Date: Wednesday, 13th November 1968.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Second Round, First Leg.
United 2 SSC Napoli 0
United: Charlton (2). SSC Napoli:
Leeds United: Sprake;
Reaney, Madeley; Bremner, Charlton, Hunter; O’Grady, Jones, Belfitt, Giles, Lorimer.
SSC Napoli: Zoff; Nardin, Panzanato; Stenti, Guameri, Zurlini; Altafini, Juliano, Nielson (Sala), Sivori, Barlson.
Napoli had a reputation for being
a hard side, but their strong-arm tactics could not prevent United from
building a 2-0 First Leg lead at Elland Road thanks
to a couple of Jack Charlton headers. The Italians, who had knocked out the
Swiss club Grasshoppers in the previous round, were not in the best of form. They
had dual Internationals Jose Altafini (Brazil)
and Omar Sivori (Argentina),
who both also played for Italy,
in their team. Altafini was 30 and Sivori 33 but both were still fine players. Sivori, and his trademark socks rolled down to his ankles
relying on his skill rather than shin pads, had formed a brilliant partnership
with John Charles as Juventus won the Italian
Championship in 1958, 1960 and 1961 and the Italian Cup in 1959 and 1960.
Danish International Harald Nielson, who had
previously faced United when with Bologna
and Italian Internationals Dino Zoff, Antonio Juliano and Claudio Sala were
also in an impressive line-up.
Napoli had lost 2-1 at Bologna in
the Serie A on the Sunday before the Elland Road encounter and were in dispute with their star
forward Enrique Sivori over his lack of fitness.
However, the Napoli coach Guiseppe Chiapelle knew he would
need Sivori against a side as powerful as Leeds.
As it turned out Sivori was rarely seen as Leeds
dominated the game. United played some fast linking and constantly varied
football, particularly in the first quarter of the game, and only a purely
instinctive save by the talented international goalkeeper Dino Zoff prevented Mick Jones, who was wearing the unfamiliar
No. 8 shirt, from putting United ahead after just two minutes play.
Jones and his strike partner Rod Belfitt ran the
Italian defence ragged and the hard working Jones had two ‘goals’ disallowed
for what must have been hairline off-side decisions. There was a further
surprise for the United centre-forward when he got an
undoubted thump in the face from a Napoli
defender as he was singled out for some rough treatment by the Napoli defence. Jones and Belfitt
received good support from Mike O’Grady who was a constant source of menace on
the right wing and with the Naples defence preoccupied with Jones Jack Charlton
was given too much freedom in his upfield sorties and
it was he who opened the scoring for United after twenty-three minutes as he
headed home a Billy Bremner free-kick and just two
minutes later added a second as he headed in an in-swinging Johnny Giles
Captain Billy Bremner, who was carrying a back
injury, was his usual inspirational self in midfield as United battled in vain
to get the vital third goal which would have effectively killed off the
Neapolitan threat for the tie, and United had to be content with a 2-0 home victory.
That was how the first leg finished and afterwards, Napoli’s general
manager Dr Salvatore de Caro admitted their defenders had been fooled by the
goal-scoring instincts of United’s central defender.
“Charlton took us by surprise, but he won’t do so again. We controlled him for
three-quarters of the match after his two goals”, he said.
United, while happy to have opened up a two-goal lead, were, however, more
concerned with one or two nasty incidents that had occurred during the game. “Napoli played some good clean football but
some of their players resorted to things which upset me” Revie
said. “Some of my players said they had fingers poked in their eyes and faces
in scrambles, and then there was the punch in the face Jones took and some
other unsavoury moments.” He added, “If we lose our lead in Naples
we will deserve to be beat”, but feared more tough tactics would be in store
from the Italians, both on and off the pitch.
Dino Zoff saves from Rod Belfitt
Jack Charlton heads the second goal
Jack Charlton celebrates his second goal
Altafini and Omar Sivori
John Charles and Omar Sivori