PABLO HERNANDEZ described Leeds United’s victory over Ipswich Town as their most important of the season yet - and insisted the winning goal was not a fluke.
Leeds held onto first place in the Championship on Saturday after a mistake by Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski handed the club their sixth win from nine league games.
Bialkowski fumbled a corner from Hernandez in the 69th minute at Elland Road, dropping the ball and falling foul of goalline technology which was introduced by the EFL across the Championship at the start of this season.
The blunder, which was officially recorded as a Bialkowski own goal, gave Leeds a 3-1 advantage and Thomas Christiansen’s side held out in the face of late pressure and a goal from Joe Garner to move onto 20 points.
Hernandez said: “I tried because I watched the goalkeeper and his position wasn’t good. He was two or three metres off his line so I tried to shoot.
“The ref told me it’s an own goal but it’s not important. The important thing for me is that the ball went in and it helped us win the game.”
Ipswich were two points behind Leeds with a game in hand before kick-off, edged into early contention by a strong start to the season, and United’s victory over Mick McCarthy’s side was a shot in the arm ahead of trips to Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday this week.
Asked if Saturday’s win was their biggest of the campaign so far, Hernandez said: “Yes because it was against a team that is fighting with us to go to the top of the table.
“It wasn’t the best performance but the team worked and gave 100 per cent on the pitch. That’s important if we’re going to win games.
“Last season everyone knows we fought all season to stay in the play-offs and in the last moment we lost that position. Now it’s a new season and new year and so many things have changed in the club. We are on the right line.”
United, whose only defeat came in their previous league game at Millwall, went 32 years without a win in Cardiff following a 1-0 victory there in 1984 but the Elland Road club have taken three points from both of their last two visits to the Welsh capital.
Hernandez, a former Swansea City player, scored the second goal in a 2-0 success last September but the midfielder said Cardiff’s strong start under Neil Warnock would serve up a more difficult test tomorrow.
Cardiff and Wolverhampton Wanderers are level with Leeds on points and behind Christiansen’s side on goal difference alone.
Hernandez said: “There are good memories but now it is totally different. Cardiff are having a good season and have started really strong. They are a good team and playing at home so it’s a very difficult game for us. We will try to get three points.
“Other teams know our tactics and try to contrast it. They work in the week to try to stop our football so the most important thing is in the bad moments we are all together and stay strong. This is the way to win games.”