Peerless Pablo Hernandez, ready for Kemar Roofe and seven wins from the Prem - Leeds United Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United return to the Championship's automatic promotion places on a thrilling Saturday afternoon, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Saturday's 3-2 win against Millwall at Elland Road.

Sunday, 31st March 2019, 1:02 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st March 2019, 1:08 pm
UNSTOPPABLE: Leeds United's Luke Ayling celebrates his powerful header which drew the Whites back level at 2-2. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Seven wins from the Prem

That's what it now comes down to and it might well take even less than that with Sheffield United looking uncharacteristically shaky in their 3-2 loss at home to Bristol City, a win which Blades boss Chris Wilder admitted the Robins deserved.

The combination of the Bramall Lane reverse and Leeds' own thrilling victory against Millwall combined to create the perfect afternoon for the Whites whose automatic promotion prospects are now suddenly back in their own hands following the very game in which they fell out of them.

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The Championship in a nutshell and it will be hard to top the 60 seconds in which Pablo Hernandez's winner was followed with news that Bristol City were suddenly winning 3-2 at Bramall Lane having trailed 2-1.

Elland Road is noisy at the best of the times but this was something else and the cheer for the Blades result appearing on the big screen was almost as loud as the one that greeted the Elland Road full-time whistle.

It's impossible to predict what will happen in both Leeds and Sheffield United's final seven games but the fact that Leeds' destiny is back in their own hands is clearly huge.

Approaching Saturday's showdown with Millwall, even eight-straight wins for Leeds would have been no good if Wilder's men had achieved the same feat and there were plenty of people who thought that could happen.

Not now and while the advantage is only two points, Leeds United are now very much back in pole position to finally return to the country's top flight.

Peerless Pablo Hernandez

It's impossible to conduct any sort of analysis of Saturday's victory without again highlighting the marvellous talents of Pablo Hernandez who perhaps enjoyed his finest game yet in a Leeds United shirt.

There was so much more to the 33-year-old's performance than his two goals which he finished in no nonsense clinical fashion and how the Spaniard failed to make the EFL team of the year beggars belief.

He's arguably the best player in the league and by his own admission one that is still improving under Marcelo Bielsa as his 34th birthday approaches on April 11.

Hernandez looks ready for another crack at the Premier League and after a 15-year wait so too do Leeds.

A fully fit squad and ready for the return of Roofe

Yes, you've read that correctly, and for the first time this season Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United are now looking at a fully fit squad with Kemar Roofe set to be back available for Saturday's clash at Birmingham City.

Depending on Roofe's condition, it will now be down to Bielsa to decide whether United's top scorer comes straight back into the side and in what position or whether his comeback begins with a place on the bench.

The return of Roofe will be a huge boost for Leeds who are continuing to do things the hard way with United again guilty of squandering plenty of chances against the Lions.

Even striker Patrick Bamford himself admitted he had an off day as part of an afternoon which saw the forward miss a penalty while at the other end of the pitch skipper Liam Cooper said his team-mates had "pulled him out of the s**t" with the victory after he conceded a second half penalty.

A bit harsh on himself from Cooper who again put in a good display but Millwall caused United all sorts of problems bombing forwards with 23-year-old Ben Thompson having a stormer.

Cooper's partner in crime Pontus Jansson saw his afternoon ended when surprisingly substituted by Bielsa for Jack Clarke in the 67th minute, moments after being booked when there were fears the talisman Swede could have been sent off.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell looked solid enough in goal in place of the suspended Kiko Casilla but Saturday's victory was hardly achieved in straightforward circumstances.

But with Adam Forshaw also making a welcome return as a 75th-minute substitute and Casilla now back from suspension, Bielsa suddenly has every available option back at his disposal with even Izzy Brown failing to make the bench against the Lions and someone else will now have to drop out for Roofe.

A seriously strong squad and Leeds really ought to have enough in the locker to now get the job done with a trip to former boss Garry Monk's Birmingham City next on the agenda.

Monk deserves huge credit for his work at Leeds and what he almost achieved but under Bielsa this is something very different altogether.

Luke Ayling's perfect response

There are plenty of other points that could be picked up on from Saturday's success and United's fans deserve special praise for 'believing' and creating an absolute cauldron of noise that Tyler Roberts admitted helped his Whites over the line.

Roberts himself enjoyed a fine game and it should be remembered that the Welsh international is still only 20 years old.

Leeds have a real player on their hands there both for now and the future but maybe the final word should be about Luke Ayling who brought United level at 2-2 with an absolute bullet of a header that nearly bust the net.

Ayling had been receiving his fair share of stick in recent weeks for displays that were falling short of what he had previously shown but the popular right back now seems very much back with a bang and the presence of Ayling and either Gjanni Alioski or Barry Douglas bombing forward from the full back positions is a huge part of United's game.

Two of them even combined for Ayling's header following a peach of a cross from Douglas as part of a truly memorable afternoon at Elland Road that will live long in the memory.

It is now for Leeds to see the job through and ensure that March 30 against Millwall really was the day when the Whites put themselves back into the automatic promotion places and back to stay.