A rock-solid display from Leeds United AFC ensured PSV Eindhoven were held to a goalless draw in the first leg of their UEFA Cup fourth-round tie.
Hosts PSV dominated the early exchanges at the Philips stadium with Leeds goalkeeper Nigel Martyn called into action after only four minutes: Mark van Bommel's stinging drive was brilliantly parried by the Leeds No1, who was also forced to tip over from close range.
Smith so close twice
After coping with the early pressure, Leeds began to create some clear-cut chances of their own, the best of them falling on 20 minutes to the impish Alan Smith who was just beaten to the ball by a PSV defender after Mark Viduka had floated in a wonderful pass. Two minutes later Smith chipped Patrick Lodewijks, only to see his goalbound effort acrobatically cleared off the line by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
PSV started the second half brightly but for all their pressure Martyn did not have a save of note to make as the visiting defence coped admirably with all that was thrown at them. David O'Leary's men dominated the remainder of the second half with midfield dynamo Lee Bowyer going close on 70 minutes after great work from the bright Harry Kewell, but his well-struck shot lacked the desired accuracy.
'So tough to break down'
As the match drew to a close, the home side grew increasingly frustrated at their inability to break down a staunch Leeds rearguard and the game became bogged down by a succession of ill-tempered tackles. PSV coach Eric Gerets was quick to point out how frustrating the game had been for his side: "They were exceptional at the back and it was so tough to break them down," commented the former Belgian international, who knows a thing or two about defending himself.
Meanwhile, Leeds manager David O'Leary was glad that his side's injury-plagued days are now well and truly over. "I'm pleased that I could put out the team I wanted," he said. "We created chances but didn't take them. I expected us to get a good result tonight given the players I had at my disposal."
Leeds defender Rio Ferdinand was also pleased, claiming that the Yorkshire outfit had the better chances and could even have sneaked a win. "This result can resurrect our season and on balance we had the chances to win," he said.
Never stopped battling
Ferdinand's words were echoed by Viduka who, along with strike partner Smith, never stopped battling all night. "We haven't played this well in a long time," the Australian international said. Nevertheless, despite a good performance, Leeds will be all too wary in the second leg ;against a side with as much attacking potential as PSV.