Liam Cooper hails huge win in Leeds United promotion drive and dedicates clean sheet to Kiko Casilla

LIAM COOPER hailed victory against Bristol City as "massive" in Leeds United's promotion drive and said Saturday's clean sheet at Elland Road was one for Kiko Casilla.

Sunday, 16th February 2020, 11:55 am
Updated Sunday, 16th February 2020, 12:08 pm
THIS ONE'S FOR YOU: Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla during Saturday's 1-0 win against Championship visitors Bristol City. Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images.

Goalkeeper Casilla kept his place in the Whites net despite having made three costly individual errors in United's last three games that led to goals for Wigan Athletic, Nottingham Forest and Brentford as part of two consecutive losses and a draw.

But Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa kept the faith the triple-Champions League wining custodian and Casilla was rarely troubled as United recorded a remarkably one-sided 1-0 victory against the Robins.

“I’m delighted for him, absolutely delighted for him," said Cooper, asked about the importance of not just the win but also the clean sheet for Casilla.

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"He’s come in for a bit of stick. He’s a confident lad. That clean sheet was for him.

"He deserves it. He never changes the way he plays and he’s a great lad. We’re absolutely buzzing for him.

“We do our jobs, we stick together through thick and thin. We’re an honest bunch and if one messes up, another one will bail him out. That’s the way it’s got to be. We’ve got a real togetherness and a great group of lads. We’ll fight to the end.”

Second-placed Leeds approached Saturday's contest against the Robins with their cushion in the Championship's automatic promotion spots down to goal difference having been 11 points clear of third in mid-December.

But Leeds completely dominated and made their early superiority count as Luke Ayling slammed home following some pinball in the City box after 16 minutes.

United then squandered a whole host of opportunities to put Lee Johnson's side out of sight but the Whites held firm at the other end to record a first clean sheet since the 2-0 win at home to Hull City on December 12.

Cooper was particularly pleased with what was United's first clean sheet in 12 games as the Whites made light of the appalling weather conditions of driving rain and 50mph winds in Storm Dennis.

The skipper reasoned: "We have seen so many games like that at Elland Road this season and as a defender it can get frustrating sometimes when the chances aren't going in.

"But the lads put one away and we had a lead and that forces Bristol to come out a bit more.

"We had a lot of chances and for me the clean sheet is massive.

"I think that's the first one in 12 games and it's unbelievable for us.

"As a team, we defend so well and credit to the lads, they have stuck in.

"It's been backs against the walls sometimes, we haven't been getting the results but we are delighted with that.

"The conditions were a lot worse in the second half. You seem to think you have got the ball then it goes suddenly.

"I'm so proud of the lads in the way they played the conditions and played the game.

"We were bang at it from the start and it's credit to the team."

Assessing the importance of a victory that saw Leeds move three points clear of third-placed Fulham with 13 games left, Cooper admitted: "It's massive after the run we have been on.

"We know this place can be unbelievable when it's rocking and the fans have stuck with us and it's nice to give them a performance and a win."