|Leeds United 3 v 1 Swansea City
Wednesday, 29th November 2023 Kick-off 19:45
Farke enthuses over the performance and the win over Swansea
Thursday, 30th Nov 2023 21:57 by Tim Whelan
Daniel Farke thought we were excellent last night against Swansea City, although I’m not sure it was quite as convincing as he made out, even though the win was comfortable enough in the end.
The manager told LUTV “I’m really happy with the result. Today it felt like it was going to be tough, in the past two home games, at half time the games were buried. After thinking we had the lead after 20 seconds and then out of nothing we were behind and working at this level, sometimes these kind of games can be really hard”.
“I’m pleased with the reaction, because sometimes you can lose your nerve, especially against a really good footballing side in Swansea, they are really good in possession and they can hurt you. We didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t give away chances and we managed to turn the game around in the first half, so I was pleased with this”.
“We had a few problems in our pressing, it wasn’t spot on in the first half, we seemed a bit too reluctant, maybe because we conceded the goal. But in the second half we had everything under control, the only thing missing was the fourth, fifth and sixth goal, but overall, it was a really good performance.”
Farke made just the one change to his starting eleven, as Sam Byram was back in place of Junior Firpo. But there was another change on the bench, as Djed Spense was back from injury, though not quite fit enough to actually get on the field just yet. This meant that Ayling was left out of the squad altogether, which surely must be a message that his time at Elland Road is coming to an end.
There was a bit of traffic congestion around Elland Road before the start, which would have been unfortunate for anyone who got there late, because most of the significant action of the first half was crammed into the first couple of minutes. Almost straight from the kick-off Leeds won possession inside our own half, and Rutter was set free to run down the left wing.
His cross found James at the far post, and the Welshman had the ball in the net, but his delight was swiftly quashed by the sight of the linesman’s flag. I wasn’t convinced that he was ahead of Rutter when the ball was played, but as we’re now in a VAR-free zone, we had to take the linesman’s word for it.
I don’t know if it was because we were still shocked by the decision, but what followed was some exceptionally dozy defending as Swansea quickly took the free kick and got on with the game. As the ball dropped to Stuijk he didn’t get anything like enough power on his header, and Patterson took advantage, racing onto the ball and sending an excellent lob over Meslier’s head into the net.
It was important that we got back into the game quickly, and didn’t allow the Swans to grow in confidence while we started to get anxious about being behind. So it was very handy that we grabbed the equaliser only three minutes later. Summerville took the ball forward and played an inch-perfect ball through to Piroe, and his fellow Dutchman sent the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
There has been a bit of moaning from the Swansea fans today about Piroe having the nerve to kiss the badge after this goal, but that’s tough, guys. He plays for us now. The rest of the first half was pretty even, with Swansea at times looking good coming forward, but although they forced a number of corners they didn’t manage to create anything as incisive as Patterson’s earlier finish.
We had a good chance from a corner of our own, but like I said in my last match report, Struijk need to get better at directing his headers when he wins the ball at set pieces. This time he sent it straight at the goalkeeper. But just before the break we did finally get ourselves in front for the first time. It came when Amapadu collected the ball well inside our own half and launched a long ball down the middle of the field.
It might have looked like a hopeful route one tactic, but if you can get the ball anywhere close to Rutter there is always the chance that he will be able to do something with it. And so he did, with an exceptional first touch to control the dropping ball, a second to pass the defender and set himself up for the shot, and the third to fire past Rushworth into the net.
Early in the second half Swansea opted to foul Rutter as he made his way towards goal, perhaps safe in the knowledge that we haven’t had a decent free kick all season. I predicted that Summerville would step up and shoot straight into the wall, but I was wrong. Piroe stepped up and put it straight into the wall. This is where we miss Sam Greenwood, but surely there must be one of the players still here that we could train up to be a free kick specialist.
Rant over. As the game wore on, we began to look more and more comfortable as Swansea began to run out of steam and never offered the same clever passing moves as they did in the first. So when the third goal arrived in the 61st minute it pretty much killed the game as a contest. It began when Byram launched into a fierce tackle just inside their half, winning the ball and sending it forward to Rutter with a single touch.
His clever pass found James, who was able to cut inside and fire the ball into the roof of the net with his left foot. A few minutes later Rodon could have become the third ex-Swansea player to score against his former club when the ball fell to his feet at a corner, but he could only flick it wide of the post.
With 20 minutes left our manager decided to give a couple of players a break with another game coming up on Saturday, so James and Rutter came off for Gnonto and Bamford to have a go. Bamford put plenty of effort in as he continued to search for his first goal since April, but he might help his cause if he didn’t spend so much time either in an offside position or in danger of running offside.
Ten minutes later Summerville was taken off, possibly still feeling the effects of a hefty knock he’d taken in the first half. Firpo replaced Byram at the same time, and for once we didn’t concede a goal to a move down his side of the field. The final change was right at the end, with Struijk made way for Cooper, shortly after getting a bit of cramp. Which might have been the result of two games in four days after coming back from his operation.
And that was about it, as we secured a sixth successive home win to reclaim third place in the table from WBA. And we even made up a bit of ground on the automatic spots despite Ipswich’s comfortable win over Millwall, thanks to Wednesday’s surprising late equaliser against Leicester. So it’s all to play for as we look forward to doing it all again, against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
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