Leeds United 5 (Bamford 35, Rodrigo 61, Dallas 77, Alioski 85, Harrison 88)
Newcastle Utd 2 (Hendrick 26, Clark 65)
Just what the doctor ordered to calm the nerves and re-establish the belief that we will end up comfortably in mid-table this season despite the inevitable ups and downs we must expect. The two Newcastle goals were an important reminder and maybe a warning that we still have work to do to better defend those set pieces, but the rest of the jigsaw was all there and just needed putting in place.
Let’s be clear, the result was in the balance for over an hour. Leeds had, as usual, dominated the possession and had created way more half chances than the Toon but they’d already shown us that they were aware of our weakness in the air at set pieces and we continued to look suspect there all night. So, despite our dominance that result was not secure until we got the fifth. That rocket from Jack Harrison at the end was the icing on a pretty tasty cake though.
The sheer number of attempts we racked up always meant we were likely to hit the jackpot eventually and once Stuart Dallas put us 3 – 2 up and once Pablo Hernandez was on the pitch, we were only ever going to stretch that lead against a very tired and weary Newcastle that had run out of legs having chased Leeds all night. The timing of bringing on Pablo was perfect and, for me, he was the central figure in the side for the final ten minutes; he fills a gap that is always there without him.
I’ve always maintained that Pablo is vital to the way we play but I think I realised tonight that these days, just as he did at the end of last season, he has to be used sparingly and operates best when the opposition is tired both mentally and physically. Pablo still has the legs to play a half maybe but the donkeywork maybe has to be done without him.
There were other difficult moments – a penalty against Liam Cooper is generally accepted to have been missed by the referee and VAR, and Meslier had to be on his toes a few times too – but overall, this is more like we expect to see from Leeds.
For now let’s just glory in those goals – all beautiful in their own way – and let’s try to remember that, when things don’t fall for us, we can still have the belief that it will be ok the next time and more often than not our work rate and ability will be enough to mix it with these sides battling for those positions between the top few fighting for Europe and the strugglers trying to avoid relegation.
Leeds United Newcastle U
Possession 69% 31%
Shots 25 9
On Target 10 4
Corners 7 4
Fouls Committed 10 13