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Leeds Player Ratings - Leeds 2 - 1 Middlesbrough

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A massive improvement all over the pitch and a well-deserved three points.

Leeds United v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Thomas Christiansen made a couple of changes, some forced, some his choice, and it is fair to say the changes worked. The inclusion of Kemar Roofe up front gave Leeds United a much needed injection of energy up front and the central midfield partnership of Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira had some extra bite and combativeness which really helped Leeds knock Middlesbrough off their game. It also means a win over Garry Monk which is nice to be able to say.

Time now to look at each player and how they performed. As always you can tell me how wrong I am @mightywhitespod or @ThruItAllLUFC on twitter.

STARTING LINE-UP

Andy Lonergan - Back to his usual solid performance. Didn’t have much to do, I can only really remember one save from Downing in the first half. Kicking wasn’t great but was fine. Was always going to be an improvement on his outing against Brentford, but this should end the calls for him to be dropped (at least for now). Only major criticism - he punched some crosses that he should really have caught. 6.5/10

Luke Ayling - Back to his usual level of performance. Defended solidly, got forward to help out down the right but was a bit more disciplined in his positioning than in previous games. I didn’t really see the penalty incident from the other end of the ground but having seen a replay on twitter it should have been a Leeds free-kick rather than a penalty to Boro. A few good pieces of defending when Leeds were under pressure at the end of the game. 7/10

Pontus Jansson - Back to his best today. Dominant in the air and good with the ball at his feet. This is the Pontus Jansson that Leeds United need if they are going to get back into the Premier League. Showed good leadership as well to go over and calm the fans in the South Stand after the award of the penalty. His best performance for a long time. 8/10

Liam Cooper - Quieter than his defensive partner but still a very solid display. A few sliced clearances but nothing that put the team in any danger. Between them Cooper and Jansson kept some very good forward players very quiet today. Had a couple of headers on goal and really should have done better with the second one. 7/10

Gaetano Berardi - Left-back has been Leeds’ problem position this season but it wasn’t an issue today. Berardi was solid if unspectacular and just did his job. Wasn’t 100% comfortable and found it harder once Adama Traore was introduced but anyone would struggle against his pace. Did enough to keep his place. 6.5/10

Kalvin Phillips - A return to his more familiar role after some games further forward. On paper had a tough task against Jonny Howson and Grant Leadbitter but made light work of them (to the extent that one of the guys next to me didn’t notice Howson was playing till the 60th minute). Has had flashier performances this season but did exactly what was needed today. Good flick on from Alioksi’s cross to set up the opening goal for Hernandez. Good performance. 7.5/10

Ronaldo Vieira - A lot of the things said about Kalvin Phillips apply, just to a slightly lesser extent. A solid performance but was quieter than his midfield partner. Would be surprised if TC changes his midfield two for Wolverhampton Wanderers away on Wednesday (fitness permitting). 7/10

Ezgjan Alioski - His best game for a while. Started to make some mistakes in the last 10-15 minutes but he looked very tired by that point. More of a threat going forward and more willing to try and beat his man with the ball at his feet. His cross lead to the 1st goal and he did well to get into the position to finish for the second goal. A return to form that was well-needed with people starting to question his inclusion in the starting line-up. 8/10

Samu Saiz - Not at his absolute best but still looked a threat. Unlucky with his effort that hit the post at 2-0 and would have killed the game off. Had a lot more help today than he has in recent games. 7/10

Pablo Hernandez - Another in the best performance for a while category. Good finish for the first goal, really good ball across the box for the second goal. Even made a few decent tackles which has never been a strong part of his game. Man of the Match for me. 8.5/10

Kemar Roofe - Did very well in his role today. Never gave Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala a moment of peace. Sometimes a lone striker has to just run himself into the ground and that is what Roofe did today. Tidy in possession and showed some real quality to beat a couple of players before finding Hernandez in the build up to the second goal. 7.5/10

SUBSTITUTES

Caleb Ekuban (For Roofe, 78mins) - Carried on where Roofe left off. Harried the defenders and chased everything down. Had less impact in attack but by this stage Leeds were on the back foot. Good to see him back in the reckoning. 6.5/10

Eunan O’Kane (For Saiz, 88mins) - Came on to sure up the midfield and Leeds didn’t concede. Barely touched the ball. Not really fair to give him a rating. N/A

Matthew Pennington (for Alioski, 90+3mins) - Came on to provide more presence at the back. Similar story to O’Kane. N/A

THE MANAGER

He gets stick when he deserves it so today he needs to get credit where he deserves it. Picked a front four with attack in mind rather than worrying about the opposition, picked a midfield two with the most energy and did the same up top with Roofe. The team looked a lot more confident than the “scared” team we saw for the past few games and it speaks to some good work on the training ground over the international break. A result that he really needed with pressure mounting on his job, well done TC.