Leeds United 4 West Brom 0: Tyler Roberts hails 'fight and fire' as Whites throw down gauntlet to Canaries and Blades
MAN OF THE MATCH Tyler Roberts says Leeds United have thrown down the gauntlet to promotion rivals Norwich City and Sheffield United by showing "fight and fire" to blitz West Brom and move top of the division.
United approached Friday night's Elland Road showdown against fourth-placed West Brom having fallen to a disappointing 1-0 defeat in Tuesday night's game in hand at out-of-form Queens Park Rangers.
The Loftus Road setback left the Whites third but Leeds rocketed back to the top of the Championship as a stunning effort from Pablo Hernandez after just 16 seconds set the tone for a hugely impressive 4-0 triumph against the Baggies in which a brace from Patrick Bamford was followed by a late strike from Gjanni Alioski.
Leeds are now one point ahead of second-placed Norwich City who visit Millwall on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off with third-placed Sheffield United now three points behind the Whites in third ahead of Monday night's Steel City derby at Sheffield Wednesday.
Friday night's victory also significantly improved United's goal difference which is now only three goals worse than Norwich's and four behind Sheffield United's, albeit having played a game more.
"Of course we are just focusing on ourselves but getting to this stage of the season when it's quite tight at the top, you need to win these sorts of games," said Roberts, reflecting on the fact that West Brom are also now seven points behind in fourth.
"We played on Friday so the other teams this weekend have got to make sure that they win their games but it's just a great feeling to get the three points."
Assessing whether or not Friday night's romp was United's best performance of the season, Roberts said: "I think it's up there.
"I think it's a different type of performance because of the loss on Tuesday and the fight and fire that we showed was exceptional. I think that shows what we are about as a team.
"We knew that we had another game on Friday so we just picked ourselves up and it showed in the performance that we are not going to dwell on our results."
Roberts also hailed the loyalty shown by Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa and the support of United's fans.
Bielsa kept the faith with the entire same starting XI despite Tuesday night's defeat at Loftus Road with the 63-year-old rewarded with a spine-tingling victory in front of 35,888 fans at a packed Elland Road.
"Of course it was nice for all of us to stay in the team after a loss but that just shows the confidence he has in us and we repay that with the hard work that we give every day," said Roberts.
Of course the gaffer was upset after QPR and it was a poor result from us and a poor game.
"But everyone was upset really. Everyone has been angry with the performance that we had the other day. We just knew that we needed to put that anger into the spirit that we showed."
Reflecting on the sensational atmosphere at Elland Road - described by injured striker Kemar Roofe as "like a party in the stands" - Roberts said: "It was crazy. Obviously I think all the team would love to thank all the fans at Elland Road and their away trips in supporting us. It really does help. It is like our 12th man."