Liam Cooper savoured a moment he called “one of the proudest of my life so far” as his first goal for Leeds United helped bring an end to the club’s long winless streak.
The defender’s ninth-minute volley – only the seventh goal of his professional career – set up a 3-1 victory over Blackpool on Saturday and inspired a result which Cooper admitted he and his team-mates were “itching for”.
Leeds had gone eight league games without a win before Blackpool’s visit to Elland Road but strikes from Cooper, Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci drew a line under that sequence and gave new head coach Neil Redfearn his first success in charge.
Cooper, who found the net with a clinical finish from 20 yards, said: “It was brilliant, probably one of the proudest moments of my life so far. I used to think I was David Beckham as a kid but I just hit it and hoped for luck. You could tell by my celebration I don’t score too much. When I do, I go a bit mental.
“We knew past results hadn’t been great and we knew the fans were itching for a result. So were we. We gave a good account of ourselves and in the first half we’d have given anyone a game in this league.”
Bottom-of-the-Championship Blackpool responded to a toothless display before the break by dominating the second half but Nile Ranger’s 75th-minute header failed to provoke a fightback.
The contest was lit up by Leeds’ second goal on 31 minutes, a quality counter-attack which started on the edge of United’s box, involved Sam Byram, Adryan and Antenucci and was finished off by Doukara inside Blackpool’s penalty area.
“The second goal was a great goal,” Cooper said. “It was a bit like watching Real Madrid. It’s always good to look in front of you and see those passes going together. There’s a lot of quality at the club and I think everyone can see that.”
A delighted Redfearn said: “We’re really capable of taking a team to town and the first half is how we should play.
“The crowd can be a massive advantage and if we can get this performance and this pressure all the time, it’ll be very difficult for other teams to play here.”