YEP Jury - Leeds United fans daring to believe in promotion to the Premier League after Pablo Hernandez’s winner at Swansea

Leeds United’s late-show victory over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday has left Whites fans “daring to believe” that promotion to the Premier League will be achieved this season.

Monday, 13th July 2020, 8:37 am
Pablo Hernandez celebrates scoring his side's winner against former club Swansea City. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images.

The heartache is still raw among Leeds supporters from the way the team trailed off at the end of last season when Marcelo Bielsa’s boys fell agonisingly short of the mark.

This season, fans have witnessed a steely resolve to claim promotion, if not the title, but there have been one or two biting-your-fingernails moments during the campaign and Sunday’s excursion to South Wales followed that particular formbook - until the introduction of subs Pablo Hernandez and Gjanni Alioski.

Hernandez - who struck the match-winning goal in the 89th minute - was an obvious pick for man of the match among The Yorkshire Evening Post jurors, but captain Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips also caught their eye.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez scores the 89th-minute winner against former club Swansea City. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Here’s what else they’ve had to say:

Andy Rhodes

After what happened last season, I’ve learned not to get carried away.

But, with three games to go, the end really is in sight. Many on Twitter said they would’ve taken a point before kick-off and, with United’s record in Wales, you can see why. But this Leeds side is made from something different. They have proved their doubters wrong time and time again. When the heat has been on, they have delivered more often than anyone else.

Relieved Leeds United players celebrate victory over Swansea City at the Liberty stadium. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images

So too has one Pablo Hernandez. Even at the age of 35, he continues to produce and dig Leeds out of countless holes.

Until his half-time introduction, his side struggled to create meaningful chances. Afterwards, they looked a team transformed. Sound like a familiar story?

The final three opponents offer a mixed bag in terms of styles. United may again need to be patient. Barnsley need a result so could leave the door open.

Thursday could be a season-defining day. Dare we believe yet?

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

Keith Ingham

Six points clear of the third once again, top of the league and a 1-0 victory proves that when it comes to it Leeds have the X Factor to bring Premiership football back to Elland Road after an absence of 16 seasons.

Everybody knew that this trip to Wales would be a true test and the clean sheet and win was a fitting tribute to the late Jack Charlton who passed away on Friday. Not a classic game by any means but at this stage of the season it’s results that matter more than performances.

In a game that offered much, it actually delivered a game that was a really nervy affair but still the best chances came to the foot and head of Patrick Bamford but Freddie Woodman was equal to both efforts, it is hard to criticise the striker for his efforts.

The only responses from Swansea were efforts from Rhian Brewster in the first half and Conor Gallagher in the second.

The introduction of the mercurial Pablo Hernandez gave Leeds an extra impetus after a frustrating first half.

He has the ability to pick the lock of any defence and when Luke Ayling laid the ball back in the last minute to the Spaniard, Pablo placed it past Woodman and the ball went in off the post to prompt wild celebrations on the pitch and in thousands of living rooms of Leeds fans everywhere.

Good teams, when they need to can mix it up and if needs be win ugly, and maybe yesterday was one of those games.

If Brentford fail to beat Preston on Wednesday, Leeds will be promoted, if they beat Barnsley on Thursday teatime.

Now where are those nerve tablets!

Man of the match: Liam Cooper.

David Watkins

Leeds were hardly at their best; whether that was the pressure causing nerves to jangle or just an off day we’ll never know.

We were short of quality in much of our passing and much of our crossing of the ball was poor. We also gave away far too many needless free kicks and, annoyingly, more big chances went begging that could have made the game easier as we were certainly the better of two nervous looking sides.

But, in scrappy games like this, it is often just one moment of magic that settles it and, thankfully, Leeds have one man who always carries a bit of magic dust in his pocket.

Pablo Hernandez, a former Swan himself of course and a scorer here on our last visit, had one opportunity to pull one piece of quality out of his pocket and he did it with aplomb.

At the end of the day the three points is all that matters and they too are now in our pocket. Three games to go and a maximum of four points needed… surely it’s ours for the taking this time?

Man of the match: Liam Cooper.

Matthew Evans

Imagine such an important late winner, those exact circumstances, with a full away end.

Six points and six goals over what should have been our Easter weekend couldn’t be more perfect. It’s just a shame we had to wait until July and could only enjoy it through TV. Not that it really matters, of course, because what really matters is that United are just four points away from a return to the Premier League.

Swansea gave us a game and proved their worth as the strongest opposition we’ve faced since the return from lockdown but they didn’t count on the way Bielsa’s Leeds United just keeps going and going and going.

Pablo Hernandez was a perfect scorer of a perfectly timed goal and proved his worth with another starring role in the second 45 minutes.

But my man of the match goes to Kalvin Phillips who played through the pain and put in an impressively hardworking 90 minutes in the centre of midfield.

The wait for Thursday night will be agonising.

Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.

Jacob Starr

My word. The wizard that is Pablo Hernandez comes to the rescue of Leeds United once again.

His last-gasp, in-off-the-post strike against Swansea City could prove to be the most significant goal during our time out of the top flight. And one that was rightly dedicated to legend Jack Charlton who sadly passed away on Friday.

I said that a cameo from the Spaniard is all that it could take, and that’s precisely what happened, although for 88 minutes the Swans refused to roll over and even managed to put Leeds under some pressure.

The Spaniard’s finish from Luke Ayling’s cross prompted chaotic scenes at the Liberty, with the substitutes and coaching staff going berserk on the touchline, and Andrea Radrizzani celebrating in the stands.

It means so much to everybody at the club, and I cannot imagine what the scenes would’ve been like in that away end.

Pablo is the difference between success and failure.

We are extremely lucky to have him.

And he is arguably the best player this team has had since relegation in 2004.

The result sees United move three points clear at the top after West Brom dropped vital points at Blackburn and, more importantly, we’re still six ahead of Brentford who were victorious yet again.

This all means that a mere four more points will lead to official confirmation of our Premier League return, but it could be even fewer if Preston can nick something at Griffin Park on Wednesday.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

Mike Gill

This was always going to be a tough one and, as the game ran down, most of us would have been grateful for a draw.

The fairytale ending to honour the late Jack Charlton did not seem likely to happen. Fifty-six years ago was the last time that United won at Swansea, 3-0, to clinch promotion from the old second division.

This game came with no such guarantee as Brentford had kept up the pressure from their position in third place.

The game wasn’t pretty. At the end of the first half United registered 60 per cent possession which was on the low side for them.

Most of the meaningful action came in the second half with Illan Meslier tipping a fierce shot over the bar and Patrick Bamford coming close at the other end with a diving header.

Eventually, Swansea’s defence was breached when Pablo Hernandez squeezed in a shot off the right-hand post.

The fat lady hasn’t sung yet but she is climbing on to the stage and the orchestra is turning up.

Man of the match: Liam Cooper.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. These are challenging times but the team at the Yorkshire Evening Post need your support more than ever in the weeks ahead.

While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you. In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you - wherever possible and providing it is safe for you to do so - to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Inevitably falling advertising revenues will start to have an impact on local newspapers and the way we continue to work during this period of uncertainty. So the support of our readers has never been more important as we try to make sure that we keep you connected with the city you live in during this time. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. We need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Our team of trusted reporters are working incredibly hard behind the scenes- from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms - to look at how we can do this and your continued support to the YEP will help to protect its viability in the days and weeks ahead.

For more details on our subscription offers please visit www.localsubsplus.co.uk/YEP, email [email protected] or call us on 0330 4033004

Thank you, Laura Collins, Editor