Aston Villa 0
Leeds United 3 (Bamford 55, 67, 74)
If Monday night was a reality check for Leeds, showing how difficult it can be to get a result in the Premier League if you don’t take your chances despite playing well and bossing the game; this was a pointer as to what we are capable of at our very best. It is hard not to think back to the days of Howard Wilkinson and the way his side swept on up through the top division to ultimate glory once they shook off the stresses and strains of the second tier.
Leeds were simply untouchable in this game with hardly a stutter throughout and against a team that had a 100% record and one that already had many pundits suggesting they were the surprise package this season.
Marcelo Bielsa did have to make an early change as he watched Pascal Struijk fly into a couple of tackles and, despite playing well, look like he could easily pick up a second yellow and thus possibly cost us the game. Bielsa had no hesitation putting his faith in Jamie Shackleton after just 21 minutes but neither he nor Leeds missed a beat.
In the second half Bamford put his first half misses out of his and our minds as he found again the touches we’d glimpsed earlier this season, first with a poachers goal, bravely sweeping in a close range loose ball after a Rodrigo shot was palmed away, but then with two sublime finishes that showed real class. First, a left foot shot threaded through the eye of a needle to find the top right corner after a nifty turn on the edge of the box. Then he showed the footwork of Vaslav Nijinsky to find room in a circle of five Villa defenders to calmly scoop the ball inside the left post. Quite sublime.
Villa did fashion a few efforts on goal; Luke Ayling cleared one Grealish effort off the line in the first half and Meslier stopped another with his legs in the second. Meslier also tipped a Konsa volley over the top after some typically Leeds United corner defending but this was all about Leeds United and it was all about adding clinical finishing to the usual domination and chance creation that we know we are always capable of. Marcelo said recently that we couldn’t expect to always be as clinical with our chances as we were in the first four games and it did, as predicted, desert us on Monday, but if Bamford can continue to hit the target like this, and we can continue to create the opportunities for him, then another vital piece of a memorable jigsaw might now be firmly in place in a similar way to how Chris Wood suddenly became clinical in his second full season with us.
This result and performance will be watched with envy by every other Premier League side; we have something very special going on here and I have a hunch it is nowhere near finished yet.
Aston Villa Leeds Utd
Possession 40% 60%
Shots 12 27
On Target 4 9
Corners 6 5
Fouls Committed 14 17