Marcelo Bielsa pays tribute to Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez following Millwall win

Marcelo Bielsa paid another glowing tribute to Pablo Hernandez after a sensational performance from the Spanish midfielder dragged Leeds United back into the Championship’s automatic promotion zone.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Hernandez turned in one of the finest displays of his three-year career at Elland Road to rescue a 3-2 win over Millwall in a breathless game which saw Leeds trail twice and briefly threatened to cut the club adrift of the division’s top two.

United conceded an early goal to Millwall’s Ben Thompson and found themselves 2-1 behind after Ben Marshall converted a second-half penalty.

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Sheffield United, who started the day a point clear of Leeds in second place, were 2-1 to the good against Bristol City at the time but eventually stumbled to a 3-2 defeat at Bramall Lane.

Hernandez failed to make the EFL’s Championship team of the year this week, despite scoring or assisting no fewer than 23 goals, but his reply to Thompson’s opener was followed by a dramatic, 83rd-minute winner, 12 minutes after Luke Ayling equalised for the second time.

Bielsa said: “Pablo’s a leader. He's not a leader who likes to talk a lot or likes to shows it but he’s usually the one who asks for the ball and for balls which are difficult to receive. He tries to take the risks which are hard for a player to take.

“Pablo is someone who gives you the possibility to change a normal attack to one which creates a chance. He always keeps the feeling that we can hurt the opponent every time.”

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A crowd of 34,000 at Elland Road were put through an afternoon of high tension but celebrated wildly when Sheffield United’s defeat was announced at full-time.

Leeds are seven games away from a return to the Premier League 15 years after dropping out of the top flight having survived a frantic clash in which Patrick Bamford missed a first-half penalty.

Bielsa joked: “I can feel my heart!

“With the three chances they created, they scored twice. It was hard for us to change the result but we changed it playing with the style we have. I think we deserved to win.

“Every game we play, we just have to play the game, not thinking about any possibility of the results of other teams.”

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Millwall remain in serious danger of relegation, a point above the bottom three, and were unable to withstand the Hernandez-inspired onslaught in the closing stages.

Manager Neil Harris said: “We were leading twice in the game and for us coming to Elland Road, it was a good performance in so many ways.

“Their second goal came at a time when we were managing the game well, breaking the play up, and it’s poor. You can’t give teams like that a foot-up.

“But take nothing away from Leeds. They’re a top side and we’ve run them very close.”