As Leeds United fans around the world prepared for a Boxing Day special, the mutterings of Kemar Roofe’s 95th minute half-volley at Villa Park three days earlier could be heard creeping around Elland Road. But that was 72 hours ago. Now, Leeds United were confronted with a new obstacle - Blackburn Rovers.
Four matches in ten days is certainly a stern test for any team and has the potential to be a very unforgiving period as the players are required to prepare mentally as well as physically. Moreover, a reminder that the visiting team from Lancashire handed Leeds United their second league defeat of the season back in October, albeit Blackburn’s form has dipped since then and the talismanic Bradley Dack has been underperforming, also gave the fans something to worry about.
Indeed, it was Blackburn’s Jack Rodwell who came closest to scoring in the opening 20 minutes. After that, however, Leeds dominated as Leeds usually do and a neat pass from Barry Douglas allowed Jack Harrison to smash in a cross which was equally smashed into the net by Derrick Williams for an own goal on the 33rd minute. Leeds should have buried the game in the remainder of the first half with the amount of chances they created. Instead, Leeds Ayling decided to give away a penalty less than a minute after the referee had blown for the second half kick-off. Charlie Mulgrew as a result placing the ball in the bottom right corner past Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s reach.
The second half was frustrating for Leeds United. Harrison, who was encouraging, was brought off for Jack Clarke but Clarke was unable to replicate his heroics shown at Villa Park and had a much quieter game as he switched to the right-wing. Kalvin Phillips’ inexperience at centre-half then manifested itself on the 89th minute (despite being excellent in the role), as he rushed out and tripped Blackburn’s Rothwell. Subsequently, Mulgrew’s left foot again slotted the ball past the wall and through Peacock-Farrell’s oily hands for what surely was the winner as people headed for the exits. Game over.
Goal-line technology then sent the remaining supporters into fierce roars as a goal-mouth scramble occurred comprising of yellow shirts, Jansson, Hernandez and Roofe with the latter scoring the equalising goal. 2-2. Fine. A draw is acceptable considering the circumstances.
Except neither Bielsa nor this Leeds United team plays for draws. What happened next was truly a Christmas Miracle as Hernandez swung the ball in beautifully for Roofe to beautifully guide the ball into the bottom left corner with his head. 3-2. Delirium, chaos and limbs flying everywhere. This topped the win over Aston Villa, and this season has so far topped any other season from the last decade. All of which makes it hard to imagine 2019 will be just ‘another’ year. Either way, and whatever happens, it is precisely moments like this which makes you feel sorry for people who don’t support Leeds United.