YEP Jury: Leeds United stand firm as defensive masterclass thwarts Burnley

Our panel of fans have their say on Leeds United’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Burnley.

By Mark Absolon
Monday, 28th December 2020, 11:30 am
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier is congratulated by Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas. Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier is congratulated by Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas. Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire.

DAVID WATKINS

Oh my word that was a tense second half! It’s not often we are put under siege but let’s be honest, as a defensive rearguard action that second half was superb!

In the first half it was the familiar story of a dominant Leeds doing everything bar putting our chances away but, for whatever reason, second half Burnley dominated and yet we showed some real resilience with Illan Meslier once again a hero while Pascal Struijk was superb and Kalvin Phillips majestic!

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Pascal Struijk on the run for Leeds United. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The goal, won with what is now becoming a familiar sight of Patrick Bamford running in behind the defence and this time being clattered to the ground by Nick Pope, was a well taken penalty from Bamford himself who also has to be mentioned in despatches for another tireless display of defending from the front.

This was a vital win for Leeds that just keeps us safe in that mid-table section; if we can continue to pick up points against all the teams around us we will be secure well before the end of the season.

and the manner of this win, hard fought and defensively secure, is very encouraging.

Man of the match: Illan Meslier.

Leeds United's Mateusz Klich takes on Burnley's Ashley Barnes. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

ANDY RHODES

Well, I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief after that one. It’s the biggest cliche going but this was a real game of two halves.

The first saw Leeds dominate Burnley as we all know they can. United were classy, energetic and totally in charge.

Meanwhile, the second half was all Burnley. The dominant Leeds we saw in the first half we left in the dressing room.

Leeds United's head coach on the sidelines against Burnley. PPicture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

However, Leeds showed the resolve we’ve been craving this season, standing firm against a Burnley side known for its height and physicality.

Kalvin Phillips put in an excellent defensive display, clearing countless crosses with his head as Chris Wood waited to nod the ball in.

Keeping a clean sheet and shutting out a side so adept at set pieces will give United confidence going into the rest of the festive schedule.

With a relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion next up tomorrow at the Hawthorns, United and Marcelo Bielsa will be eyeing more points against a side struggling for form.

Patrick Bamford celebrates his winning goal. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Man of the match: Illan Meslier.

MATTHEW EVANS

A very tense game but a lovely result in the end. United were the better side in the first half but had to dig deep in the second to hold the narrow lead Bamford’s fifth-minute penalty had provided.

You could see the psychological side of football dictate the balance of play in the second half. Burnley chasing an equaliser and furious about a perceived injustice against a Leeds United team holding a lead with accusations of naivety ringing in their ears from last week. It set up a game of attack versus defence for much of the second half and, thankfully for us, defence held out.

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that United’s best performers were all in the defensive third. Kalvin Phillips was superb at the heart of a back three flanked by solid performances from Ayling and Struijk. My man of the match was Ilan Meslier who single handedly (literally in some cases) improved our defending of set pieces.

This takes a bit of pressure off ahead of the trip to West Brom and hopefully that allows us to play our own relaxed game in another important game.

Man of the match: Illan Meslier.

JACOB STARR

Well that was another painful one, but the pain eventually turned into reward unlike last week. We well and truly ‘Burnleyed’ Burnley.

A fifth-minute penalty from Patrick Bamford for his 10th goal of the season proved to be the difference in a game that the Whites largely hung on to for the entirety of the second half.

Corner after corner, free-kick after free-kick. It felt like it was going to be a matter of time before the Clarets found an equaliser to build on their recent good form.

But Leeds stood firm, and their makeshift defence came out on top in what was a superb display from the back six.

Without Kalvin Phillips slotting in between Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk, I’m not too sure the result would have been similar. He was a rock.

It wasn’t quite the eight goals we witnessed last week, but it was three points, and a victory that gets us to 20 points, nine points off the bottom three, nine points off second. Not too shabby in my book.

That really could have been the worst win I’ve seen under Marcelo Bielsa, as weird as that may sound! But who’s bothered?

Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.

MIKE GILL

At times desperate, breathless and ugly but ultimately satisfying.

Leeds could have had this wrapped up by half-time with better luck for Raphinha and better finishing from Harrison.

I wasn’t just pleased that Patrick Bamford scored the early penalty but the fact that he smashed it in. He is full of confidence at the moment and long may it continue.

I agree with the officials on the Burnley penalty claim. Barnes backed into Meslier and it’s not the young Frenchman’s fault if he is taller than him.

We all knew how Burnley were going to approach this game and their dominance throughout the second half would have worn down lesser sides than United. Chris Wood was well policed by Luke Ayling. Struijk, Meslier and Alioski all deserve gold stars as the Whites showed that they can defend when needed. Nobody should minimise this achievement. A clean sheet with three top centre-backs absent is pretty good.

Kalvin Phillips gave his impression of ‘spring heeled Jack’ as he saved his team on countless occasions.

Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds United took the spoils in a gritty affair at Elland Road to kick off Super Sunday.

An early lead and a rugged defensive display from Leeds’ back line was enough to give the Whites three points and set straight any doubts from their last performance.

The game can be summarised with two early acts; Nick Pope taking down an on-rushing Patrick Bamford to award Leeds a penalty, which the in-form striker was able to tuck away.

The second incident was a disallowed goal in which Ben Mee was adjudged to have backed into Meslier prior to Ashley Barnes volleying the ball into the net; much to Sean Dyche’s protests.

An unlucky block from Bamford prevented Leeds netting a second on the half hour after some brilliant pressing from Raphinha and a careless pass from Ben Mee sent the Brazilian through. His cross met Jack Harrison whose shot somehow missed the target after cannoning off the legs of Bamford.

The second half gave Burnley the impetus to strike at the home side and without some marvellous defending from Phillips, Ayling and Struijk in the box; Leeds could have fallen behind within the first 15 minutes.

In what seemed a perfect replay of the Hernandez masterclass; Leeds were gifted the opportunity to put the game to bed when an Alioski overhead kick set Hernandez up for a five-on-two attack; his shot was brilliantly saved by Nick Pope.

After some nervy moments Leeds closed out the game and looked strong for doing so. Taking three points will spur the lads on as they turn their attentions towards a struggling West Brom.

Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.

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