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Leeds United 5 v 2 Newcastle United
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 16th December 2020 Kick-off 18:00
Leeds United 5-2 Newcastle: Magical Whites put Magpies to the sword
Thursday, 17th Dec 2020 11:16 by Lucas Monk

Leeds United responded to recent criticisms of them in sumptuous style by routing Newcastle United at Elland Road to secure just a second home victory since their return to the Premier League.

The resounding victory was no less than Marcelo Bielsa’s side deserved. From the first whistle, they were most vigorous, and exerted copious pressure on the Newcastle goal. Despite falling behind, against the run of play, to a Jeff Hendrick goal in the 26th minute, Leeds levelled through the talismanic Patrick Bamford 10 minutes before the break. Record signing Rodrigo then put them ahead in the 61st. Ciaran Clark equalised from a corner four minutes later, but United pulled away with goals from Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison.

The result means that Leeds have moved above Newcastle into 13th place in the Premier League table. It is also a vindication of Bielsa’s methods. Indeed, he made not a single change to the side which suffered defeat against West Ham United last week, and was duly rewarded for his faith in his players.

Leeds enjoyed the first real sights on goal with Rodrigo firing over after good play from Harrison on the left and Liam Cooper testing Karl Darlow with a header from Kalvin Phillips’ well-taken corner.

However, it was the visitors who took the lead. In a rare Newcastle attack, Jamal Lewis and Ryan Fraser combined well on the left and the latter crossed the ball for Callum Wilson, who flicked it on to the far post. Hendrick stole in to give Steve Bruce’s men the advantage after 25 minutes.

The Whites responded admirably to that setback, with Harrison and Raphinha both going close before the hosts pulled level in the 35th minute. Raphinha clipped in a delightful cross from the right and Rodrigo sent toward goal a looping header that hit the bar. Fortunately, Bamford was alive in the box to nod in the rebound.

Shortly thereafter Leeds almost turned the game on its head when Bamford dispossessed Sean Longstaff before feeding Rodrigo, whose effort Federico Fernandez did well to block.

The second half proved no less frenetic and this was particularly clear in the 52nd minute. Newcastle had appeals for a penalty waved away after Cooper tangled with Wilson in the penalty area, before Raphinha surged upfield on the counter and sent a fierce shot flying past the post.

Leeds then took the lead. Rodrigo sprayed a pass out left to Harrison, who did magnificently to control the ball, before meeting the winger’s superb cross with a thumping header that left Darlow with no chance.

Newcastle restored parity almost immediately with Clark dominating Luke Ayling in the air to head home from a corner.

Conceding from a set piece. An all too familiar story for the Whites this season. On this occasion it did not matter, such was their ruthlessness in front of goal.

Stuart Dallas ghosted in at the far post to nod home Mateusz Klich’s cross in the 77th minute. In the 85th, Leeds broke from a Newcastle corner through Raphinha. He found substitute Pablo Hernandez, who found Alioski, who found the back of the net. Then came the best of them all. Again, Leeds broke from a Newcastle corner, this time through Harrison. The Manchester City loanee galloped upfield and into the opposing half before unleashing a ferocious shot into the top right corner, beating Darlow all ends up and capping off a fantastic victory for his team.

Leeds were simply brilliant. In terms of endeavour and application and energy they have not once let Bielsa down. In open play there are few teams more threatening and exciting and dynamic than them. Newcastle will complain until the cows come home of the decision not to award them a penalty early in the second period, but they deserved nothing from the game, having been unable to cope with the intensity and vivacity of United’s football. Rodrigo and Raphinha led their markers a merry dance all evening and theirs is a partnership that will surely prove fruitful in the coming weeks and months.

Make no mistake, though. The catalyst for this terrific victory was doubtless the indefatigable and selfless showing of Bamford. His goal, a real poacher’s effort and one he entirely deserved on the night, made him the top-scoring player in Bielsa’s managerial career, overtaking Fernando Llorente, who scored 34 for the Argentine at Athletic Club. Yet it was once again his overall contribution to the team’s performance that caught the eye. His ceaseless running, his burning desire to fight for every ball, his selfless hold-up play and willingness to bring others into the match; all are qualities that make him one of the most important players in the team.

Now, would anybody happen to know if there is anything occurring in the Manchester area on Sunday afternoon?

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha, Rodrigo (Hernandez 83’), Klich (Shackleton 89’), Harrison; Bamford (Roberts 84’).

Unused subs: Casilla, Struijk, Davis, Poveda

Newcastle (4-4-2): Darlow; Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Lewis; Hendrick (Krafth 62’), Longstaff, Hayden, Fraser (Almiron 76’); Wilson, Joelinton (Gayle 74’).

Unused subs: Gillespie, Carroll, Shelvey, Ritchie.

Match Statistics (Leeds / Newcastle):

Possession: 69% /31%

Shots: 25 / 10

On target: 10 / 4

Corners: 7 / 4

Fouls: 10 / 13

Match Details:

Referee: Simon Hooper

Booked: Phillips, Raphinha, Klich (Leeds). Hayden (Newcastle).

Attendance: 0.

Man of the match: Patrick Bamford (Leeds)

Photo: Action Images

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