Leeds United 2 (Harrison 12, Jagielka og 49)
Sheffield United 1 (Osborn 45+2)
I was strangely underwhelmed by the end of this game! It was a game that, had we not won it, we’d all have been distraught considering the form of the Blades this season and the fact this was a Yorkshire derby. Win it we did so we can be happy with that but I just felt it was a shame that the total dominance we showed, and the fact that we were far, far sharper than the Blades in every department, we should have shown our superiority in the scoreline. That we didn’t was down, as far as I could see, to the fact that our final ball and our final shot was more often than not lacking in a touch of accuracy. It was though fantastic to celebrate a win on the day we paid tribute again Chris and Kevin and to Peter Lorimer; they’d have all been well chuffed with the result!
We got off to the perfect start and were ahead with a beautiful goal in the 12th minute. Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Dallas, Roberts were all involved down the right before Dallas lost the ball for a split second but then immediately won it back. Tyler Roberts took up possession, pushed it to Raphinha and he waited for the perfect moment to slide it across to the back post for Harrison to tap in; wonderful football!
Then, for more than half an hour, we created plenty of opportunities to add to that lead and ought to have been away in the distance by half time. The best chance was probably when Tyler Roberts braved life and limb to win a hospital pass to touch it through to Jack Harrison who should score; Ramsdale somehow got a touch to deflect the effort wide. That challenge on Roberts by Baldock should have seen the Blade binned for the rest of the game with a red card but there seemed no interest from either referee Graham Scott or VAR. Baldock injured himself enough to be subbed anyway just before the break.
So all looked good as we approached the half time whistle and then another loose pass went astray in midfield and Sheffield United did to Leeds what Leeds had been doing all half. They broke quickly, Leeds defenders were all mesmerised by the ball instead of the runners and no one picked up McBurnie at the back post as the ball was fed to him. His shot across goal was going wide but Osborn touched it in. It was a travesty that it was 1 – 1 with that effort being the only shot on target the Blades had managed while Leeds had 5 from their 12 attempts. The only worry in fact in that first half was the number of corners Leeds gave away but, for once, we weren’t punished.
The winning goal came in the 49th minute; a fabulous long diagonal ball from the influential Tyler Roberts to Harrison, a low cross into the danger area and in it went off Phil Jagielka, one of the Premier League’s deadliest own goal exponents! The second half then followed much the same pattern as the first; Leeds overwhelmingly dominant and regularly creating attempts at goal but failing to convert them and, in addition, there were numerous Leeds attacks that just fizzled out with that poor final pass. That meant that Sheffield, somewhat incredibly, remained in the game until the end despite not hitting the target at all in the second half and only managing a couple of long range shots that didn’t trouble Meslier.
So, the disappointment is just that, not for the first time this season, we couldn’t quite find the icing despite having a perfectly good cake to enjoy. The gulf in class between Leeds and the Blades is a good indication of how we are now a really solid mid-table Premier League side and that’s more than satisfactory in this first season back in the big league. On a really good day, this side is probably capable of much more but I’d guess that we couldn’t do it regularly for the full length of a season. That will need those few acquisitions this summer to push us to the next level and ensure we don’t follow the example of today’s opponents who also had a terrific first season at this level. Then we will be able to start to get regular positive results against the top sides just as we’ve shown this season we almost always do against the poor ones. It will now be fascinating to see how this Leeds side gets on in the next three games: Man City, Liverpool and Man United; any points from any or all of those really would start to look like the icing on the cake!
Leeds Utd Sheffield Utd
Possession 54% 46%
Shots 23 9
On Target 8 1
Corners 5 7
Fouls Committed 12 13