Ronaldo Vieira won the admiration of Bristol City manager Lee Johnson and admitted the threat of a fourth straight loss had driven Leeds United to one of their most convincing performances of the season in a 3-0 victory at Ashton Gate.
The 19-year-old was named in United’s starting line-up for the first time in a league game this term and contributed heavily to a rejuvenated display which stemmed the flow of defeats suffered by Thomas Christiansen’s side.
Leeds had dropped from first place in the Championship to sixth during a run of four losses in five games but climbed back up to fourth yesterday by ending Bristol City’s 12-match unbeaten run and inflicting their first home defeat.
Christiansen responded to calls to strengthen his midfield by drafting in Vieira and allowing Kalvin Phillips to assume a more attacking role. Leeds scored twice in the first 15 minutes through a Samuel Saiz brace and sealed their win in the second half with a header from Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
Johnson credited England Under-20 international Vieira for “running the show” and Vieira said: “We just knew we had to win the game.
“We couldn’t go four games in a row losing if we wanted to be up there at the end of the season. All the boys worked hard during the week.
“We had a lot of meetings about Bristol and they’re a good team but I think we overlooked them and just tried to get the three points.”
Christiansen came in for criticism for the first time since his appointment as head coach as an impressive start to the season faded either side of the recent international break but Vieira insisted the term was still in its infancy and said United’s players had not been suffering from excessive pressure.
“From the outside I felt it but from the inside, it’s still early,” he said. “It’ll still be early until after Christmas.
“Obviously the fans want to win and if we lose three games there’s a lot of pressure from the outside but on the inside everyone knew that we’ve got time, we’re still up there and still had a chance.
“There were only six points between four teams and you can get that in four days, Saturday to Tuesday. Everyone’s happy and hopefully we can carry it on.”
Vieira made a huge impact last season during his first year as a professional with Leeds, earning a maiden England youth cap and a new four-year contract as a result, but a combination of injury and Christiansen’s selection policy had denied him a start in any of United’s initial 12 league games.
“I’m just pleased to be back out there enjoying myself and helping the team as much as I can,” Vieira said.
“I feel like I took my chance well but I came into the game just thinking ‘I’m going to do as much as I can to help the team.’ I thought I did well and we’ll see what happens now.”