Leeds United never do things the easy way do they?
We saw the best and worst of Leeds as they claimed a ridiculous 5-4 win over Birmingham City at St. Andrews.
Leeds started brightly and were 2-0 up with a quarter of the game gone, with Helder Costa and Jack Harrison getting the goals. However, Leeds’ performance dropped and 16-year-old Jude Bellingham (who was very impressive) pulled one back. 2-1 up at half-time, so far so normal.
Birmingham got themselves level from a corner, Lukas Jutkiewicz heading home, but Leeds retook the lead at 3-2 with a fantastic goal.
Leeds never looked like hanging on, and in the 83rd minute Jeremie Bela brought the hosts level - again from a set-piece - but Stuart Dallas popped up just one minute later to put Leeds back in front.
Jutkiewicz scored at the back post from a good cross to equalise in the 91st minute and claim a point for the hosts but in the 95th minute Helder Costa and Luke Ayling combined down the right, Ayling crossed and Wes Harding put the ball into his own net.
UNBELIEVABLE. UTTERLY RIDICULOUS. In it’s own remarkable way that was probably the most appropriate way to end the decade. An absolutely incomprehensible 4-5 victory. We wouldn’t do it any other way, would we @LUFC?— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) December 29, 2019
Leeds get the three points, Leeds are top of the league again, Leeds need to sort themselves out a bit because we won’t get away with defensive play like that if we keep doing it.
Kiko Casilla - Came for a corner in the 14th minute and got nowhere near it - ended up leading to the opening goal. Much more convincing the next time he came for a cross. No chance on the goal. Didn’t do well enough on the second goal, had a man on him but needed to be stronger, went straight to Jutkiewicz. Came for the free-kick leading on the third Birmingham goal and got nowhere near it. Set up some great counter attacks with quick distribution. If a keeper is at fault either wholly or partially for multiple goals, they can’t get a good score. 4.5/10
When is Kiko Casilla’s personal hearing? Asking for a friend... #lufc— David Kevin Williams (@DaveKWilliams) December 29, 2019
Luke Ayling - Decent first half, put in the cross which lead to Leeds second goal. Sloppy start to the second half but did get fouled a couple of times. Then, scored an absolute screamer of a goal to put Leeds 3-2 up, he has had a fair few chances lately but this wasn’t one of the better ones and he hammered it in off the far post from the edge of the box. Good pass to find Dallas for Leeds fourth goal. In down the right in stoppage time and fires a great ball across which is turned in to his own net by Wes Harding for the winning goal. Far from perfect, but a goal and two assists from right-back. 8/10
Ben White - Leeds awful at defending set-pieces today, both CBs have to take some blame. Looked more assured than Cooper but neither of them were ever comfortable. 6/10
Liam Cooper - Big header to set Leeds away for the opening goal. Looked out of position for Bellingham’s goal which got Birmingham back in the game. Distribution not great. Leeds awful at defending set-pieces today, both CBs have to take some blame. Also, as captain, when Leeds are panicking like that he has to do more to get them back on track. 5/10
Ezgjan Alioski - Good awareness to spot Jack Harrison and a good lay-off to him to set up the second goal. Nowhere for Jude Bellingham’s goal when Maxime Collin ran down his side of the pitch completely unchallenged, appears to be because he moved inside as he has a man marking job, there are times when you have to have awareness and move to the ball - this looked like one of them, or communication has to be better and someone has to cover.
You can see it happening, Alioski bombing forward, fails to release the pass and caught out of position yet again. #lufc— Elliott Daniels (@Elliott_MOT) December 29, 2019
Excellent crossfield ball to find Ayling to get the assist for Leeds third goal. Went down too easily in build up for Birmingham’s fourth goal and his lacking of tracking was a big factor in the goal. For once in his life, looked really tired. Far from perfect but two assists helps the rating a lot. 7.5/10
Kalvin Phillips - Struggled to impose himself in the first half, as did the whole central midfield. Same line up in the middle as Preston, similar problems today. Played as part of a back three and in midfield but exerted no control on the game. Did as well as anyone in the air. 6/10
Mmmm where do you start #lufc what character and tenacity. I think we’re starting to see a team that will run away with this league... I think we need a back up for Phillips who I think needs a well earned 2 weeks off. Get through this period with points in hand and we go up.— James Rathbone (@JamesRathbone94) December 29, 2019
Stuart Dallas - Doesn’t look as comfortable in CM and in the first half we had similar issues to against Preston without him doing anything particularly wrong. Energy levels remained high throughout, probably looked the fittest player on the pitch. Scored his second in two games with a good left-foot finish to put Leeds 4-3 up. Overall not great, but what an important goal. 6.5/10
Mateusz Klich - When Leeds were playing well in the opening 25 minutes he looked sharper, as Leeds’ levels dropped so did his. Disappeared from view as the game got more and more stretched, still prefer him when he is the deeper . 5/10
Helder Costa - Excellent finish across the keeper for the opening goal having showed good pace and awareness to skip past his man and get in behind. Not in the game enough but was a big threat when he did. Excellent composure to play in Ayling for Leeds fifth goal. Second half was not suited to him but he did work hard getting back to cover. Lost the ball more than you would like. 6.5/10
Can we now start considering Helder Costa as a key player please? #lufc— Hopey (@hopey550) December 29, 2019
Jack Harrison - Had a sloppy first 15 minutes but then burst forward despite being fouled and produced a good through ball to get the assist for Helder Costa’s opening goal. Then scored the second five minutes later, struck it well but had some fortune with the deflection. All the usual work ethic, good play in the build up to Leeds fourth goal. Was the player closest to the winner from a Leeds point of view but I thought it was an own-goal, I have not seen a replay. 7.5/10
90' JDFAHDKSDBAHKSDBASDALSJDAJSDSAJDAJSNDAJSDNAJKSNDAJSNDJANSDJNJSNDA?????? GGGGOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!! JACK HARRISON!!! 4-5 pic.twitter.com/QE335rwesf— Leeds United (@LUFC) December 29, 2019
Eddie Nketiah - Good hold up play in build up to the second goal. Allowed Harlee Dean to bring the ball out from defence in build up to Bellingham goal, but there were bigger lapses further back in the team - one of those where he probably should have just cynically pulled him back and given away the free-kick. Made a lot of runs in behind and held the ball up consistently first half, only real struggle was aerially but that is to be expected. Less involved in the second half aside from getting booked for diving, which looked fair. 7/10
Nketiah booked - for diving. Went down in the box under pressure from Harley Dean.— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) December 29, 2019
Tyler Roberts (for Nketiah, 81mins) - Couple of touches, one strong tackle. Not on long enough to score but good to see him back. N/A
Gaetano Berardi (for Klich, 85mins) - Brought on to “sure things up”, didn’t work. Made a good tackle to keep the ball alive in the build up to the winning goal. Not on long enough to score. N/A