YEP Jury: Sublime Leeds United provide perfect response after Rangers reverse
Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds United’ 4-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Friday night.
What a superb evening at Elland Road. The same team that lost to QPR on Tuesday stopped West Brom doing the double over us on Friday in emphatic style.
It’s near impossible to pick out a man of the match. Kiko Casilla, Luke Ayling, Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper were faultless but don’t really get a look in. Mateusz Klich had his best game for weeks and Jack Harrison improves with every performance. Patrick Bamford and Pablo Hernandez scored three goals between them and either would be a sure-fire bet any other week.
But for me it comes down to three players. Tyler Roberts put in a Herculean effort against his old club. Then, at one point in the first half, Kalvin Phillips put in a stupefying tackle to stop a West Brom attack and ran 40 yards before registering a shot on target. My final vote, however, goes to the man playing left-back who seemed to occupy every other position as well. How Gjanni Alioski keeps going is beyond me but I am ever grateful that he does.
This was a sweet, sweet win and gets us back in the hunt for automatic promotion.
Man of the match: Gjanni Alioski.
I said in my preview piece for this game: “…we have to finish clinically, defend stoutly, and hope Lady Luck turns up.” Well, with perfect timing, Leeds did both and, well, we didn’t really need Lady Luck!
Leeds got off to the perfect start of course, with a full house in raucous mood expecting to have to play the role of 12th man. Pablo’s first-minute goal was the perfect tonic to sweep away that nagging malaise we suffered at Loftus Road and neither crowd nor players looked back after that.
We’d threatened to do this to teams for months but perhaps it is all the sweeter at this vital time against a main rival.
It was the perfect performance; an early goal, the rampant way we then built on it and chased and harried as soon as Albion had the ball, winning it back in an instant. A second goal before half-time and a third midway through the second half kept the momentum going and to see Jamie Shackleton come on and set up Gjanni Alioski for the fourth was the stuff of fairy tales!
Men of the match: Leeds United!
Well that was all right, wasn’t it? Not many Leeds fans would have predicted that result after last Tuesday’s performance at QPR, but it was nothing less than they deserved.
West Brom were beaten from the second the ball left Pablo Hernandez’s right boot 16 seconds in. It was the perfect start and allayed any fears United’s fans may have had pre-match.
Almost every United player seemed to have their best game of the season.
Gjanni Alioski had more energy than a Duracell bunny, Tyler Roberts morphed into prime Iniesta and Hernandez did what Hernandez does, dictating play from every area of the pitch.
Patrick Bamford finally looked like the £7m striker we thought we were signing last summer. His two finishes were clinical and Marcelo Bielsa will hope that will set him up for the run-in.
Bristol City will be another tough test next up, but when Leeds play like this, no team can stop them.
There’s 11 cup finals to go now, on to the next one.
Man of the match: Gjanni Alioski.
Well I got that one wrong didn’t I!
It’s pretty hard to understand the feeling at the end of one of the most one-sided games you’ll probably see and unbelievably the team Leeds ‘battered’ were one of their closest rivals. The 4-0 scoreline did not flatter the home side and it could have been more embarrassing for the away side if Sam Johnstone hadn’t denied at least one or two certain goals.
I’ll admit I went overboard with criticism of the team after a woeful defeat at QPR but the way they responded was absolutely incredible, even as late as the 85th minute the West Bromwich Albion players were being chased around by a quartet of Leeds players which showed the determination to put the unexpected defeat well behind them.
The four goals all had real quality about them. Liam Cooper’s header, the control of Jack Harrison and the sublime shot by Pablo Hernandez gave Leeds a 17-second lead. The second, lovely control on the edge of the box to give Patrick Bamford a sight of the white posts and the striker didn’t disappoint anybody with his finish.
The third, one of the stand-out players in the game – Tyler Roberts – strode through the WBA backline as if it wasn’t there, he supplied Bamford with another chance and again the striker put it past Johnstone. To finish off a superb win, substitute Jamie Shackleton took the WBA defence for a tour of Elland Road before giving Gjanni Alioski the simplest of chances to make it four.
I asked questions of the players and they answered them emphatically. I did doubt they could bounce back, but they shoved my doubts right down my throat.
On to Bristol City!
Men of the match: All who wore a white shirt.
After all the navel-gazing and over analysis that followed the QPR game, United came back with a bang.
Despite playing their third game in six days, they tore Albion apart with a performance which equals anything that they have achieved this season.
Pablo Hernandez set the scene while late-comers were still taking their places and what followed was truly amazing.
Clinical finishing from Patrick Bamford, silky skills and assists from Tyler Roberts, great defending from Pontus Jansson, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper and as for ‘Duracell’ Gjanni Alioski?
He gave a new meaning to box to box play and was rightly rewarded with a goal from a superb pass from Jamie Shackleton. It was therefore easy to forgive him for orchestrating another bizarre celebration.
Above all, this was a team effort and all those fans who are quick to criticise when the Whites don’t play too well should remember how far Marcelo Bielsa has taken this team. We are truly blessed to have him as head coach.
Men of the match: All of them.
The 11.33 out of Kings Cross on Tuesday was dominated by a single demographic.
Leeds United fans in every carriage and in first class sat a despondent Victor Orta. I’ve rarely seen a man take defeat so hard so much so I felt it necessary to say to him: “No-one’s happy but it’s how we come back”. And come back we did, but judging by Marcelo Bielsa’s comments post match, Friday’s performance was something that’s needed no prompting from above but from within the hearts of the players themselves.
It was as if they had grown impatient with what fate had dealt them and were prepared to take destiny into their own hands. None more so than the sage Pablo Hernandez. Deciding that this was a game of soldiers that had to be treated with dismissiveness he ended the game within 16 seconds. By the final whistle we had witnessed a masterclass in self-determination. Orta would be smiling in the posh seats, Bielsa would have fallen even more deeply in love with his players and Andrea Radrizzani would be counting it money well spent.
One is reminded of Kipling. Football makes for exceedingly good nights.
Man of the match: Let’s not quibble.