Match Report: Burton Albion 1-2 Leeds United - Wondrous double salvo sees Whites win again
Tuesday, 26th Dec 2017 20:48 by @LucasMonk_
On Boxing Day, in their penultimate fixture of the year, Leeds United exuded copious fortitude to emerge from a competitive duel with Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium as 2-1 winners - thus recording a fourth successive Championship victory to remain in firm contention for a play-off berth.
Owing to their manufacturing of yet another sedulous performance, Leeds United today defeated Burton Albion for the second time this season after a wondrous double salvo in the second half proved decisive for Thomas Christiansen’s charges - who had trailed after Tom Naylor opened the scoring in the 29th minute.
Pablo Hernández’s sumptuous free kick in the 61st minute - his second goal in as many matches - restored parity for United before Kemar Roofe turned the match on its head with his tenth goal of a productive season merely two minutes later.
Head coach Christiansen elected to make one alteration to the starting lineup that vanquished Hull City in a tepid contest on Saturday, with Eunan O’Kane replacing Kalvin Phillips in central midfield.
Following a statutory coin toss, it was the right of United to begin proceedings.
The first conspicuous opening of the match was engendered by Leeds in the 11th minute; Luke Ayling’s precise lofted pass was seized upon by Kemar Roofe, who manipulated the ball with ample dexterity before firing wide of the mark from the verge of the opposing penalty area.
It would then be the turn of the hosts to finesse for themselves their first goalscoring opportunity of the match. After a typically functional Burton attack, defender Tom Flanagan saw his half-volley arch narrowly over the crossbar in the 15th minute of the match.
In the same minute, United then responded with another attacking venture of their own. A looping ball by Pontus Jansson into the Burton penalty area was cleared by the head of Jake Buxton but only as far as the lurking Ezgjan Alioski, who impetuously drove a volleyed attempt wide.
Leeds surged forth into the opposing half once more just two minutes later. Pablo Hernández attempted to convert a threatening delivery from the right channel on the part of Paweł Cibicki from inside the area, but the Spaniard could only divert a pusillanimous effort wide after failing to meet the ball as emphatically as he had hoped to.
Refusing to relent in their punctilious pursuit of the opening goal, United continued to pass and probe and they fashioned their clearest sight of goal in the first half in the 21st minute. An incisive through ball by Eunan O’Kane was latched upon by Roofe, who controlled the ball with his chest before drilling a low effort marginally wide of the left-hand post.
The visitors were to rue Roofe’s dissipating of that opportunity shortly thereafter. Eight minutes later, and a hefty throw-in by Flanagan eventually fell to Lucas Akins inside the Leeds penalty area. Akins then took a masterly first touch before firing the ball across the face of goal, before Tom Naylor ghosted in at the far post to bundle home from close proximity to the discernible delight of the home supporters.
That goal appeared to enervate United, and it thus rendered them impotent for the half’s remainder. Leeds were unable to manufacture an opportunity to equalise prior to the half-time interlude and were most fortunate that Burton did not punish them after an expeditious counterattack on their part in the 44th minute. Jamie Allen alacritously raced into the United half as Albion supporters rose to their feet in eager anticipation of a second goal, but the midfielder did not deign to pass for the onrushing Lloyd Dyer - who was in a rather more propitious position than himself - and opted to chance his arm to no avail.
The Brewers would carve Leeds asunder once more shortly after the commencing of the first half. After receiving possession from Naylor inside the United penalty area, Marvin Sordell - who scored in this fixture for Albion last season - swivelled on a sixpence before curling a left-footed effort narrowly wide of Felix Wiedwald’s left-hand post.
Leeds soon took the liberty of admonishing their hosts for their profligacy in the 61st minute, after Roofe was carelessly scythed down by the pugnacious Flanagan. The consequent set-piece saw United employ a peculiar tactic; in addition to the defensive blockade established by the hosts, Leeds created two ancillary walls of their own. As Hernández strode forth to take the free kick - after the referee issued a yellow card to Albion goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, who had inexplicably pulled O’Kane shorts down - the United walls raced away from goal before the Spaniard produced a sumptuous curling effort that flew into the net and sent the travelling contingent of Leeds supporters into raptures.
And before long, the match was turned on its head in the 64th minute. Ronaldo Vieira, who had bizarrely been the subject of odium on the part of the home supporters after being disgracefully assailed by Naylor earlier in the half, regained possession from Sean Scannell in the middle of the park before playing a through ball of peerless precision into the path of Roofe; the fleet-footed attacker, in an almost facile manner, slotted the ball past the hapless Bywater and into the bottom left corner with appreciable aplomb to score his tenth goal of the season and his team’s second of the contest.
Not content with merely a slender advantage, Thomas Christiansen’s resurgent charges continued to pose to their opponents a sensible attacking threat. Three minutes after Roofe’s strike, Alioski drove a fierce effort over the crossbar from distance.
The hosts then created their first notable opening since Sordell’s effort shortly after the interval. Allen struck a venomous half-volley toward goal from outside the Leeds penalty area, but Wiedwald held his nerve to make an attentive save.
United then counterattacked a minute later through Roofe, who seized upon a through ball that Burton’s Buxton failed to intercept. However, after cutting infield with much guile, he could only send a curling effort wide.
With the match’s conclusion fast approaching and Leeds now endeavouring to protect their lead, the hosts would come excruciatingly close to scoring an equalising goal in added time. United had negotiated much of the second half soundly and sensibly, with the hosts being allowed little in the way of clear goalscoring opportunities, but Albion would create one last chance to salvage an invaluable point. A long ball into the Leeds penalty area from Bywater wreaked havoc within the the box, but the most haphazard and frenetic phase of play in the match’s entirety would ultimately see a clearance by United substitute Kalvin Phillips ricochet off Sordell’s shin before rolling wide - to the palpable relief of the visitors.
Shortly afterward came the last blast of the referee’s whistle, to corroborate a pivotal result for Leeds that sees them retain fifth position in the Championship table ahead of Saturday’s excursion to St Andrew’s to face Birmingham City - the side presently bottom of the division.
Burton Albion (5-4-1) - Bywater; Akins, Brayford, Buxton, Turner, Flanagan; Scannell (Miller 87'), Naylor, Allen, Dyer; Sordell.
Unused Substitutes: Ripley, McFadzean, Warnock, Sbarra, Palmer, Akpan.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Wiedwald; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi; O'Kane, Vieira (Phillips 77'); Cibicki (Lasogga 75'), Hernández, Alioski (Pennington 90'); Roofe.
Unused Substitutes: Lonergan, Shaughnessy, Anita, Grot.
Half-Time: Burton Albion 1-0 Leeds United - Naylor 29’
Full-Time: Burton Albion 1-2 Leeds United - Naylor 29’, Hernández 61’, Roofe 64’
Match Statistics (Burton / Leeds)
Possession: 37% / 67%
Attempts: 13 / 12
On Target: 3 / 2
Pass Success: 57% / 75%
Aerial Duels: 60% / 40%
Corners: 0 / 3
Fouls: 7 / 10
Booked: Bywater, Flanagan, Naylor (Burton), Cooper, Berardi (Leeds).
Man of the Match: Ronaldo Vieira (Leeds).
The tranquility and ample self-assurance with which the 19-year-old fulfills his midfield responsibilities belies his youth. Vieira was the fulcrum of this latest Leeds triumph, producing a superlative pass to create for Kemar Roofe the chance to score United’s second goal of the match in addition to maintaining the highest pass completion of any player on the pitch from the outset (89%). The present campaign has seen Vieira forge an efficient midfield partnership with Kalvin Phillips and the indefatigable pair have been exceedingly important figures for Leeds ever since Thomas Christiansen’s appointment as United head coach - today, Vieira made plain once more that he has a lustrous future in the game.
Venue: Pirelli Stadium (capacity of 6,912).
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).
For the third match in succession, United have claimed victory having produced an unremarkable but competent performance. Though it could be plausibly argued that Tom Naylor’s goal in the 29th minute - which was, ostensibly, offside - came against the run of play given Leeds’ hegemony of possession, United were effete in the first period and their second half display was rather more mettlesome and imperious.
Furthermore, Leeds exuded great fortitude to overturn the deficit to win the match and Ronaldo Vieira’s performance encapsulated this. He had been caught napping for Naylor's opening goal, but responded by producing a much improved second half performance and by creating Kemar Roofe’s tenth goal of the season.
Though a workmanlike victory over a team embroiled in a relegation dogfight is not typically cause for ebullience, the manner and context in which United secured a fourth successive Championship victory today will be the mother of much optimism amongst the management, players and supporters for the rest of the season. Prior to this afternoon, Leeds had not won a match after conceding the first goal; to have finally unburdened themselves of this unwelcome statistic will be most gratifying for the players and for head coach Thomas Christiansen.
Photo: Action Images
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