Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa pleased to go into international break with win over Blackburn

Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring his penalty for Leeds United against Blackburn Rovers.
Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring his penalty for Leeds United against Blackburn Rovers.

Leeds United go into the international break in third place, but in good spirits after a fourth successive home win that was fully deserved according to head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

The Whites were helped by a controversial penalty that allowed Patrick Bamford to open the scoring as they beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1, but the win was no less than they deserved according to the Leeds boss.

Bielsa said: “We have shown superiority. We just had one shot to our goal and just one chance for them.

“After we scored twice we had 10 or 12 chances, but we had a lot of spaces to attack we didn’t take advantage of.”

On the importance of winning before the upcoming international break, Bielsa said: “When you win, more than be happy, you are calm and it is good in football to be able to relax.”

“All the players have to rest even more because we do not stop in December in the Championship, in 40 days we are going to have 10 matches and some weeks we have three games in a week.”

In truth Leeds were never at their best, but they could have won by a bigger margin in the end and were rarely threatened in defence by a Blackburn team that managed just one effort on target in the 98 minutes that were played and just three efforts of any kind.

Jack Harrison had fans singing his name after he netted a quick second goal following Bamford’s penalty opener, but later went on to miss a couple of good chances that would have seen the Whites breathe a little easier in the second half.

Despite the game being possibly the poorest in terms of quality at Elland Road this season in the first half there were three goals with Leeds scoring with their first two efforts on goal and Blackburn netting from their only effort of the first 45 minutes.

With passes going astray and both teams working hard defensively it took 23 minutes for the first meaningful shot, Stuart Dallas being allowed to run into space with a defence back pedalling only to shoot over from the edge of the area.

Out of the blue United got a penalty when Luke Ayling ran onto Tyler Roberts’ chip into the area and collided with visiting defender Tosin Adarabioyo.

After bigger shouts for spot kicks in recent weeks had fallen on deaf ears it was something of a surprise to see referee Gavin Ward point to the spot and maybe a surprise too that Bamford stepped up to confidently put the ball into the net to end his goal drought.

It was the spark for a sudden improvement for the Whites who could have added another soon after when full-backs Dallas and Ayling combined on either flank, but a stretching Helder Costa could not turn in Ayling’s low cross.

It was 2-0 on 35 minutes as good work initially in midfield by Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips got the ball forward and Bamford laid the ball off nicely to Harrison who cut in to place his shot into the net off the post.

Blackburn had not managed a single effort in the game until they suddenly won a corner in the 40th minute and defender Derrick Williams powered home a header.

It stayed 2-1 to half-time with Dallas and Ben White sending shots wide from distance.

Early in the second half winger Costa went on a scintillating run from his own half and found Harrison on the edge of the box only for the left winger to fire his shot over.

Harrison then had a shot blocked before Liam Cooper found himself unusually on the left wing and saw his driven cross have to be turned away by Rovers keeper Christian Walton.

Blackburn continued to offer little apart from a Williams volley from the edge of the box which went harmlessly wide in the 76th minute.

Leeds dug in for an onslaught that never came from their opponents and with White outstanding in defence and the back four getting great protection from defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips they saw the game out with no alarms - even when skipper Cooper came off 18 minutes from time with an injury.

It was United who looked much more likely to score in the last 10 minutes as Harrison was played in on the left, but sent his angled shot wide when perhaps the better option was to cross for the free Bamford in the middle and Roberts ran to the edge of the area and forced a diving save from Walton with his low strike.

Another dangerous break ended when Bamford volleyed wide from the edge of the area.

It did not matter in the end as Leeds were home and dry for another three points in their promotion quest. With rivals West Brom, Preston and Nottingham Forest all winning the importance of victory was not lost on anyone.

Match facts

Leeds United 2

(Bamford 31, penalty, Harrison 35)

Blackburn Rovers 1

(Williams 40)

Championship

Attendance: 35,567

Leeds: Casilla, Ayling, White, Cooper (Berardi 72), Dallas, Phillips, Costa (Hernandez 81), Klich, Roberts, Harrison (David (90+3), Bamford.

Blackburn: Walton, Bennett, Adarabioyo, Nyambe, Williams, Travis, Holtby (Evans 69), Armstrong (Graham 60), Dack, Downing, Gallagher (Buckley 69).

Referee: Gavin Ward.