At numerous stages throughout the season we have used the words ‘defining moment’ to describe Leeds’ performances, but last night we witnessed a Leeds United team not only put in a defining performance, we also witnessed them evolve into a serious contender for promotion and a Championship winning side.
Every time we watch this Leeds side they just get better and better – it’s a pleasure and an honour to watch. Every player gave everything to the cause last night for a controlling and impeccable victory.
On a big night and in a big game, that's a massive performance. You could fall in love with a team playing like that. This crowd have.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 13, 2017
I could name many more, but here are today’s three takeaways points from last night’s wonderful performance at Elland Road.
Talking Point 1: Pablo Hernandez is magic.
I must start with the Spanish wizard. In the past, we found that those who were on loan and then sign on a permanent basis seem to struggle, but not Hernandez last night against Derby: he was absolutely class throughout the whole game. He just glided off defenders with ease and did it time and time again last night. The accuracy of his passing was magic and left the Derby defence confused and amazed. The tricks in the first half between him and Vieira was a joy to behold
We had, I think, 502 or so corners in the game, and I can’t remember one that he didn’t place expertly wherever he intended it to go. The ball for the goal is a prime example of that - whipped wonderfully into the 6 yard box giving Wood the chance to ease the ball into the net just before the break. 10 out of 10 for the player playing in the number 10 role (even though he wears the number 19 shirt this season).
Talking Point 2: The fantastic full backs
Defensive injuries were a concern before the game; no Jansson, Taylor or Cooper available. However, like all great men when called upon, Berardi and Coyle stood up and showed the depth of quality this squad has on the back line.
I mentioned in the preview the need to ‘not give Ince an Inch’ and other than the early chance, which was dealt with by Green, Berardi had Ince firmly in his pocket and kept him there for 90 minutes. To be honest, I wonder if he’s still in there and one lucky fan will get to take home both Berardi’s shorts and Thomas Ince.
Berardi’s decision making is always something that has impressed me, and last night was no different. His ability and defensive knowledge was on show throughout. His little nudge on Nugent in the second half was testament to that.
Lewie Coyle started his first league game of the season last night and looked like a man who had played every game. The confidence you can see in him is amazing. Last night he had it all; tackling, passing, blocking and the ability to drive and beat players on the wing. We saw the maturity of the lad when Vydra pushed through to hold his ground and shut off the space, and this just shows the potential he has. He is another fantastic youth product we have seen come from Thorp Arch.
Lewie Coyle with the best piece of defending you'll see all season. Top class. #MOT— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) January 13, 2017
Talking Point 3: This game was a perfect story.
Every great story is made up of a wonderful beginning, an intense and endearing middle and an emotional ending - and last night was the perfect story. We had commented over the last few weeks on the need for Leeds to play better in the 1st half, and last night they produced the best first half performance I can remember for a long time.
They never gave Derby anything, they were relentless.
The movement and interplay was the best I have seen in a Leeds side since we got relegated all those years ago. The quick, confident passing left me nearly in tears and we should have been further ahead going into half time.
We all expected Derby to have a go early in the second half and that’s exactly what happened. They made two changes at the break, which just shows you how dominating we were in the first half. Even though Derby had a go, we just let them and it turned out that that they just weren’t hard enough - we just soaked their feeble attempt at getting an equaliser and brushed it off.
After the hour, and Derby’s attempt to have a go, we took control and watched as the Leeds side started to express themselves and finish the game in complete comfort.
Leeds Match Stats. Was a great performance and dominated play, yet only 48% possession from a team missing Jansson, Taylor and Sacko pic.twitter.com/fUKFXfYrbL— John (@John_MooreMOT) January 13, 2017
We are now only 4 points behind Newcastle and 8 points clear of Derby in 7th and, after what we did to Derby tonight, it feels like a whole lot more. Sean Ryan called Garry Monk ‘the messiah’ and the players ‘the chosen ones’.
Well, we are ‘the disciples’ and last night against Derby County, Leeds took us to church. MOT.