice of that nice Neil Warnock, having deigned to shake the hand of Benitez, to contribute further to spirit of the season and to dampen the florid history of this fixture by choosing such controversy-shy players as Brown and Diouf?" asks Lou Roper. And yet would you really have him any other way?
26 min: Chelsea are turning the screw a wee bit now. Mata dances down the inside right channel and looks for the top left. His effort is deflected out for another corner, and once again the set piece is a waste of effort. "Were there different brands of milk back in those Milk Cup days?" wonders Eoghan O' Sullivan. "Or did all the companies just agree to go in on it together? You wouldn't get that now. Imagine the Beer Cup instead of the Heineken Cup and the Banks' Premier League instead of Barclays. Not a chance." As usual, Viz was miles ahead of the curve here, with the perimeter advertising at Fulchester United: DRINK BEER, SMOKE TABS.
23 min: A few seconds of Chelsea pressure. First Brown leans on Moses as the Chelsea winger enters the area down the centre. Moses falls to the ground. That would have been a soft penalty, but Leeds couldn't have moaned too much if it were given. Leeds fail to clear the ball, and in another phase Moses turns neatly on the edge of the D and sends a shot fizzing towards the bottom right. Ashdown is behind it all the way, pushing the ball round the post for a corner. The set piece comes to nothing. This game hasn't quite taken off yet, but it's been diverting enough, with both sides doing their bit.
22 min: "The most amazing thing about the 1970 final replay was the way everyone took their medicine without complaint," sighs Tom Shaw, neither of us getting any younger. "No surrounding the referee or imaginary cards, no managers squabbling on the touchline, they just picked themselves up and waited for the opportunity for revenge. In a perverse way it was one of the best matches I've ever seen, second only to Chile/Italy in 1962." Yep. It's a shame how garden-variety violence and low-level thuggery has fallen out of fashion, despite Marouane Fellaini's best efforts. Just so long as nobody gets seriously hurt, it's all good family entertainment. Oh hold on! Mata's just cheekily pushed Brown in the phizog! A bit of off-the-ball sauce there. Mata looks suitably highly amused with himself. Brown, to his great credit, doesn't moan, although in fairness that's hard to do when a trainer's got his wet sponge in your boat.
19 min: Oscar should be booked for a late clip on Brown, who was looking to make good down the inside-left channel, but the referee makes do with a pompous finger-wag. A long free kick into the area is won by Pearce, whose five-out-of-ten header drifts at medium pace wide right of the target.
16 min: It's pinball time in the Leeds box, Marin scampering down the right and sending a cross in, the ball clattering off a confused Lampard and nearly falling to an equally muddled Torres. It eventually goes out of play, wide of the left-hand flipper.
15 min: Lampard is booked for a ludicrous late scythe on Diouf, coming in from behind and chipping the Leeds player miles into the air, the sort of dainty lob wedge more commonly associated with Phil Mickelson. He can have no complaints whatsoever, and though he moans at the referee anyway, he does so without much conviction.
13 min: A lull, allowing the camera to zoom in on outgoing Leeds head honcho, and erstwhile Chelsea supremo, Ken Bates. For the record, he's still got a voluminous white beard, and a massive grin plastered right across his smug coupon.
10 min: Not much happening at the top end for Leeds yet. Ah, hold on. Green gets a yard or two on the Chelsea defence as he scampers after a header from Diouf down the inside right. He can't get a ball into the danger area, and checks back. Leeds hold onto the ball awhile, causing the mists to descend on Lampard, who concedes a free kick wide on the right touchline. Green swings one towards the far post, grazing the head of a team-mate, but not doing too much damage. That's better, and will give the home team succour.
7 min: Moses is sent skittering clear into the Leeds area down the inside left. He's one on one with Ashdown, albeit at a tight-ish angle. He aims for the bottom left, and the keeper's behind it all the way, parrying round the post. The resulting corner isn't worth fussing over. "When did footballers stop drinking milk after cup finals and who decided that milk was no longer welcome?" wonders Jon Wilde. If the sponsorship history of this competition is any guide, perhaps it was Littlewoods. And then along came Rumbelows to put the boot in. But then where are Littlewoods and Rumbelows now? Not on the nation's high streets, that's for sure. There's a lesson to be learned here. But what is it? Don't mess with milk? It can't be that. Drink your milk, kids? That'll do. Drink your milk.
4 min: Brown, Tonge and Diouf all put themselves about a bit down the inside-left channel, eventually releasing Thomas into the area. He reaches the byline and dinks the ball across, but Cech is able to saunter towards the ball with signal insouciance, and pluck it from the air. Still, a lively enough start by both teams, who clearly have no intention of going to the grave wondering.
3 min: Chelsea are quickly down the other end of the pitch. A bit of space for Moses down the right. He crosses into the area towards Torres, but the ball hits a Chelsea hand and the chance is gone.
Leeds are on the front foot almost immediately. A minute in, and Chelsea have hardly touched the ball. Eventually Luiz latches onto a loose pass in the middle of the pitch and guides the ball back to Cech, allowing the visitors to settle.
BREAKING HANDSHAKE NEWS!!! Neil Warnock comes over to the Chelsea bench and shakes Rafa Benitez's hand, the two exchanging warm smiles. All that build-up, and for what? It's almost as though sports news is a complete waste of time.
The teams are out! Leeds are in their traditional (since 1961) all-white strip, while Chelsea are in their equally traditional (only since 1920, so let's not get too ahead of ourselves) all-blue garb. It's Leeds versus Chelsea, folks! Leeds versus Chelsea! This could provide us with fantastic entertainment, one way or t'other. A few goals, a rollercoaster narrative, or a bench-emptying brawl; I'm easy whatever, really. There's a blistering atmosphere at Elland Road, with rain coming down in stair rods. So having built the game up thus, our first email of the night comes from someone at the panto, or something. It's our old pal Gary Naylor, ladies and gentlemen. "I'm sitting underneath a chandelier a row behind Graham Norton for some cabaret on the South Bank," runs a report detailing the minutiae of his existence, Naylor having mistaken this MBM for Twitter. "You don't get that at Elland Road - though you might soon at Stamford Bridge." Seasonal satire, folks. He's here all week, try the glühwein.
Leeds United make three changes to their side from the one which beat Ipswich 2-0 at the weekend, with cup keeper Jamie Ashdown starting in place of Paddy Kenny, and Jason Pearce and Michael Brown coming in for Alan Tate and David Norris: Ashdown, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Peltier, Green, Brown, Tonge, Thomas, Diouf, Becchio.
Subs: Kenny, Varney, White, Norris, Gray, Somma, McCormack.
Back from playing a lot of ten-pin bowling in Japan ... it's Chelsea! And seven players who started their doomed World Club Cup match with Corinthians on Sunday are in the XI again tonight: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Bertrand, Lampard, Oscar, Marin, Mata, Moses, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Hazard, Ferreira, Piazon, Saville, Ake.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands). Mr Marriner isn't shy of getting the yellow card out - he's booked 46 players in 13 games so far this season - but hasn't flashed the red yet. So, then, Leeds United versus Chelsea ...
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when this particular rivalry kicked in. Sometime during the mid 1960s, that's for sure, when the stars of Don Revie and Tommy Docherty were both rising, their sides challenging for honours but never quite winning any of them, the frustration of falling at the final or penultimate hurdle often spilling over into impotent but venomous rage. The teams often met at crucial times in both league and cup, when instead of playing association football matches, they would stage meditations on modern society's nihilistic plunge into a dystopian abyss. To realise just how hard-fought those games were, one could consider the sort of nonsense that went on: tackles were high, noses were punched, legs were bent, ankles were twisted, feet were stamped on, faces were kicked, stretcher-bearers were worked off their feet, grudges were held. Or we could simply list some of the players involved over the years: Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter, Ron Harris, Johnny Giles, Peter Osgood, Bobby Collins, Eddie McCreadie, Jack Charlton, John Dempsey, Paul Reaney. Yes, simply listing some of the players involved might do it.
The rivalry was preserved in amber forever by one of the most appalling, yet strangely beautiful and beguiling, matches in English football history: the replay of the 1970 FA Cup final. Much has been written about this hullabaloo over the subsequent 42 years: Chopper Harris maiming Eddie Gray, Big Jack planting the head on Osgood, McCreadie showcasing his Bruce Lee moves on Bremner. David Elleray's retrospective reffing of the game has become famous: he'd have shown 20 yellow cards and sent off six players, though only one man - Ian Hutchinson - was booked by lassiez-faire official Eric Jennings over the entire 240 minutes of the piece. But perhaps the greatest single act of the game came a couple of minutes after Harris's infamous game-reducing foul on Gray. Committed just before half time, the Leeds winger stationed himself out on the left wing, waiting for the whistle and some proper treatment in the dressing room. Sadly, he was sent a hospital pass by Giles. Gray reluctantly went to hoick the ball up the wing to avoid getting too involved. But the die was cast. Hutchinson took the opportunity to slide in and clatter Gray, who having been recently seriously injured, took grave exception. As he fell through the air, he readjusted himself and stamped on the prone Hutchinson's leg. Hutchinson, failing to register that eye-for-eye justice had been fairly meted out, sprang up and punched Gray squarely on the tip of his front tail.
Old football, eh? You have to love it.
All of which makes tonight's pre-match grudging look decidedly low-rent. Not least because it's mainly about Sheffield United and Liverpool. Leeds boss Neil Warnock has the full-blown radge with his Chelsea counterpart Rafael Benitez, for some perceived team-picking slight back in the day, a weak Liverpool selection supposedly relegating the Blades, and might not shake his hand as a result. I wonder what Bremner and Osgood would think of this?
Anyway, this is for a place in the semi-final of the League Cup, another massive crunch tie between the two clubs. Their circumstances may have changed since the heady days of the late 1960s, but the passions will still be aflame. Especially as the pair haven't met for over eight years, since a Jesper Gronkjaer goal was enough to decide a Premiership game at Stamford Bridge. Their last meeting in the League Cup, here at Elland Road, saw Chelsea grab the spoils, Eidur Gudjohnsen scoring both goals in a 2-0 win, so the form book (such as it is) certainly calls a Chelsea win. But while the European champions are hot favourites on paper against Championship opposition, they'll be knackered after a week in Japan playing ten-pin bowling, while Leeds have won four of their last six and have already put Premier League clubs Everton and Southampton out of this competition. It is on! Which is a phrase your tired old MBM hack often uses, but it really does apply this time: IT IS ON!
Modern society's latest nihilistic plunge into a dystopian abyss takes place at: 7.45pm
While waiting for modern society's latest nihilistic plunge into a dystopian abyss, please read: The peerless Rob Bagchi, who has more, more, more on the Leeds-Chelsea rivalry ...