Leeds United 3 (Dallas 13, Bamford 42, Rodrigo 84)
Spurs 1 (Son 25)
Goodness me this team of ours is unfathomable! Almost as unfathomable as our manager, Marcelo Bielsa! How many fans would have stuck with that same team with the likes of Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips available? How many fans complained before the game and assumed we’d be thrashed? Well, for what it’s worth I thought it was a huge risk! But Leeds bossed this game, forced Lloris into three top saves, scored three great goals and, at the other end Meslier was only needed once. Yes, Spurs got one and were inches away from a second thankfully caught by the VAR cameras but this was a dominant Leeds performance.
What that shows of course is that Marcelo Bielsa has the ultimate faith in his players and he knew full-well that the players were all, to a man, far better than they showed us last week and deserved the chance to make amends. Add to that a natural reluctance to throw Raphinha and Phillips straight back into the fray on a squelchy pitch against a team full of such quality players and Bielsa’s decision suddenly seems much more sensible and logical. After all, we’ve come unstuck a few times this season putting players back in before they are fully ready after injury. As more often than not, events proved Marcelo right!
And how the players repaid his immense faith! Whereas Alioski and Harrison were poor beyond belief last week, unable to cross the ball for love nor money, today they were the brightest stars amongst a side full of shining talents, along with the ever reliable Stuart Dallas, the ever improving rocks at the back in Struijk and Llorente and the calm and professional Robin Koch. Where everyone was under par last week, they were all very much at the races this week to mix my metaphors.
Spurs are undeniably a top side but, as they commented on the TV commentary several times, they are a team full of individual quality. Leeds players, like for like are probably less skilled, certainly the current football transfer market would probably say so, and yet as a team we were much stronger than our wealthy opponents. As a team, Leeds were irresistible, the high press was working perfectly and Spurs didn’t like that, didn’t like not having the time to show off those silky skills.
The goals were all teamwork at its best. Alioski and Harrison combined to create a decent ball across the face of goal causing Reguilon to fire at his own goal, a sharp save from Lloris but the Irish Rover there to lift it into the roof of the net. Alli and Son did then show their class as they passed their way through the Leeds backline but it didn’t shake the obvious belief Leeds had in themselves.
The second Leeds goal should give a nod to some decent refereeing as Michael Oliver played a superb advantage. Klich hooked the ball forward, a defender nodded down but only to Dallas who was then clearly impeded but Oliver, whistle to his lips, played on. Dallas stumbled but got the ball to Roberts, to Harrison, Alioski overlapping and a nice pullback for Bamford to stab home at the near post. Leeds didn’t look troubled again after that but the third goal made the score pretty representative of the game.
The third goal showed what we’ve missed lately without Raphinha – he has that ability to find the perfect space from which to get behind the opposition. Klich played it to Koch, Koch played a delightful ball through that Spurs backline to Raphinha wide left and he put it on a plate for a clinical Rodrigo finish. Delightful.
We saw from the post-match interview with Patrick Bamford that there will be no let-up, Bielsa wants us to finish strongly, no doubt not least to prove yet again that any talk of burn-out is garbage! Look forward to some more fireworks in these final three games and who knows, some of us may even be there in the flesh for the finale!
Leeds United Spurs
Possession 53% 47%
Shots 16 11
On Target 7 3
Corners 8 6
Fouls Committed 12 10