Luke Ayling's VAR question, Stuart Dallas' roar and Marcelo Bielsa's cheerleaders - Fulham v Leeds United moments you missed

Leeds United toppled the London curse on Friday night with a battling 2-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage - but what were the moments you missed?

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 6:00 am
Leeds United defend a Fulham attack at Craven Cottage. Pic: Getty

Marcelo Bielsa's men returned to winning ways in the Premier League thanks to goals from striker Patrick Bamford and winger Raphinha.

Here, we take a look at some moments we spotted inside the stadium during a night where Leeds finally broke their horrific capital record with three big points.

Luke Ayling's VAR question

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There was a moment of relative calm just before kick-off as Leeds United captain for the night Luke Ayling greeted referee David Coote in the warm-up.

The pair exchanged pleasantries and a laugh before the first whistle but less than 20 minutes later whatever friendship had been forged was quickly torn in two.

Ayling's stunning header on the 10 minute mark was ruled out by VAR after Tyler Roberts was deemed to be (marginally) offside on review.

United's right-back had unleashed his hair in celebration and was still tying it back up when the decision filtered onto the screen at Craven Cottage - no goal, it read.

"How close was it?" bellowed Ayling as he raced over to ask the media during a stoppage in play just moments later.

The 29-year-old had to ask twice such was the stern expression on his face before a quiet voice in the radio gantry finally mustered a response.

It's one thing you immediately notice inside the ground. For players and fans - whenever they do eventually return - there will be no explanation for decisions made by VAR.

Ayling was reliant on those sat by a TV screen to sooth his anger, just imagine when there are 30,000 fans baying for blood.

Leeds United's Craven Cottage cheerleaders

Without supporters in attendance it is hard to explain just how eerie football stadiums really are.

The screams of players echo out after bad challenges while complaints and appeals are heard all the more clearer.

Even managers can be heard from across the far touchline leaving no hiding place for players on the opposing wings, something unthinkable amid the noise of the Premier League in years gone by.

Leeds, though, had their very own supporting cast in the capital who were with them every step of the way.

Bielsa's backroom staff - those not permitted on the bench - and others who number between 10 and 15 were handed a corner in the main stand by the tunnel.

Every attack was greeted with a shout and every tackle was met by raucous applause, encouragement and the usual yelps of "again, again!" or "good, good!".

The small pocket of the United contingent erupted when what was to be Raphinha's winner struck the back of the net, so much so there was a half second where celebrations almost felt normal.

Not quite, but almost.

Victor Orta and Angus Kinnear have made a huge point of being the cheerleaders in attendance while supporters remain absent and Leeds certainly outmatched their counterparts in that department on Friday night.

Stuart Dallas' full-time roar

There is a picture of Stuart Dallas that often does the rounds on social media whenever Leeds play in that there London.

'No wins in London, no problem,' the captions reads, taken from Luke Ayling's Instagram amid celebrations last summer.

The Northern Irishman joined United's ranks in 2015 from Brentford and Leeds have won just once in the capital since he made the move to Elland Road.

That solitary win came at Queens Park Rangers back in December 2017, a match where Dallas wasn't involved in the travelling squad.

He has had to answer questions more than most on numerous occasions over United's dreaded 'capital curse' and one such question irked him a lot the last time Leeds faced Fulham.

His reaction at full-time, then, was understandable. It was also loud. Very loud.

As the whistle sounded Dallas' roar bounced across Craven Cottage with might - it had, after all, been six years in the making.

His post-battle cry was met swiftly by an embrace with Ayling and the caption has now changed; a win in London, what a lovely problem.