Looking back at a classic between Rangers and Leeds United…
October and November 1992 and a Battle of Britain to rival any before or since as Leeds United faced Rangers in the first official season of the Champions League. Back then it was two rounds of knockout football, and then onto a two-group stage with the winners of each group progressing to the final, but it was still a radical departure from home and away legs for four pulsating rounds before a one off final match in the former ‘European Cup’ which had been the case for the top club tournament since the mid to late 1950’s.
The English Premier League was in its infancy and the Scottish Premier League was not yet 20 years old and the difference in finances between the top leagues in England and Scotland was certainly nowhere near where it is today.
In many ways Rangers were the big spenders, as they were on an unstoppable march to nine League titles in a row, which was only halted by bitter rivals Celtic in 1998.
Chairman David Murray was splashing the cash but Leeds were still favourites for the aggregate win against the Gers and were fully expected to take a draw, if not the win, in the first leg in Glasgow according to the tabloid sports pages in the south.
Two Scots combined to give the visitors a not unexpected lead when Gordon Strachan’s corner came out to Gary McAllister who rifled the ball past Andy Goram in front of a rocking 43,251 attendance. Yellow0shirted Leeds (their second spell with legendary kit-maker Admiral) looked confident but it was the man in the Leeds goalkeeper shirt who would hand Rangers an equaliser before half-time, when John Lukic punched Ian Durrant’s corner into his own net.
All to play for then and it was to be the home side who grabbed the winner when a corner on the opposite side saw Mark Hateley’s header palmed down by Lukic into the path of Ally McCoist and he made no mistake from a couple of yards out. Once again the English press had Leeds stick on favourites to overturn the deficit in the second leg but McCoist and Hateley would strike again with a goal apiece to have Rangers 4-1 ahead on aggregate before a consolation goal from the emerging Eric Cantona made it 2-1 Rangers, resplendent in Adidas, on the night and 4-2 overall in front of an Elland Road crowd of just over 25,000.
Leeds had beaten the Gers 2-0 on aggregate in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup of 1968, so revenge was sweet for the Ibrox giants and they would end up just being pipped by Marseille for a place in the final against AC Milan.
While Leeds have slipped from the top flight down south, Rangers no longer dominate north of the border. But in 92, it was all so different in a cup tie that ranks with the best of them before the inception of the Champions League.