Leeds United 4 (Klich 44, Harrison 60, Rodrigo 77,79)
What an all-round superb performance that was! We showed every side of our game today – strength in the face of a very physical Burnley side, discipline when the Clarets showed their underhand niggly side with little protection from some poor officials, and then the touches of class from the likes of Harrison, Rodrigo and Meslier in goal.
I saw some folk suggesting Leeds were poor at the start of this game but I think they misread what was actually a powerful start to the game by Burnley; actually Leeds did well to stay focussed at that stage and weathered the storm without too much trouble. Then, from about the tenth minute onwards, I think Burnley got the message that they’d need more than a bit of physicality to beat us.
Leeds then started to get into gear and all the best chances were created by the Whites in the first half as well as half a dozen corners that reflected the way Burnley were having to defend. By halftime Leeds had more than twice the attempts that the home side managed, 54% of the possession, and half a dozen corners. All Burnley had to offer was a few bullying challenges by Chris Wood on Meslier and umpteen by Tarkowski on Llorente and Patrick Bamford. Leeds kept their focus and, right at the end of the half showed how the game should be played!
Leeds should probably have been ahead when Pascal Struijk got up for a fine header but directed it wide of the post but then we saw Bielsaball at its finest as Leeds secured the ball at the back, moved it forward quickly to Raphinha and he gave it to Matty Klich on halfway. Mateusz ran, and ran, and ran, while Burnley backed off in a very un-Burnley manner and it was left for Klich to curl a delicious low shot around a couple of defenders inside the right post. In the build-up to the goal Patrick Bamford was shoved over and, fair play, for once Graham Scott played a good advantage.
The start of the second half saw Burnley trying to impose their muscularity but without the guile they needed and when they did get through, from a typically route-one clearance down the centre, Illan Meslier did brilliantly to deny Matej Vydra after he’d robbed Pascal Struijk. After that Leeds moved up through their own gears.
A left wing corner was headed away but only as far as Alioski and he, not for the first time today, mishit his shot but Jack Harrison was on hand with the deftest little back flick to divert it home. Then we had the Rodrigo show as he replaced the battered Patrick Bamford and was just too sharp mentally for the robust Burnley defence. First we saw the brilliance of Illan Meslier again as he denied Gudmundsson after the Leeds defence was undone for another rare Burnley chance but then we witnessed another Leeds move that simply cut through the home defence.
A long clearance was intercepted by the head of Pascal Struijk knocking the ball forward to Jack Harrison and his pass found Rodrigo tight between two defenders. No matter, Rodrigo was too clever and took the ball and lifted it “Harry Kane- like” over Bailey Peacock Farrell; it was a truly classy finish. Two minutes later he was at it again with an almost identical move. This time Phillips played a glorious pass out to Harrison on the left, he came inside and then slid the ball through for Rodrigo this time to control it, go round the keeper, and slot it home! Superb clinical finishing and a sign of a side playing with absolutely total confidence in its own abilities
It’s performances like this that start to indicate that maybe we don’t need too much more this summer, perhaps a couple of top-notch players just to up the class to the next level but, if we can keep this year’s intake of Raphinha, Rodrigo, Llorente and Koch fit and on the pitch at the same time then, even as we are, we will be a match for most Premier League sides again next season.
Another clean sheet, another four goals, and, apart from those Brighton defeats, a clean sweep against the bottom seven sides shows we are already good value for mid-table. If we can now go down to Southampton, probably the best of that bottom seven but a side we’ve already beaten this season, then it will all be set for a rousing finale in front of fans at Elland Road next Sunday. I know many fans have been disappointed to miss out on the Albion game so it’s down to those of us who will be there to represent everyone with appropriate gusto, even through those damned face-masks! I can’t wait!
Burnley Leeds United
Possession 48% 52%
Shots 16 16
On Target 4 6
Corners 6 8
Fouls Committed 10 10