YEP Jury: Pablo Hernandez masterclass puts Leeds United in pole position

After a nervy first half, Leeds United pulled away to record a crucial 3-0 victory over promotion rivals Fulham yesterday – here’s what our fans’ panel made of the game.

Sunday, 28th June 2020, 4:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th June 2020, 5:02 pm

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DAVID WATKINS

Wow! Who expected that? Well, funnily enough I know a few folk who had 3-0 on the Super Six but I certainly didn’t think it would be as easy as that!

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Leeds United's Jack Harrison scores his side's third goal in their 3-0 victory over Fulham yesterday. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

To be fair, the half-time 1-0 was a bit of daylight robbery and even a sublime finish from Patrick Bamford did nothing to disguise the fact that Fulham were bossing it. The changes at half-time though, and the arrival of Pablo Hernandez on the scene, changed the whole complexion of the game and, who knows, maybe our season.

Eight points clear of third, with seven games to go, ought to be a position of certainty, but so should a 2-0 lead over Derby with 45 minutes to go; and we know how that ended. So, let’s get this next game over first; a win over Luton with another decent performance and we can probably put the champagne in the fridge.

The difference between this game and Cardiff was straightforward; no mistakes and three clinical finishes. That’s all we need now for the next seven games and we will finally arrive in the promised land.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

Gjanni Alioski celebrates his goal against Fulham with Luke Ayling. Picture: Simon Hulme.

MATTHEW EVANS

Just what we needed, just at the time we needed it. How often have we been able to say that as Leeds fans? This win against Fulham is surely the moment that being promoted looks more likely than not.

If we had been Fulham, desperate for a win to keep our automatic promotion hopes alive, then you can bet our game would have played out in exactly the same way. More possession, more composure and more danger yet still 1-0 down at half-time.

United looked undeterred by the unusual balance of play and just went about taking their chances (at last!).

Marcelo Bielsa on the sidelines against Fulham. Picture: Simon Hulme.

By the end of the game, every single one of our goals and assists had come from players who didn’t play the full 90 minutes. Pablo Hernandez found himself subbed on and off in the same half. That is usually a badge of shame for a player but, in this instance, it’s testament to how quickly Hernandez stamped his mark on the game.

We’ve got tests ahead of us but none as big as Fulham on paper and an eight-point lead as a cushion. On to Tuesday night’s game against Luton.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

KEITH INGHAM

Jack Harrison celebrates with the crowdies after scoring against Fulham. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

As kick-off approached I took myself off for a walk in the rain with Adam Pope and Noel Whelan in my ears for company.

The stress of waiting for kick-off against Fulham was nearly unbearable. I might wonder why I was so stressed as Leeds blew their opponents away with a superb second-half performance in a 3-0 win that took them to the top of the Championship and 10 points ahead of their visitors.

A surreal atmosphere greeted the two teams with Marching on Together blasting out of the Elland Road PA system and 15,000 cardboard fans in attendance.

Leeds started positively and Fulham were lucky to still have 11 players on the field when Mitrovic stuck his elbow into the face of Leeds defender Ben White.

Leeds though brushed off the incident by taking the lead, Helder Costa found Patrick Bamford who side-footed United ahead.

Although the away side had the majority of possession they couldn’t get a goal before the break.

Tyler Roberts is challenged by Fulham's Harry Arter. Picture: Simon Hulme.

Leeds changed things after half-time with Pablo Hernandez and Gjanni Alioski replacing goalscorer Patrick Bamford and injured Helder Costa.

Hernandez proved the match-winner as he dominated the Fulham midfield and it was no surprise when United doubled their lead through Alioski.

Leeds had their tails up and Fulham looked a beaten team before the best move of the game finished them off. Hernandez put a wonderful ball over the Fulham defence that dropped at the feet of ‘Jacky’ Harrison, the winger went through on goal and put the ball through the Fulham keeper’s legs.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez, although all the team deserve credit.

JACOB STARR

Brentford’s win on Friday night against a lacklustre West Brom meant Leeds had to do anything but lose against Fulham.

They went above and beyond that with three enormous points and a healthy 3-0 scoreline with goals from Patrick Bamford, Gjanni Alioski and Jack Harrison.

The half-time introduction of Pablo Hernandez swayed things in the Whites’ favour, as despite leading at the break, Fulham were heavily on top with Anthony Knockaert seeing various shots go awry.

The Spaniard got his foot on the ball and dictated play in the second half, most notably providing a wonderful assist for Harrison’s killer third goal.

Aleksandar Mitrovic should have seen red inside two minutes for a deliberate elbow on Ben White, but was marshalled well by White and Liam Cooper throughout. The significance of the win means United replace the Baggies at the summit of the Championship, eight points ahead of third-placed Brentford with seven games to play. A crucial, crucial win.

Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.

ANDY RHODES

Well, I think the only thing to say after that performance is wow. If ever there was a way to silence the doubters and settle the nerves this was definitely it.

Losing this game would have closed the gap between Leeds and third place to four points. By winning it, they’ve doubled that gap. In what was an unbalanced first half it was simply important to stay in front with Fulham being so dominant.

In the second half, Pablo Hernandez and Gjanni Alioski simply changed the game. With Pablo’s influence, United picked Fulham off and once the second goal went in, they looked beaten.

Ben White and Liam Cooper marked Aleksandar Mitrovic out of the game, although that job should have lasted just two minutes.

Without Mitrovic to keep quiet, the performance wouldn’t have looked quite so impressive.

They say the best teams find ways to turn games on their heads. Leeds certainly did that.

Continue in this vein and they could be tough to stop.

Man of the match: Ben White.

MIKE GILL

Leeds started the game unchanged and this came as no surprise despite the availability of Pablo Hernandez.

A typically lively start culminated in a fine goal by Patrick Bamford.

After only 10 minutes, the big striker put the ball in the bottom corner of the net after great work from Helder Costa.

As the first half wore on, Fulham squeezed their way back into the game and ended the half with more than 60 per cent of the possession.

Marcelo Bielsa then made an inspired substitution, bringing on Pablo Hernandez and Gjanni Alioski for Bamford and Costa.

The effect, as the Smirnoff advert used to say, was shattering.

Both of Uniteds goals came from counter attacks. Good running from Jack Harrison culminated in a cross which evaded the Fulham defence but not Alioski who had time to trap the ball before hitting it into the bottom corner.

Pablo then picked out Harrison with a glorious pass. The winger overcame all obstacles before slotting it through the legs of the advancing Marek Rodak.

Man of the match: Jack Harrison with a special mention for the immaculate Illan Meslier.

***

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Some of the 15,000 crowdies at Elland Road. Picture: Simon Hulme.