Daniel Farke reveals pre-game Leeds United concern and Elland Road role as Whites rout Norwich City

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Leeds United’s Elland Road salvo blew away Norwich City and all of Daniel Farke’s pre-game concerns as the Whites reached the Wembley play-off final.

Leeds abandoned the more pragmatic approach that earned a 0-0 first leg draw and went for the visitors’ throats from the outset en route to a 4-0 victory. Ilia Gruev’s clever free-kick and Joel Piroe’s cushioned header, from a perfect Willy Gnonto cross, put Leeds firmly in control inside 20 minutes. And though Illan Meslier needed to make a superb stop from a clean-through Josh Sargent, the result was never again in doubt. Georginio Rutter added a third before the break and the onslaught continued in the second half, even if Angus Gunn was beaten once more. Crysencio Summerville got the fourth to complete an utterly dominant performance.

What Leeds produced left Farke purring, but there was a note of relief from the German too. “One of our most complex performances during the whole season today,” he said. “So creative in order to create so many clear cut chances. Should have scored many more but total control apart from one scene. I'm happy with the clean sheet. It was important to return back to our best defensive behaviour at Carrow Road, we transported it to this game. We took the next step to be good on the ball and create chances. Although we were so early 2-0 up they tried everything to change the running of the game, we had to be switched on in each and every moment. Many compliments to my side, also to my young side tonight. I was a bit concerned, the pressure was a bit on us here at Elland Road after the first game and due to the first season we had. We had to play without Stuart Dallas, Pascal Struijk, Patrick Bamford, Sam Byram. Daniel James and Connor Roberts not ready to play 90 minutes. I don't know our average age on the pitch or if we could handle the experience and physicality of Norwich. The lads delivered in a perfect way, pretty impressive.”

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Central to the victory was the return to form of Rutter, who pulled free of a recent loss of confidence to torment Norwich early on. It was exactly what Farke has been hoping for, for weeks, having continued to back the Frenchman with significant minutes and starts. “I was a bit careful before the game, I had two or three times in the last weeks the feeling in training he was sharp again but the performance in the game was not top level,” said Farke. “He's lost a bit of his confidence but the feeling was overall he's played such a great season. He's always there for the team, tries to work hard, he did his job we wanted to do against the ball at Norwich. I said listen, as long as you are doing the basic stuff to help the team I will always back you. He was a key player for 47 games, it's not like I don't back him for one game. It's key they get more backing and trust to win their confidence and rhythm back. They have carried us this whole season. They need my backing in these moments. Thank God they repaid my performance tonight.”

Elland Road played a full part in the victory too, providing a spectacular backdrop as Leeds entered the stadium and growing only louder as the first half played out the way it did. Farke felt like his team were straining at the leash at times due to the urges of the crowd, but recognised how special the atmosphere was. “This place is second to none,” he said. “How much this place is rocking, once it comes down to the wire, this club is then united like no one else. It's unbelievable. The run in was not the best because of many injuries, didn't have our best shape or best results but to go with this unity into this game is second to none. I'm pretty grateful for this experience. Sometimes it could be a bit dangerous because it's not that easy to play not each and every ball forward, we have to make sure we still keep our cool and not overriding emotions when it's rocking like today. This place is a great help. This is why we all wanted to be a football player, for nights like this. No one can guarantee success, you can be the better side, you can lose a game, but this was nearly a perfect night. It was one of those special nights.”

Leeds will face the winner of tomorrow night’s clash between West Bromwich Albion and Southampton in the final at Wembley, for the chance to play in the Premier League next season.

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