Leeds United surged to the top of the Championship for the first time in 27 years tomight as a defiant 2-0 win over Birmingham City handed Thomas Christiansen’s side control of the division.
Leeds overcame tired legs and a spirited display from Birmingham to extend their unbeaten run to seven league games and knock Cardiff City off the top of the table.
United led the division for a matter of hours in 2004, helped by an early kick-off on the first day of the 2004-05 season, but have not topped England’s second tier in a meaningful sense since Howard Wilkinson led the club to the title during the 1989-90 campaign.
Head coach Thomas Christiansen, who has made a compelling start to his career in English football since taking charge on the back of a year with Cypriot club APOEL, played down the importance of Leeds’ league position but admitted his players should feel satisfied that “what you have done until now is at a high level.”
Samuel Saiz’s sixth goal of the season drew first blood in the first half last night and Stuart Dallas wrapped up a hard win over Harry Redknapp’s side with a late, injury-time goal.
Christiansen’s side recorded a sixth straight clean sheet in the league and have not conceded since their 3-2 win at Bolton Wanderers on the first weekend of the term.
The United boss said: “You can measure us with the performance of the team today. It’s a team who believe and a team who fight for three points.
“When you believe in what you’re doing and do it with passion like they did, things are easier to achieve.
“At the moment if you tell me it’s the last game and we end up in this position then I’ll be happy and proud, all that you can say about it. But right now don’t give me anything. It’s just a little bit more pressure on the team because everyone wants to beat Leeds.
“But I’m happy for the points we’ve got and I want us to keep on improving. You have to say that what you have done until now is at a high level.”
United routed Burton Albion 5-0 on Saturday but showed signs of fatigue against Birmingham City and were indebted to a brilliant goalline clearance from Luke Ayling for a 1-0 lead at half-time.
Christiansen said: “I’m very happy with the result and also the way we took the points. It was a very difficult game and Birmingham gave us problems.
“When you manage to take three points even when you play not so good, or like the performances you’ve had in other games, you’re probably more satisfied. It was a team win. When we played bad, everyone fought for the same goal.”