Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds United’s 1-0 victory at Sheffield United.
This was the biggest result of the season so far in my opinion and the biggest test since we crashed at the Hawthorns.
It was an unusual performance by Leeds too, in that United seemed satisfied to let the Blades have the ball in the first half or maybe we just couldn’t get it off them!
Marcelo Bielsa was forced to make an early change when Liam Cooper limped off after 21 minutes but Aapo Halme slotted in seamlessly in the back three and one fine save by each keeper was the closest either side got in the first half.
Bielsa’s second change, at half-time, was positive, as Jack Clarke replaced Gjanni Alioski on the left wing and suddenly Leeds gained some traction.
Clarke and Mateusz Klich tested Dean Henderson and Kemar Roofe, Klich and Barry Douglas had efforts whistle past the post before the young Blades’ keeper made the crucial error. Trying to prevent a corner, he didn’t spot Jack Clarke lurking and Clarke’s quick feet got the ball across to Pablo Hernandez who did the rest.
Nine points from nine this week and another difficult exam passed.
Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.
They say the best teams manage to grind out results in tight games and Leeds certainly did that on Saturday.
Ahead of the game any Leeds fan would’ve been forgiven for not expecting a first win at Bramall Lane in 26 years, and despite the nature of the goal, they probably deserved it.
Although Leeds created more dangerous chances than the Blades, the game was on a knife- edge for the full 90 minutes. Both sides created chances and they both defended well, particularly Kalvin Phillips who put in another man-of-the-match performance.
Leeds played like a real team all throughout the game, defending together and attacking together once they had weathered the early storm. In fact, threats came from all over the park, with full-backs Barry Douglas and Stuart Dallas also looking dangerous.
This was the type of performance that was missing last season against the bigger teams, and if Leeds can continue in this form, other teams will find it hard to stop them.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.
Leeds United climbed to the top of the Championship, albeit for a few hours after a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Norwich City reclaimed pole position after they defeated Rotherham United 3-1 at Carrow Road.
This was everything we expected it to be, ‘a real derby’ with enough incident to cover three pages. Sheffield were the best team early in the game, Basham and McGoldrick had early opportunities, Barry Douglas heading the first one clear then Bailey Peacock-Farrell denying the Sheffield striker.
Leeds lost captain Liam Cooper with what looked a serious leg injury, Aapo Halme replaced him and from a corner nearly gave Leeds the lead, Sheffield keeper Dean Henderson brilliantly saving the defender’s header. Billy Sharp had an excellent chance to score just before the break but he put the effort high, wide and not so handsome. Scoreless at the break.
For the second game running Gjanni Alioski was replaced at the break by youngster Jack Clarke and the youngster tested Henderson within minutes of coming on. The Sheffield keeper also denied Mateusz Klich when the Polish international found space in the box and shot low after shaking off the attention of three defenders. The frantic pace didn’t diminish as Billy Sharp was denied by Pontus Jansson and then Peacock-Farrell was beaten by a Stevens shot but the ball went over the bar.
The winner came with less than 10 minutes left. A ball was played back towards Henderson and he tried to put the ball upfield but instead found Jack Clarke who steadied himself before playing a superb ball across the penalty area to Pablo Hernandez, the Spaniard cooly put the ball into the empty net. Leeds had one scare before the points were theirs, substitute Connor Washington hitting the bar with a overhead kick.
The win was Leeds’ first in nine visits to Bramall Lane, 1992 was the last time and everybody knows what happened after that!
Man of the match: Pontus Jansson.
The first win for the Whites at this venue in 26 years was not as important as the last one, but momentous nonetheless.
The Blades started on the front foot but after half an hour or so, Leeds had edged themselves into the game.
This was despite the fact that Leeds had lost captain Liam Cooper to a nasty looking injury.
By half-time, the Whites were looking more assertive as Aapo Halme slotted into the defence as though it was the most natural thing in the world for him.
Jack Clarke joined the party for the second half and it was Clarke who pursued John Egan’s overhit back pass.
Dean Henderson seemed to have plenty of time to whack the ball into touch but instead allowed the Leeds man to dispossess him and pass the ball to Pablo Hernandez who slid it into the empty net.
This win was a triumph over adversity, history and terrible refereeing.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.
They tried to land their punches but Leeds tucked in on the ropes and emerged with tidy little jabs.
The loss of the skipper would be enough for many teams to throw in the towel but Marcelo Bielsa’s fighters took it on the chin and boxed on. Low blows from the home side went unnoticed by the referee but the lads in yellow reappeared in the second half ready to mix it in the clinches. Adam Forshaw in particular knows how that works. As the Blades wore themselves pointless, Leeds began to dominate, ducking and weaving, with quick movement and sharp flurries. Jack Clarke, a bantam-weight in amongst the sluggers, hitting on the run.
And then, worn down, Sheffield stuck out a glass jaw and boom, knockout. The game was as expected but the goal was a shock.
The result was a very pleasant surprise. Leeds should be proud of themselves, knowing they can go toe to toe with anyone. Liam Cooper’s exit is a concern but with a little bit of luck Leeds can start to entertain the idea of becoming champions.
Man of the match: Adam Forshaw.
So this is what it feels like to win at Bramall Lane. It was half an hour gone before we got a foothold in the game but we dealt with the injury to Liam Cooper well and grew into the fixture to the point we were the better side after half-time.
Everybody loves a late winner but it was even more enjoyable coming courtesy of a mistake from an on-loan goalkeeper that had already had a rough ride from the Leeds fans behind the goal about his parent club. His generous pass to Jack Clarke allowed the youngster to calmly tee up Pablo Hernandez who was exactly the player you’d want to guide it into an empty net. The away end erupted.
Plenty of players were deserving of praise after the game including the goalscorer himself and Aapo Halme who did some excellent defensive work as an emergency sub. Kalvin Phillips was nothing short of immense but my man-of-the-match vote goes to Stuart Dallas who is getting better by the game. Three wins, three clean sheets and nine points with an ever changing back line makes this one of the most impressive weeks from United for a long time.
Man of the match: Stuart Dallas.