Victor Orta's explosion and Aleksandar Mitrovic's frustration - what you missed as Leeds United beat Fulham

CROWDIE - Jack Harrison joins the 'fans' in the stand as Leeds United beat Fulham 3-0 at Elland Road. Pic: Simon HulmeCROWDIE - Jack Harrison joins the 'fans' in the stand as Leeds United beat Fulham 3-0 at Elland Road. Pic: Simon Hulme
CROWDIE - Jack Harrison joins the 'fans' in the stand as Leeds United beat Fulham 3-0 at Elland Road. Pic: Simon Hulme
'Come on Leeds, carajo!' came the cry from Victor Orta, breaking the quiet of a near-empty Elland Road seconds before kick-off against Fulham.

And at full-time the director of football again punctuated the eerie atmosphere with his declarations of joy and relief, summing up the feelings of an entire Leeds United fanbase.

The 3-0 win restored Leeds' place at the top of the Championship and perhaps more crucially it restored fans' confidence following the defeat at Cardiff City in the restart last weekend.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Supporters were absent from Elland Road but it remained an emotional occasion. The Leeds players ran out to warm up in t-shirts bearing a tribute to legends Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry who passed away during football's suspension.

There was a minute of silence, before Orta's voice rang out and betrayed how important this game was to Leeds. Last week a good opportunity slipped from their grasp, this week presented another one. A golden one.

Fans or no fans, there was needle in the fixture. Aleksandar Mitrovic, who grabbed Ben White by the throat in a scuffle during the first meeting of the teams, extended not an olive branch but an elbow, into the face of the Whites defender, in the opening minutes. The officials missed it. The cameras did not and Orta was soon shown it on a mobile phone, increasing the exasperation he expressed the moment White was felled.

The youngster shook it off and soon it was Fulham who were hit by a blow.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In front of 15,000 'crowdies' - the images of fans, loved ones and popular ex Leeds players - Leeds took the lead. As the net at the Norman Hunter South Stand greeted Patrick Bamford's shot, a roar greeted the goal. It was artificial crowd noise but someone obviously had their finger on the button and timed it perfectly.

Fulham were soon into the game and took it by the scruff of the neck, so it was no surprise to see Leeds make full use of the first drinks break, having largely ignored it at Cardiff. Marcelo Bielsa was dishing out instructions to his men, but on Fulham came.

That the first half ended 1-0 to Leeds was somewhat of a surprise, given the visitors' dominance.

It was no surprise to see Bielsa take decisive action at half-time however, sending on Pablo Hernandez and Gjanni Alioski.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The second half had not yet kicked off and Alioski was deep in conversation with Mitrovic, presumably wishing him well for the remaining 45 minutes.

Nerves that had build up over the course of a three month break were still in the air when Jack Harrison's shot was deflected just past the post, the crowd noise operator's itchy trigger finger replicating that awkward moment when a section of a stadium believes a goal has been scored.

But the button was soon depressed for the right reason, Leeds going 2-0 up through Alioski and as Fulham struggled to contain the counter attacks or impose themselves at all on the hosts, their frustration grew. Mitrovic turned the air blue, demanding his team-mates move the ball as they had in the first half.

It was all smiles and positive reinforcement from Leeds, however. Barry Douglas, who would later come on as a substitute, engaged in some touchline coaching as he warmed up, imploring Alioski not to foul his man.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At 3-0, following Jack Harrison's 71st minute strike, Leeds were able to make changes and both Mateusz Klich and Harrison walked off to standing ovations from the directors' box.

Leeds were not able to rest, however. Bielsa continued to demand the same standards from his side. "Again," he roared as they pressed Fulham to try and win the ball back late on.

And as Ian Poveda crossed the touchline to make his cameo, the youngster was reminded in no uncertain terms of his responsibilities to play two-touch football and 'run' by captain Liam Cooper.

Orta attempted to compensate for the absence of 35,000 with his full-time reaction, letting out a roar and letting the players know all about it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He clenched his fists and saluted Kalvin Phillips, bringing a big smile to the midfielder's face and even as players made their way to post-game media duties there were shouts of joy from the Spaniard. Bielsa, who admitted the win was important but went no further in his analysis for the media, was getting into position for the Sky cameras while Orta continued to enjoy the result.

For both men and for everyone not able to be present at Elland Road today, it meant so much.