If you thought you needed to sit down and catch your breath after the Liverpool game, Leeds decided to kick the drama up a notch against Bournemouth on Saturday. Now on their first two-game winning streak of this Premier League campaign, Leeds seems to have found inspiration if nothing else, and have played like a team that truly never gives up and fights until the end for two incredible matches in a row.
Coming off a euphoric win against Liverpool at Anfield, the Whites came out inspired. With Elland Road behind them, Leeds started off aggressively and Crysencio Summerville was able to draw a penalty within the first sixty seconds of the match. Rodrigo converted the penalty - a beautifully taken shot into the left side of the net as the Bournemouth keeper dove the opposite direction - and all of Leeds was electric.
That's the start. Now kill them— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) November 5, 2022
The energy was palpable throughout the stadium and Leeds looked threatening on a couple of other occasions immediately after, getting a corner kick and Brendan Aaronson getting into a threatening area. However, just as it felt the momentum had entirely swung in favour of the home side, Marcus Tavenier was able to sneak a Bournemouth goal past Illan Meslier seemingly out of nowhere. Off a cross in, Leeds was unable to clear it cleanly, and Tavenier volleyed it in. It was a disappointing moment for the team and the disappointment on Jesse Marsch’s face was evident as the incredible atmosphere that had been created dissipated entirely.
As the half progressed, Leeds seemed to get increasingly anxious and in the 19th minute, Tavernier got on the end of a long ball where Kristensen seemed to think that Meslier would come out to clear it but he instead stayed back. He was able to get the block, but Tavenier pounced on the rebound before finding Philip Billing who nearly burst the net with his strike into the top left corner. The air came out of the building and Leeds was stunned.
The half was seen out without another goal, but not without some good looks by both teams. Most memorable perhaps came off a Bournemouth counterattack to a Leeds corner kick where Meslier was forced to leave his box for a tackle that saved an almost sure goal had he not handled it well.
After halftime, Marsch made a change, bringing on Wilfried Gnonto for Jack Harrison. Leeds looked very lively to start the half, controlling possession and getting a few really good looks in the attacking third. Again though, just as the Whites looked threatening, disaster struck. In the 48th minute, Bournemouth got going on a quick counter and Dominic Solanke finished right in front of goal with a backheel finish.
kill me— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) November 5, 2022
Responding to a two-goal deficit, Marsch brought on Sam Greenwood for Marc Roca and he made a near-instant impact in the midfield. Just as before, Leeds worked to claw back into the game. They worked possession well and in the 60th minute, Kristensen crossed a ball into Summerville on the left side of the box. He dropped it off to Pascal Struijk whose shot was blocked, bouncing out to Greenwood who squared up and hit a beautiful shot into the top left corner.
From that moment, Leeds had hope. Players were running harder, playing surer of themselves, and the crowd which had been booing and jeering at halftime was now entirely behind the team. Rodrygo had a chance that he missed high and wide, but that only added to the excitement. Then, in the 68th minute, Leeds earned a corner kick and Greenwood’s delivery found captain Liam Cooper for a beautiful low header to draw level. Elland Road erupted once more as the Bournemouth players stood stunned.
Now with everything even, Leeds certainly had regained the momentum, but in a way, it felt like the game had simply started anew. Bournemouth began pushing more and both teams had clear-cut chances. Bournemouth nearly took the lead with a Jack Stacey shot from the right side and later, Leeds had a chance from an Aaronson shot that was deflected right in front of goal.
Entering the final 10 minutes, however, it was all Leeds. They again began to dominate possession and seemed to have all the chances. Then in the 84th minute, that work paid off in a big way. Off of a Bournemouth free kick, Cooper passed a beautiful header down to Gnonto who carried the ball nearly the length of the field before sending a lovely pass to Summerville for another winner in the dying minutes. Again, the scenes were incredible. To do it away at Liverpool was a feeling unlike any other, but to do it at home is always an experience to savour.
kiss me.— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) November 5, 2022
There is still a lot to improve upon. In many moments, Leeds had the game by the scruff of the neck, they let it go and Bournemouth was able to capitalize, namely at 1-0 and at 1-2. The defence was not what it needed to be, there were far too many errors and mental mistakes that hindered their ability to see this out in less dramatic fashion. But in the Premier League there is no such thing as an easy affair and to have the resilience and fighting spirit to claw their way back into the game and not only get a point but push forward and get a win was absolutely inspiring.
With all the discontent around the club these last few weeks, these two wins have been invigorating. Everyone involved with the club knew that Jesse Marsch’s job has been on the line these last few matches and in what could have been the waning moments of his time at the club, this manager, these players, and this team have answered in absolutely massive fashion. Next up is an EFL Cup match against Wolves and then next Saturday away at Tottenham.