'Mature' Leeds United deliver controlled performance against Sheffield Wednesday to maintain promotion challenge

Manager Daniel Farke was impressed with the maturity shown by his players as they came away from Hillsborough with another important three points.
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Up against a Sheffield Wednesday side scrapping to avoid relegation and bang in form with five wins from their last six matches, the Whites were tested in the first half, but gradually took control and were ultimately deserving 2-0 winners

Patrick Bamford's goal on the stroke of half-time gave Leeds a vital edge at the break and they were comfortable for large periods of the second half when Willy Gnonto capped his impressive display with a well taken goal.

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Manager Farke acknowledged his team were challenged, but he was pleased with the way they dealt with it.

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke was pleased with his side's performance against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.Leeds United manager Daniel Farke was pleased with his side's performance against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Leeds United manager Daniel Farke was pleased with his side's performance against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

He said: "It was a well deserved win and overall a pretty mature performance.

“Obviously you could feel that Sheffield was on a good run, they play with confidence, excited home crowd, they're always good on the on the counter attack and dangerous with set pieces.

"It was important that we had so much control over the game already in the first half. But then you have to tire opponents a bit and take their enthusiasm and aggressiveness away in the first half.

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"Perhaps we allowed them to have a few too many corners, that was the only point I can criticise – one big chance when Illan was there was a world class safe. But apart from this, we were pretty much in control.

"It was a great cross from Junior Firpo and a perfect strike from Patrick Bamford.

"In the second half we were very much in control and scored the second goal. We should have perhaps scored a third.

"They didn't really have one chance and it was a very controlled performance, especially keeping in mind it was our fourth game in 10 days.

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Farke made some big selection decisions for the game, but was backed up by important contributions from Gnonto, Firpo and Archie Gray who came back into the starting line-up.

He explained his selections: “Obviously, everyone knows how much I love Dan James and I trust him and he's amazing for us, and after what he's done also like the last game, there with a crucial goal.

"So it's it's always difficult when I can't allow him to start the game but I think this was more or less a no-brainer because he was so crucial for us during the during the whole season and Tuesday was his first game back in the starting line-up over 90 minutes.

"He put in an unbelievable shift in, the data said his intensity output was top class, we just had two days between the games. For that, a recovered Willy Gnonto, a really good option, it was clear it’s the Championship and with this schedule you can’t always start the same lads.

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"You have to use the squad and trust the squad. It’s always a bit painful for me to leave Daniel out, I rate him so much, but due to the load it was more or less a no-brainer

"The same with Connor Roberts, he covered more than 12k the other day but you have to make sure everyone stays fit, sharp and in a good mood.”

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Leeds were slow to get into their stride aside from an early shot sliced wide by Georginio Rutter following a good passing move

The first chance big chance fell to Wednesday as the ball bounced kindly for Djeidi Gassama after a corner was not dealt with and his shot was saved at close range by keeper Illan Meslier.

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Little happened for a spell before United suddenly had a big chance of their own as Ethan Ampadu's long ball was met by Rutter, but in a one-on-one with James Beadle the home stopper came out on top with a fine save and the rebound could not be put away by Rutter as his second shot was cleared.

Rutter went close again when sending a near post header over from Crysencio Summerville's corner.

Leeds' strong finish to the half was rewarded in the last seconds as a controlled move worked space for Firpo to get a cross in and his delivery was perfect for Bamford to score at the far post.

The good work continued into the second half with Rutter's shot bringing another save out of Beadle after fine build-up play involving Glen Kamara and Firpo.The Whites doubled their advantage when another smart move saw Bamford flick on Meslier's long free-kick downfield and a first time pass by Rutter sent Gnonto racing clear. The Italian then confidently fired home his sixth goal of the season and Leeds had breathing space.

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It could have been three soon after as Rutter and Gnonto combined to play Summerville in, but again Beadle won the one-on-one with another excellent save.

After making changes Wednesday had a good spell and did create one chance when Gassama's long range strike bounced awkwardly and could not be held by Meslier. Michael Smith latched onto the rebound only to see his effort cleared off the line by Ampadu.

But they huffed and puffed for the remainder of the game and Leeds saw it out comfortably to go back into second place in the Championship with their 11th win from their last 12 league matches.Sheffield Wednesday 0

(Bamford 45+5, Gnonto 58)

Friday, March 9

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 30,032

Wednesday: Beadle; Valentin (Smith 65), Bernard, Diaby (Vaulks 65), Famewo, Johnson; Musaba (Wilks 84), Palmer (Iorfa 65’), Bannan, Gassma; Ugbo (Cadamarteri 84).

Leeds: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo (Byram 90+2); Gruev, Kamara; Gnonto (James 83), Rutter (Piroe 88), Summerville (Roberts 83); Bamford (Joseph 83’).

Referee: Sam Allison.