Grasshoppers lose to depleted Leeds
Grasshoppers Zurich have lost in the home leg of their third round UEFA Cup tie against England's Leeds United, 1-2.
The locals got off to a good start on Thursday, when veteran Swiss international striker, Stéphane Chapuisat, opened the scoring in the 18th minute from 25 metres out.
Grasshoppers, feeding off this first goal, kept the pressure up for the rest of the first half. Richard Nunez saw a free kick turned away by Leeds' goalkeeeper, Nigel Martyn, 12 minutes before half time.
With rain pouring down, Leeds did have a chance to level the score in the 27th minute, when Alan Smith netted the ball. Unfortunately for the English, the goal was ruled offside.
Grasshoppers resumed play where they had left off, forcing Martyn to stop three good shots from the locals.
The Zurich team's best chance came when Nunez was brought down after 68 minutes in the penalty box by Leeds' captain, Rio Ferdinand. Martyn fended off the Uruguayan's weak kick before knocking away Ricardo Cabanas' rebound shot.
Grasshoppers were to rue this missed opportunity, as Ian Harte levelled the score at the opposite end just five minutes later with a free kick over the defensive wall. With 11 minutes left to play, Smith pushed the ball over the line to make it 1-2 for the visitors.
The win ended a run of five European away losses for Leeds. It also came as coach David O'Leary had only 15 players to choose from for the match, with two of his key elements away on international duty for Australia and a number of others injured.
Qualification for the next round now looks like an impossible task for Grasshoppers, with the return match to be held on December 6 in England.
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