Leeds United's season finale draws short-lived recent rivalry to a close
LEEDS United will wave farewell to West Brom tomorrow, at least for another season.
Having both slogged it out in the Championship for two consecutive seasons, the Whites and Baggies went up together in the summer of last year.
Unlike Leeds, West Brom’s return has proved short-lived with even the appointment of Sam Allardyce failing to save the Baggies from the drop.
‘Big Sam’ was brought in to replace the axed Slaven Bilic who had taken the Baggies up and took in three games against Leeds which brought him just one point.
Instead, it was Darren Moore in the dugout the last time West Brom beat Leeds.
That came when Bielsa’s Whites suffered an usually heavy Championship defeat at the Hawthorns of November 2018.
But Leeds bounced back in style against the Baggies four months later and it’s been a pretty grim story for West Brom when it comes to United encounters since.
Hal Robson-Kanu, Matt Phillips, Harvey Barnes and Dwight Gayle all netted for Moore’s side as Leeds were blitzed 4-1 at the Hawthorns in November 2018 as Pablo Hernandez bagged a stoppage time consolation for the Whites.
The victory prevented Bielsa’s side from returning to the top of the Championship and sent the Baggies fifth, just two points behind the Whites.
Leeds then responded by notching seven-straight league wins but their form took a turn for the worse at the turn of the year.
Then came the Spygate saga in the run up to January’s hosting of Derby County in which Leeds produced a 2-0 victory but defeats at Stoke City, at home to Norwich and away at QPR followed in United’s next seven games.
It meant that Leeds lined up for the season’s second clash against West Brom at Elland Road on March 1, 2019 having slipped out of the division’s automatic promotion places and down to third place.
The Whites were behind second-placed Sheffield United on goal difference and two points behind leaders Norwich City.
Moore’s Baggies were four points behind in fourth.
Yet Leeds put themselves back on top of the division and seemingly firmly on course for automatic promotion following the Friday night clash against West Brom in which Pablo Hernandez fired Leeds ahead after just 16 seconds.
The lightning fast opener came despite West Brom kicking off and pumping a flighted ball towards the Whites box which was met with a no nonsense header from Liam Cooper.
The header set the tone for a dominant performance and sent the ball to Jack Harrison near the half-way line on the left flank.
Harrison then ran all the way to the edge of the box down the left hand side before squaring the ball to Hernandez who had his arms aloft waiting for the pass after running towards the edge of the D.
The pass found Hernandez perfectly and the magical Spaniard took two quick touches to set himself for a shot that was then arrowed into the top left corner to send Elland Road wild. Hernandez’s strike was the fourth quickest goal in United history.
Jermaine Wright scored for Leeds after just ten seconds back in November 2004 and there were only 11 seconds on the clock when Mark Viduka netted against Charlton Athletic in March 2001.
Souleymane Doukara also bagged against Ipswich Town after just 12 seconds in January 2016.
The Baggies never recovered from conceding so quickly and United doubled their lead in the 28th minute when striker Patrick Bamford netted from an acute angle after a deft flicked through ball from the excellent Tyler Roberts.
Roberts and Bamford then combined again as Bamford’s deflected strike put United 3-0 up in the 63rd minute and Gjanni Alioski completed the rout in second half stoppage time with a tap in from Jamie Shackleton’s precise low cross.
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Thank you Laura Collins