Leeds United looked awful for most of the first half and failed to score a goal in what will go down as the final chance Leeds had to make a push towards the playoffs. The midfield looked awful, Felix Wiedwald looked absolutely crap, and even the defence did’t look great. The forwards had barely any chances to score, as Boro collapsed on Lasogga and left him isolated. This was the worst loss of the Heckingbottom era, so far, and this team looks miles from a playoff spot and even the top half of the table.
Leeds started well, earning a corner within the first minute, but Middlesbrough spent most of the first half attacking the Leeds end. Felix Wiedwald flapped at an early cross, but the ball fell awkwardly for Stewart Downing and he was unable to do much with the ball. They continued to pile pressure onto the Leeds box, with only a few poor finishes keeping them off the score sheet.
Patrick Bamford put Boro ahead in the 31st minute after no one closed down Downing and he was allowed to get a clear cross into the box where Bamford simply knocked the ball past Pontus Jansson and into the back of the net. Felix Wiedwald had very little chance to get to the ball, but it must be said that the goal was coming after the amount of decent pressure from Boro.
Traore runs through half the Leeds team, slips the ball out to Bamford who slides a shot under Wiedwald. Poor goalkeeping I'm afraid. 2-0 on 37 mins. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 2, 2018
However, the next goal should have been saved by Wiedwald. Adama Traore parted the Leeds midfield as nether Phillips nor O’Kane closed him down, and the speedy winger played a perfect through ball for Bamford to run onto and the striker scored his second goal as he slotted the ball past Wiedwald. The big German should have saved that goal, and it looks like his confidence is totally shot.
Powderpuff from Leeds. The only way to describe it, minus expletives. Goalkeeper an issue again, midfield not working. Boro deservedly in front. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 2, 2018
Leeds' midfield won just 2 tackles and made 2 interceptions in the first half. Absolutely dreadful. #LUFC— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) March 2, 2018
Boro went into halftime with a fully deserved two - nil lead over Leeds. Nothing in the performance from Leeds even suggested that Leeds would be able to pull a goal back, much less draw level or get a winner. The midfield duo of O’Kane and Phillips, who had looked so good together back in August, looked unable to win a tackle or even make an interception. It was as bad a performance as you’ll see in the Championship.
Looks like we've got a 4-3-3. Dallas and Saiz up with Lasogga. Forshaw, Vieira and O'Kane in the middle. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 2, 2018
Unsurprising, Phillips was hauled off at half-time, with Adam Forshaw and Ronaldo Vieira coming on at half-time. Gjanni Alioski also made way, and while it was slightly harsh on the winger, Saiz needed to shift over to the wing with the switch to a 4-3-3.
With the switch to a three man central midfield, Leeds started to do better at controlling the ball in central midfield, but the club still had trouble getting into attacking positions.
Wiedwald's game seriously going to pot here. Badly sliced clearance leaves Jansson to bail him out. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 2, 2018
Felix Wiedwald continued to have a poor game in the second half, as the German keeper seemed unable to even do the simple things. He was unable to catch anything that came his way and even his kicks started to look awful. And while the defence and midfield have a lot to answer for, the keeper has been so poor that it hasn’t mattered very much.
Bamford grabbed his hat trick for Boro to take a 3-0 lead over Leeds and put the match out of reach. On the replay, it looked as if he was offsides, but Jansson tried (and failed) to block the shot/pass into the box and Bamford was well placed to pick up the scraps and put the ball back into the back of the net.
Caleb Ekuban came on for Eunan O’Kane as the team switched to a 4-4-2, but it was far too little, far too late. The game was honestly sealed the minute that the first goal went in as the team looked dreadful and unable to even string a few passes together. This loss pretty much ends whatever faint chances Leeds had for the playoffs, and even if the club had somehow nicked a place, there was no way that the club would have gotten past any of the other playoff teams.
Wolverhampton, and their star-studded lineup await Leeds next Wednesday. Should be a good time to watch one team that will get into the Premier League next season.