Pontus Jansson hails 'huge' Leeds United statement at Bristol City

Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson.Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson.
Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson.
Pontus Jansson insisted he was thriving on the pressure of a back-and-forward promotion race and described another victory on Saturday as “a huge statement” after Leeds United held on for a 1-0 win at Bristol City.

The club took another major step towards a top-two finish by taking three points from a difficult fixture at Ashton Gate, reacting to results elsewhere which left United third in the Championship before kick-off.

Norwich City beat Swansea City on Friday night to consolidate their position at the top of the league and Sheffield United asked questions of Marcelo Bielsa’s side the following day by beating Rotherham United and climbing to second an hour before the start of Leeds’ game in Bristol.

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Jansson admitted that United’s players had been aware of the scoreline at Bramall Lane but they kept their composure to beat Bristol City with a ninth-minute goal from Patrick Bamford.

Leeds hold the Championship’s second automatic promotion place with a two-point advantage over Sheffield United. The Yorkshire clubs are edging towards a fascinating meeting at Elland Road this weekend.

Bielsa’s squad travel to Reading first tomorrow night, a second long away trip in the space of four days, but Jansson, who claimed a title winner’s medal with Malmo in Sweden in 2013, said he was enjoying the tension of a neck-and-neck battle.

“I think I’ve grown a lot, especially in the last year under Marcelo,” he said. “I like this pressure and I’m used to it from when I played at Malmo. We won the league when I was 23 or so.

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“A lot of people expected things from me then and now of course it's at a higher level but I still like it. I like the pressure and I know I’m one of the most experienced players we have so it's up to me to take it and deal with it.”

Leeds lit up the Championship with a 4-0 hammering of West Bromwich Albion in their previous fixture, the most compelling performance of Bielsa’s reign as head coach, but were forced to dig in during a tighter contest at Ashton Gate.

“We beat West Brom 4-0 and then we had a tough away day,” Jansson said. “We won 1-0 and that’s a huge statement from us.

"We have confidence and we feel strong. People talked before about us being on a bad run but now we’ve won four of the last five games. The closer you come to it (promotion) it's more like a mental game than a football game. We have to be clever, relax and enjoy it.”

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Saturday’s clash with Sheffield United at Elland Road could be a telling moment in the fight for a top-two place and Chris Wilder’s Blades host Brentford tomorrow having beaten Rotherham 2-0 at the weekend.

Jansson admitted that Leeds had been unable to avoid news of that result, saying: “You’re aware of it. You try not to look at other teams but one way or another the information always comes to you.

"That's nothing we have to worry about. We have to win our games and we still have to play Sheffield at home, where we know we’re strong. If we beat them it's going to be tough for them but you focus on the next one and win your games. That's the only thing you can do.”