Party time for Leeds United as 8,000 fans enjoy final game of Premier League season

It was party time at Elland Road as Leeds United brought the curtain down on a memorable first season back in the Premiership and fans were there to join in.

Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 9:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 9:34 pm
Pablo Hernandez, who was given a rousing send off in his last Leeds United game.

A 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion seemed incidental as it was a big celebration on a job done well and a rousing send off for departing favourites Pablo Hernandez and Gaetano Berardi.

With 8,000 supporters allowed back in Elland Road they made sure the players knew their appreciation in the first match to be witnessed by fans since promotion was achieved last year and a full season of progression in the top flight has followed.

The old songs were back out again along with a few new ones and it was like old times - except Leeds are now a bona fide Premier League team who look like they really belong there.

Four in four: Rodrigo, who scored his fourth goal in four matches for Leeds United.

Goals by Rodrigo, Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford, from the penalty spot, made sure it was a successful finish to a successful campaign and the result ensured the Whites finished in a highly encouraging ninth place, only three points off a European spot.

The result also showed how well United have progressed as they have ended 33 points above a West Brom side with who they were battling it out for promotion in the Championship just 12 months earlier.

The already relegated Baggies gave it a go in their bid to be party poopers at Elland Road, but were guilty of missing several good chances and eventually went the way of all the other Premier strugglers as Leeds have done the double on all the sides in the bottom four.

The Whites could also have had more than their final tally of three goals as they looked to be doing their best to set Hernandez up for a goal on his farewell and he obliged with a great last performance and several strikes that were only kept out by good goalkeeping from Sam Johnstone.

Roared on by the eager fans, Leeds were quickly into their stride, although they survived an early half-chance as their former player, Kyle Bartley, flicked a header wide.

The ball was in the back of the West Brom net in the sixth minute as Hernandez's low cross was put away at the far post by Jack Harrison, but the ball looked to have been flicked on by Rodrigo who was offside.

VAR did not have much of a look to see whether the Spanish forward had touched the ball so no goal was the decision.

Kalvin Phillips fired a shot over from outside the box, but a legitimate goal did arrive in the 18th minute when from Raphinha's corner Rodrigo pounced at the far post to head home the opener - his fourth in his last four matches.

West Brom looked to hit back with Darnell Furlong's header saved by Kiko Casilla and Callum Robinson firing just wide when found in space on the edge of the box.

But after a rare period of inactivity the Whites doubled their lead when Phillips' 25-yard free-kick beat keeper Sam Johnstone at his near post to give him his first goal of the season.

The second half was more entertaining with Johnstone immediately making amends for his possible error on the second goal, making a good save to keep out a Hernandez volley.

Matt Phillips's scuffed shot managed to beat Casilla at the other end, but bounced back off the post before being cleared - after some hestitation - by Ezgjan Alioski, who could also have been playing his last game in Leeds colours unless he agrees a new deal.

It now resembled the kind of thrilling end to end contest that the Leeds fans have been missing as Hernandez saw another effort saved by Johnstone following a superb move that included an outrageous back flick by the Spanish genius.

Luke Ayling was unable to score his first goal of the season when his shot was well blocked by a defender while Hal Robson-Kanu made space in the home area only to see his shot well saved by Casilla.

Hernandez managed two more efforts in quick succession, hitting one shot over from 20 yards and seeing another from inside the area deflected wide.

Grady Diangana sat Ayling and Alioski on their backsides as he cleverly made space in the area only to blast his shot over and miss West Brom's best opportunity.

The game stopped for two minutes midway through the half for an emotional farewell to modern day Leeds legends Hernandez and Berardi, who were both substituted at the same time. There were hugs all round on the pitch and hardly a dry eye off it.

When the action began again half-time sub Patrick Bamford missed a good chance when heading straight at Johnstone from Raphinha's cross.

Ayling saw a good strike tipped over and sub Tyler Roberts - as lively as Hernandez had been - was only denied by a good Johnsone save.

It seemed a third goal had to come and sure enough it arrived in the 78th minute as Harrison's cross was handled by Okay Yokuslu and Bamford stepped up to take his tally to 17 for the season by confidently putting away the resulting spot kick.

Another goal should have followed when Roberts sent Bamford clear, but the striker sent his shot wide.

West Brom pulled a goal back when a rare lapse from Phillips saw him miscontrol a pass by Liam Cooper and Robson-Kanu pounced to run into the box to score.

Still, United could have added to their tally in added time as Raphinha got in behind the visitors' defence only to see his shot from a tight angle beaten away by Johnstone.

The last action saw Phillips launch into a big tackle. He appeared to win the ball, but was booked and, worse, injured his shoulder. The extent of the injury was not immediately known, but head coach Marcelo Bielsa said he hoped he would still be fine for this summer's Euro Championships.

Leeds United 3

(Rodrigo 17, Phillips 42, Bamford 78, pen)

West Bromwich Albion 1

(Robson-Kanu 90)

Premier League

Attendance: 8,000

Leeds: Casilla; Berardi (Struijk 69), Ayling, Cooper; Dallas, Phillips, Alioski; Raphinha, Hernandez (Roberts 69), Harrison; Rodrigo (Bamford 45).

West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, O'Shea (Robson-Kanu 60), Townsend; Gallagher, Maitland-Niles (Grant 83), Yokuslu; Robinson (Diangana 61), Phillips.

Referee: David Coote