Second-half goals from Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas and Raphinha lifted Leeds into the top half of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Southampton.
Bamford netted his 13th goal of the season from Tyler Roberts’ turn and release in midfield before slotting past Alex McCarthy when clean through less than two minutes into a second half they would go on to dominate.
Before the break, Southampton had enjoyed the better of the game and were initially awarded a penalty for Diego Llorente’s foul on Nathan Tella before it was overturned by VAR, and in the final minute of the half Che Adams was denied a goal from a free-kick which had been taken before Andre Marriner had blown his whistle.
But with Bamford’s goal behind them, Leeds secured their first win in three games with a fine second from Dallas 12 minutes from time, before Raphinha beat McCarthy direct from a free-kick (84) to move the hosts up to 10th, and exceed their entire points tally from the last season they were at this level.
Leeds: Meslier (7), Ayling (6), Cooper (6), Llorente (7), Dallas (7), Raphinha (8), Struijk (6), Klich (6), Harrison (5), Roberts (7), Bamford (7).
Subs: Costa (7), Alioski (7), Hernandez (6).
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Bednarek (5), Salisu (6), Vestergaard (6), Bertrand (6), Ward-Prowse (7), Romeu (7), Armstrong (6), Tella (6), Adams (6), Redmond (5).
Subs: Ings (6), Minamino (6), Djenepo (5).
Man of the match: Raphinha.
Leeds rise to occasion to see off Southampton
Leeds’ reputation as the Premier League’s high-intensity, all-action side looked a more appropriate description of Southampton in the early minutes, who should have led when Jannik Vestergaard was left unmarked to head a gorgeous James Ward-Prowse free-kick wide.
Tella, making his first Premier League start, was a livewire from the off and fired straight at the goalkeeper after a bright run off the left, before his next foray into the area brought a penalty from an alleged foul by Llorente.
But after visiting the VAR review monitor, referee Marriner overturned his initial decision, which would not be his only moment of controversy of the opening half.
After a slow start Leeds grew into the match and saw Roberts fire over when well-placed and Liam Cooper’s rising effort from a free-kick turned over, before Adams tucked home Ward-Prowse’s quick free-kick only to be denied as Marriner had blown his whistle marginally after the ball was first kicked.
Southampton were left smarting at the break, but two minutes after half-time things got far worse as Roberts was given time to turn in midfield before feeding Bamford, who had ghosted inside Jan Bednarek and beat McCarthy with a fine finish.
He should have doubled their advantage soon after but shot straight at the goalkeeper from close-range, before Llorente’s effort from Raphinha’s pull-back was kept out by another fine stop.
Southampton’s best second-half opportunity game through another Vestergaard header. The defender connected well with Ward-Prowse’s corner, but saw goalscorer Bamford turn defender to clear his shot off the line.
Leeds have grown a reputation for never letting up, and as Southampton pushed forward for an equaliser they pounced. First substitute Douglas Costa squared for Dallas to smartly beat McCarthy from distance, before Raphinha embarrassed the goalkeeper with a low free-kick he should have kept out.
A second half to forget extended Southampton’s winless streak to eight games – the longest in the division – while Leeds move onto 35 points, 13 clear of the relegation zone and potentially five from a European spot.
What the managers said…
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa: “The difference between the two teams was not as big as the scoreline. The game was very disputed, even if our offensive game was better than the opponents’.
“We created double the chances they did, but the tempo of game was very intense, very volatile.”
On saying he would not consider alternatives to Leeds until his ‘work is done’: “I simply wanted to reflect that when there is a third of the league left to play for, that many games can offer conclusions that perhaps have influence in the final decisions.
“In no way do I want to put myself in an advantageous position over the club. If the club offer me an extension and I delay it, that would seem as though the club was more interested in me than I am them, and that is not the case.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl: “It’s the same old story, especially in the second half of the season, we have chances, we don’t score, and have a few moments where I think the goal was played one second too early.
“It’s tough to take at the moment, but I must say it was a deserved for Leeds, they had more energy in the second half. I don’t know why, normally we are a very energetic team, but we gave up – and that is what I don’t like. This was not the way we want to defend and fight against them.
“What we cannot do is play one-on-one all over the pitch, because they are strongest. So long as we defended together and were committed, we had everything under control. In the second half, we were stretched.”
Man of the match – Raphinha
Although Raphinha barely had a kick in the opening half hour at Elland Road, once he had only been denied the opening goal by a world-class Oriel Romeu tackle, he came into his own.
The decision to move him onto the left-wing against an out-of-position Bednarek at half-time made the real difference, however, and he ended providing the most key passes (4) of anyone on the pitch, creating superb chances for Llorente and Bamford.
While they failed to add to Leeds’ advantage, he didn’t – and with his late free-kick, is now behind only Ward-Prowse (4) for goals scored from outside the box this season (3).
- Leeds have scored 43 goals in the Premier League this season, last netting more after 25 games of a top-flight campaign in 1991-92 when they won the First Division (48).
- Southampton have lost seven of their last eight Premier League games (D1), after suffering just two defeats in their 15 before that (W8 D5).
- Leeds have kept clean sheets in consecutive home Premier League games for the first time since February 2003 (a run of 4).
- Southampton have failed to score in four of their last five away Premier League games, as many goalless performances as they managed in their previous 31on the road.
- No English player has scored more Premier League goals this season than Patrick Bamford (13, level with harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin).
- Patrick Bamford has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions under Marcelo Bielsa than any other Leeds player (48 – 39 goals, 9 assists).
Leeds are back on Sky Sports this weekend, hosting Aston Villa as part of Saturday Night Football on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm; Kick-off at 5.30pm.
Southampton are also next up on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm next week; Kick-off at 8pm.
www.skysports.com 2021-02-23 20:00:00