In February, everyone was calling for Steve Evans to go. Today, the internet wants to make him a saint. Leeds United won a second straight game on the road today and their third in a row, topping Blackburn in a dominant performance behind goals from captain Sol Bamba and the ridiculously-hot Mirco Antenucci. An 89th minute goal for Blackburn substitute Simeon Jackson and an insane seven minutes of added time made it a little tense in the end in typical Leeds fashion, but the right team walked away with the three points today.
How is this happening?!?
Leeds looked dead set on relegation in the month of February, with the 4-0 first half at Brighton the low point in what was shaping up to be the worst season in recent memory. The Anti-Cellino protests were the headlines just two weeks ago, people. Now, three wins in a week has taken the focus elsewhere (though the #TimeToGoMassimo crowd's arguments still stand), and it's fun to be a fan again.
We'll just say it clearly, Blackburn didn't really threaten in this game at all. They scored a goal in the 89th, and the extra time got nervy, but it was all Leeds on the road for 88+ minutes, and the few chances came once Leeds let off the pedal a bit early.
The game started a bit slow, with this Alex Mowatt free kick the only real action of the first 30 minutes. Blackburn keeper Jason Steele had the save of the game to keep it scoreless at that point... thanks to Debbie for the video from the away end!
A beautiful strike, an even better save. Can't be mad about that. Then, the first goal of the game came on a corner, of all things, in the 32nd minute. Off a corner service from Alex Mowatt, Sol Bamba was left unmarked and absolutely slaughtered the ball, kicking a volley firmly into the top of the net past Steele. The captain, who has had a rough run of play on the defensive end in recent weeks, put the team into the lead and had few mistakes today on the other end. We'll take it, Sol.
The game continued in the second half with Blackburn pressing in the first few minutes, but never really amounting to anything worthy of Marco Silvestri's concern. The poor pitch made for some sloppy play, but Mirco Antenucci got onto a counter, courtesy again of Alex Mowatt (have we said his name enough?), and slotted a ball past Steele to put Leeds up 2-0. Thanks to Dave for the video from the away end!
Leeds ran the rest of the game, with ole's coming from the away end multiple times, until a fluke goal in the 89th made things a little tense. The referee unexplainably added six minutes of stoppage time, and then gave Blackburn seven to let them try to find a point at home, but Leeds held on for the three points and their third game win in a row. The Whites snapped a seven game winless streak against Rovers, and stopped their four game winning streak at home as well. They distanced themselves from the relegation zone even further and even had some fans talking about a playoff push. Regardless of that slim possibility, three wins in a week makes for a happy fanbase, and a happy coach.
For all his rough edges, Steve Evans has to receive some credit for this win and this streak. After the four-goal loss, this team has found some passion, broken several historic losing streaks, connected with away fans, and put together three wins in three games. The coach's combination of Bridcutt and Diagouraga is working in the midfield, and with the return of Chris Wood from injury and Mirco Antenucci deciding he can score goals again, we have a scoring punch. Berardi solidifying the defense, Silvestri playing out of his mind on Tuesday, Bamba scoring goals... What is this team you've given us in March, Steve? I like it.
All that said, it's still early on your Saturday: get outside and find some way to enjoy your three game winning streak. With all we've been through this season (and this decade), we deserve it. Thanks for reading. #MOT