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Match Report: QPR 1-3 Leeds United - Rampant Roofe renders Rangers asunder
Sunday, 10th Dec 2017 13:28 by @LucasMonk_

In their second match of the frenetic festive period, Leeds United secured an invaluable three points away to a beleaguered Queens Park Rangers on Saturday after a dexterous hat-trick from Kemar Roofe - his second for the club - proved decisive in a comfortable 3-1 victory for the Whites.

Owing to their manufacturing of a competent and clinical performance in the second half of the match, Leeds United deservedly defeated Queens Park Rangers and recorded their first victory at Loftus Road since May 2011.

The fulcrum of this success was, indisputably, United’s Kemar Roofe, whose superlative hat-trick made his team’s victory certain. Roofe, who had begun the match on the left channel, made his Herculean contribution having replaced Caleb Ekuban as the lone striker in Leeds’ 4-2-3-1 formation, after Ekuban was substituted for Paweł Cibicki due to sustaining an injury.

This terrific triumph in West London elevates United to seventh position in the Championship table, with a mere four points between the Whites and Sheffield United, who are presently the occupants of sixth place.

The Match

After a customary coin toss, it was the right of the hosts to begin proceedings.

United would make a sprightly start to the match. In the sixth minute, Caleb Ekuban diligently pursued Rangers’ Nedum Onuoha, and then goalkeeper Alex Smithies, as he sought to regain possession for Leeds, though no attacking venture would arise from this particular phase of play.

A minute passed before United produced their first foray of the match; Kemar Roofe produced a sumptuous lofted cross that was punched clear by QPR’s Smithies before either Ekuban or Ezgjan Alioski could attack the ball.

The hosts then ventured forth into the Leeds half and produced their first attack of the match. Poland international Paweł Wszołek eluded the defensive endeavours of United’s Gaetano Berardi before surging to the byline and crossing for Matt Smith, but a crucial defensive intervention by Luke Ayling prevented Smith, formerly of Leeds, from scoring his sixth goal of the season to hand Rangers the lead.

Having failed to win in any of their previous five matches anterior to this fixture, QPR were keen to secure only a sixth league victory of the season. Luke Freeman produced an accurate lofted ball for Conor Washington in the 17th minute, but the latter dissipated the opportunity by firing wide of the mark after controlling the ball with his chest.

The visitors then responded instantaneously by creating an opportunity of their own. Luke Ayling received the ball on the right and subsequently produced a precise right-footed cross, but the ensuing headed effort on the part of Ekuban was wayward and did not elicit a save from home goalkeeper Smithies.

QPR’s most conspicuous chance to open the scoring arose in the 27th minute and was squandered by Freeman. An incisive interchange of passes culminated in Wszołek receiving possession from Massimo Luongo on the right before crossing for Freeman, who impetuously fired the ball wide to the perceptible consternation of the home supporters.

Until the 38th minute, QPR had been the superior of the two teams. The complexion of the match was to be radically altered by an injury to Leeds’ Ekuban, who was replaced by Paweł Cibicki. Cibicki was deployed on the right by United head coach Thomas Christiansen - with Alioski moving laterally to the left flank - while Roofe assumed striking responsibilities.

Thereafter, Leeds began to seize control of the match and were thus creating goalscoring opportunities with greater regularity than had been the case with Ekuban spearheading the United vanguard. Indeed, in the last notable act of the first half, Rangers’ Jake Bidwell was forced to make an impeccably timed sliding challenge to prevent Roofe from bearing down on goal.

During the interlude, neither manager elected to make any alterations to their respective lineups. Leeds began the second half as QPR had the first, with United now shooting toward their travelling supporters.

Leeds made much of the early running in the second period, and would create the first discernible opportunity of the half in the 53rd minute. After industrious play from Alioski, Cibicki struck a low effort toward goal and elicited from home goalkeeper Smithies an attentive save.

In response, the hosts then conjured their first effort on target. On the periphery of the United penalty area, Washington turned on a sixpence before unleashing a low effort toward goal; however, United goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald was expeditious in rushing from his line to make a good save and the score remained 0-0.

A breakthrough would finally eventuate in the 63rd minute - for United, who had been, since the half-time interlude, rather more effervescent than they were in the first period. A sumptuous, precise and measured cross from the left channel by Alioski was converted by Roofe in a manner most emphatic. With much guile, Roofe ghosted in between two opposing defenders before planting a powerful header past QPR custodian Smithies and into the bottom corner to prompt exultant celebrations among the travelling supporters situated behind the goal. With that, Leeds had finessed for themselves a crucial lead whilst dealing a grievous wound to their forlorn opponents.

Rangers would create a gilt-edged opportunity only two minutes later, but were soon made to rue Luongo’s careless wasting of it. Bidwell crossed for the Australian midfielder, who could only head the ball into the side netting.

United then ventured forward in pursuit of an extension to their slender advantage. After winning two corners in brisk succession, the third would be followed by a second Leeds goal in the 68th minute. From the set-piece, Alioski made a short pass to Berardi before the latter found Samuel Sáiz on the verge of the area. Sáiz consequently produced a driven effort toward goal that a vigilant Smithies parried clear, but the ball was recovered by United’s Ayling. Ayling passed for Cibicki, who had replaced the injured Ekuban as a substitute and was making his first Championship appearance, on the right and the Swedish attacker manufactured a splendid cross that Roofe gleefully converted from close range.

An unavailing QPR attempted to regain a foothold in the match, but Leeds continued to fashion further opportunities despite their adoption of a more circumspect and conservative approach after Roofe’s eighth goal of the season. With a mere six minutes of normal time remaining, Sáiz latched onto a through ball by Cibicki and raced toward goal - though the Spaniard’s somewhat supercillious attempt to score a third United goal would prove innocuous, bobbling wide of the mark.

Leeds appeared to be negotiating the game’s remainder securely and sensibly, but soon found their hard-earned advantage imperiled after the hosts were gifted a route back into the contest by United goalkeeper Wiedwald in the 90th minute. In the most ignominious of circumstances, Wiedwald injudiciously permitted a lofted ball into the penalty area by Wszołek bounce over him and into the net.

Almost immediately after the goal, Wiedwald was called into a crucial save by substitute Idrissa Sylla to ensure Leeds’ lead remained intact.

The goal instilled a modicum of hope into Rangers and their supporters, but Leeds would make their victory certain in the third minute of added time. As QPR surged forward in their desperate pursuance of an equalising goal, United counterattacked swiftly through Sáiz, who charged upfield with the ball and passed for Roofe on the edge of the penalty area. With considerable self-assurance, Roofe evaded the futile attempts of three home defenders to halt him, cutting inside before driving a low shot through the legs of Smithies and into the back of the net to score his second hat-trick of the season.

The last blast of the referee’s whistle was greeted with audible cheers of approval from the travelling supporters, as United recorded a victory of crucial importance to remain firmly in contention for the play-offs.

Lineups

Queens Park Rangers (4-2-3-1) - Smithies; Wszołek, Onuoha, Robinson, Bidwell (Sylla 71’); Luongo, Chair (Osayi-Samuel 64’); Freeman, Scowen (Hall 78’), Washington; Smith.

Unused Substitutes: Lumley, Cousins, Manning, Wheeler.

Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Wiedwald; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi; Phillips, Vieira (Pennington 80’); Alioski (O’Kane 70’), Sáiz, Roofe; Ekuban (Cibicki 38’).

Unused Substitutes: Lonergan, Shaughnessy, Borthwick-Jackson, Anita.

Half-Time: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Leeds United

Full-Time: Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Leeds United - Roofe (63’, 68’, 90+3’), Wszołek (90’)

Match Statistics (QPR / Leeds)

Possession: 53% / 47%

Attempts: 12 / 12

On Target: 2 / 5

Pass Success: 71% / 65%

Aerial Duels: 52% / 48%

Corners: 2 / 5

Fouls: 13 / 9

Man of the Match: Kemar Roofe (Leeds).

The 24-year-old produced a talismanic display for his team and performed dexterously and alacritously to score his second hat-trick of the season - with only 2.8% of the ball possession and three shots. Roofe exuded much guile to free himself from the clutches of opposing defenders for both his first and second goals, and will likely retain his place in the Leeds team as a lone forward for the visit of Norwich City next weekend.

Booked: Luongo, Scowen (QPR). Phillips, Vieira, Alioski (Leeds).

Match Facts

Venue: Loftus Road.

Attendance: 15,506.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).

Writer’s Verdict:

After a thoroughly prosaic performance in what was a profoundly insipid first half, United’s prolificacy and potency in front of goal proved decisive in what, eventually, was a commendable victory away from home.

Once more, Leeds defended stoutly and not once was former United striker Matt Smith afforded a conspicuous opportunity to inflict anguish upon his former employers with a goal. The partnership established between Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper continues to burgeon in efficacy with each passing match and this will continue to serve Leeds well until the coming of the January window, in which they will fortunately be enabled to purchase a competent goalkeeper to obviate the frightful exigency for one that exists at the moment.

Furthermore, United thoroughly bested their opponents in the middle of the park. Tasked with providing additional succour to the rearguard, the industrious and indefatigable central midfield pairing of Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira played a crucial role in Leeds’ victory; without the significant defensive contribution of the youthful midfielders, United’s front four of Kemar Roofe, Samu Sáiz, Ezgjan Alioski and Paweł Cibicki would not have been able to flourish as freely as they did in the second half.

Though each and every one of the United players - bar Felix Wiedwald - performed competently in this match, it was, incontrovertibly, the performance of Roofe that was most impressive. His copious self-assurance in front of goal was made plain by his scoring of three goals from three attempts, and his Herculean contribution yesterday most surely has secured for Walsall-born attacker the striking berth in Thomas Christiansen’s 4-2-3-1 formation for the visit of Norwich City next Saturday. It should also be noted, of course, that he was ably assisted in scoring his first and second goals by two sumptuous crosses by Alioski and Cibicki respectively, and Cibicki certainly did his prospects of having further opportunities affoded to him in forthcoming matches no harm with an effective performance from the bench.

Finally, the manner in which United finessed three invaluable points from this match has led this verbose scribe to take the view that the squad at Elland Road is certainly capable of finishing in the top six - if it is bolstered by the arrival of reinforcements in January. Until the transfer window opens, it is crucial for Leeds to take full advantage of the fact that their remaining fixtures of 2017 are against Norwich City, Hull City, Burton Albion and Birmingham City. These matches have arisen at a time most opportune; each of them will see United pitted against unavailing opposition, and I cannot discern a single reason as to why they cannot emerge from them all as victors as they did at Loftus Road yesterday.

Photo: Action Images



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