Burnley 0-4 Leeds United - Off-camera moments on a good day for Whites trio and a bad day for former Elland Road man
Leeds United are burning bright, not burning out, as the Premier League season winds to a close.
The Whites were full of energy and great football in the second
So this is who he is. From the minute he entered the pitch Rodrigo added zip to the Leeds United attack. His little flick in the middle of the park kept a flowing move heading forward and his movement was fantastic. Burnley s central defenders couldn't cope as he darted here and there, giving Jack Harrison an option to hit on at least four occasions. Two of those resulted in goals that were brilliantly taken. More of the same on Tuesday or next Saturday and he will have given Luis Enrique plenty to think about for his European Championship selection process.
Finally. Klich curling in a beautiful shot from just outside the area was a sight Leeds fans came to expect thanks to his 2018/19 goalscoring exploits. Last season the goals did not flow as freely and after a bright start to life in the Premier League, hitting the net in both of the opening two games, they have been hard to come by for the Polish midfielder. Before Burnley his last came in December in the defeat to West Ham. Form wise, Klich has been up and down during the campaign. A dip was perhaps to be expected at some point given his remarkable consistency for the previous two seasons, but against Spurs and the Clarets he looked much more like himself. Besides the goal, the little passes he exchanges to help Leeds play their football in tight spaces and the hard yards to get back and defend or pressure the ball were important. But you could tell the goal meant a lot. It was needed.
End product galore. The life of a winger can often be a frustrating one, sprinting up and down the flank and either struggling to deliver with the necessary quality or watching strikers waste great crosses. Harrison put in all the required work to get up and down for Leeds at Burnley but crucially was able to make things happen in the final third in devastating fashion. His little flick to redirect a Gjanni Alioski shot into the net was brilliant, his pass for Rodrigo's first showed vision and the ball into the Spaniard's path for the final goal was perfect. Like Klich, Harrison has experienced little dips in form but overall has contributed superbly to Leeds' season. Eight goals and eight assists is a magnificent return. He's still only 24, too.
Every player wants to do well against their former club but this was a reunion to forget for the Northern Irish international. Peacock-Farrell knew all too well what Mateusz Klich can do from distance but was powerless to stop the opening goal. There wasn't a lot he could do about the second, from Harrison, either. The third and fourth just heaped on the misery, Rodrigo first dinking it over the onrushing keeper and then taking the ball round him. Burnley's defence offered little protection in that devastating little spell towards the end of the game. It has not been an easy season for the man who left Elland Road seeking first team football. Behind Nick Pope in the pecking order, he's had just four starts and Burnley have lost all of them, shipping 14 goals in the process. Yesterday might have stung a little more than any of the others.
As much as he will have enjoyed watching his team-mates put Burnley to the sword from his vantage point at the very back of the James Hargreaves Stand, the experience must have held some frustration. His return from knee surgery has been carefully managed by Leeds and starts against Brighton and Spurs, albeit in the defensive midfield role instead of his natural and preferred centre-back position, allowed him to remind everyone of the player who started the season so impressively. Leeds were being cautious leaving him out due to a minor hip injury - he could have played - so it's not all doom and gloom but you can bet he's itching to play as many minutes as possible as the season comes to a close. With Pascal Struijk and Diego Llorente in such good form and Kalvin Phillips back fit and firing on all cylinders, it might be a difficult task for the German international.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
Unlucky for some, but not Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa's side have scored 13 goals from outside the box this season, more than any other Premier League side. What's remarkable about that is the number of times a Leeds player could perhaps have pulled the trigger from distance during the campaign, before opting to keep possession and passing to a team-mate. It shows not only how much patience and thought goes into the construction of attacks but how often they find themselves in good attacking positions. This season has brought some lovely goals from all kinds of situations and positions. All that's missing is a 40-yarder and maybe an over-head kick.
The introduction of Rodrigo had a dramatic impact on the game, coupled with the fact that Burnley had to do more attacking to try and get back into the game. The Spaniard played a nice part in an attack within seconds of replacing Patrick Bamford and that move led to a corner from which the visitors made it 2-0. After that it was the Rodrigo show. Another one for Bielsa's collection of game-changing interventions.
OFF CAMERA MOMENTS
Luke Ayling's verbal output is something that will be lost when crowds make their long-awaited and necessary return, but it has often been a joy to experience. Yesterday, among his chats with former team-mate Chris Wood, he playfully suggested to referee Graham Scott that he hadn't penalised a Burnley challenge because he was scared of them. They are a big bunch of lads, after all. Rarely a game goes by that Ayling doesn't maintain a steady dialogue with the officials, who must relish it.
There was more than a little niggle in the game throughout and Burnley evidently felt that Leeds players were making too much of certain challenges. But Diego Llorente being told to get up after James Tarkowski caught him in the back with a knee seemed a little unnecessary. Llorente made his feelings known with a barrage over his shoulder as he gingerly made his way to the touchline after receiving treatment. Raphinha, whose yelp as he rolled having been kicked by Ashley Westwood provoked the ire of the Burnley man, had plenty to say to his assailant as he went off to be substituted a little later.
The interaction between Gjanni Alioski and Dwight McNeil following the latter's foul and his fury at how the Leeds man went down, led to a full-time chat between Clarets captain Ben Mee and Alioski. The left-back appeared to be explaining and demonstrating what looked like a playground gesture, that was earlier seen on camera in the wake of the McNeil incident. Referee Graham Scott was made aware of a report made by a Burnley player shortly after McNeil's challenge on Alioski and that will be passed to the FA according to Sean Dyche.
All things told, Scott did well to ensure the niggle never turned into anything more serious and both sets of players should be commended too for not allowing the temperature to boil over. It was as competitive a latter-stage-of-the-season fixture as you could hope for, in every sense other than the scoreline.