Leeds United hosted West Bromwich Albion in a match that would go a long ways towards determining who would be in the automatic promotion spots and who would be in the playoffs at the end of the season. With a win, Leeds would go above Norwich City and Sheffield United on top of the league, while West Brom would close to the gap to third place to a single point with a win.
Despite the fear and nerves of many Leeds supporters, the match ended up showcasing just how good Leeds could be and putting Leeds back on top of the Championship with a 3-0 victory over a promotion rival, and putting the pressure back on Norwich and on the red half of Sheffield in the upcoming Steel City derby against Sheffield Wednesday.
Leeds opened the scoring after 16, yes 16, seconds. Pablo Hernandez, the Spanish magician, ghosted along the top of the box and was fed a pass, and when the defender in front of him hesitated, Hernandez took the shot and blasted the opening goal of the match past Sam Johnstone.
Leeds went up after 16 seconds, and just went to work on West Brom. To say that Leeds was the better of the two sides doesn’t do it justice. Leeds were at their dominant best, passing the ball around for fun and generally creating havoc for the other team.
Even when West Brom tried to break, they didn’t get far as Leeds were all over the pitch, intercepting the ball and looking to turn pressure into offence. It often seemed as if Leeds had an extra man on the pitch, such was the domination and overall pressure by Leeds.
Leeds United got a second in the 28th minute as Patrick Bamford did well to get on to a through ball in the box and the big posh lad did well to put it past Johnstone and into the back of the West Brom net. Leeds up 2-0 within the first half-hour, and all of the questions about “energy” and “bottling” suddenly seem very, very far away.
Everything has worked up to this point - interplay and movement of players like Roberts, Harrison etc been impossible for West Brom to read. Hernandez obviously fancies this. Harvey Barnes notable by his absence. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 1, 2019
A remarkable first half of football against a team that had taken Leeds to the cleaners earlier in the season, and only a few days removed from a bad loss away in West London. Leeds absolutely took the game by the scruff of the neck early on, and didn’t let up at all.
West Brom enjoyed a few decent passages of play in the second half, but just when they thought they might be able to get back into the match, Bamford scored his second goal of the night. Tyler Roberts made a brilliant run with the ball and picked out Bamford. Once again, Bamford did very well to get his shot off, and the ball still found its way into the back of the net despite bouncing off of Craig Dawson’s leg on its way toward the net.
Leeds saw out the rest of the match in fine fashion, and will now go back on top of the league. Stuart Dallas was taken off in the 76th minute, replacing Jack Harrison, who had one of his best matches in a Leeds shirt, and Tyler Roberts was taken off in stoppage time for Jamie Shackleton, who came on to a good round of applause.
West Brom are completely gone. Shackleton with virtually his first touch gets down the right and lays on a tap in for Alioski. 4-0. An absolute hiding. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 1, 2019
And then, with merely seconds left, Shackleton cut loose in the West Brom box and put a beautiful pass across the face of goal for Gjanni Alioski to tap in. 4-0 and a remarkable win.
This has been a season that has tested the faith of Leeds fans everywhere, but matches like this and the January match against Derby County have kept faith in Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds to do something special this year, no matter what.