|Reading 0 v 3 Leeds United|
Tuesday, 12th March 2019 Kick-off 20:00
Match Report: Reading 0-3 Leeds United - Pablo powers Whites to big win
Tuesday, 12th Mar 2019 22:42 by @LucasMonk99
Pablo Hernandez struck two sumptuous goals as Leeds United defeated struggling Reading 3-0 to return to the top of the Championship on Tuesday night.
Hernandez made the points safe for Leeds with a pair of sumptuous strikes after Mateusz Klich opened the scoring early on.
But their margin of victory could have been greater. They fashioned several chances to add to their advantage in the second period, but spurned them.
Nevertheless, Leeds were professional and assured for the duration of the match. After a slow start, they did not look back after taking the lead through Klich, and overwhelmed their opponents to claim a vital three points ahead of Saturday’s momentous Yorkshire derby with Sheffield United.
United head coach Marcelo Bielsa named the same starting 11 for the fifth game in succession.
His side got off to a cagey start, and took some time to find their passing range and settle into the match. Andy Yiadom got away from his marker with a smart turn before drawing a save from Kiko Casilla at the near post.
But Leeds soon found their rhythm, and they took the lead three minutes later. Tyler Roberts found Luke Ayling in the box. He played a square ball that Patrick Bamford left for Klich, and the Polish midfielder coolly slotted the ball past Emiliano Martinez and into the net.
Reading sought to respond immediately. Just two minutes after his side went behind, Yakou Meite burst up the right after the visitors relinquished possession. Casilla was on hand to attentively smother the Frenchman’s driven cross.
Leeds then doubled their money in the 23rd minute - and in some style.
From inside the box, Hernandez worked an inch of space and sent a low shot crashing in off the near post and the travelling supporters delirious.
United were really upping the ante now, and Bamford was next to chance his arm, shooting low into the arms of Martinez on 27 minutes.
There was to be no respite for the beleaguered Royals, and when the visitors found a third goal, it came as no surprise.
Hernandez netted his second - a goal even better than his first - as he arrowed a fine effort into the far corner past the despairing Martinez to give Leeds a 3-0 advantage at the break.
The Whites took their foot of the gas a little after the interval, but continued to fashion the better chances.
They were fortunate that Ayling, who had registered two assists, avoided a second yellow card for a foul on Modou Barrow before seeing a shot blocked and being withdrawn for Stuart Dallas.
Reading then elicited Casilla’s only real save of the match. Yiadom met Tyler Blackett’s cross at the back post, but the Spanish shot-stopper was alert to the danger, and tipped the ball over the bar.
The visitors then wasted three chances in succession.
First, Bamford dragged a shot wide and out for a throw in with only Martinez to beat.
Second, the striker scuffed his effort from Ezgjan Alioski’s cutback, before Hernandez lashed the ball wide.
Third, Bamford raced onto Jamie Shackleton’s through ball before firing a low shot just wide of the post.
Leeds then had a final chance when Jack Harrison made his way into the box and drew a parried save from Martinez, before Hernandez blazed the rebound over.
Their margin of victory really should have been greater, but this was an assured performance from United - and one that takes them back to the top of the table.
They will drop back down to second should Norwich defeat Hull at Carrow Road tomorrow night, but for now they can reflect upon a job well done ahead of Saturday’s crucial visit of Sheffield United.
Bielsa’s charges dominated this game and created multifarious chances, and one must say that they have responded to their defeat at Queens Park Rangers in the best way possible. This was their third victory and clean sheet in succession, and their fate is in their hands with just nine games to go until the end of the season.
Match Gallery: 9 photos
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling (Dallas 56’), Jansson, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips, Hernandez, Klich (Douglas 75’), Roberts (Shackleton 69’), Harrison; Bamford.
Unused Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Gotts, Berardi, Brown.
Reading (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Yiadom, Miazga, Moore, Blackett; Baker, East (Harriott 63’); Meite, Swift, Barrow (Olise 69’); Loader (McCleary 81’).
Unused Subs: Walker, O’Shea, McShane, Gunter.
Match Statistics (Reading / Leeds)
Shots: 9 / 13
On target: 5 / 6
Possession: 38% / 62%
Corners: 3 / 3
Fouls: 17 / 12
Referee: Gavin Ward.
Booked: Swift (Reading). Ayling, Roberts, Douglas (Leeds).
Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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