Match Report: Leeds United 3-2 Millwall - Whites show wonderful spirit to tame Lions
Sunday, 31st Mar 2019 13:57 by @LucasMonk99
Pablo Hernandez struck a double to help Leeds United return to the Championship’s top two with a thrilling defeat of Millwall at Elland Road.
Hernandez scored a late winner - his twelfth goal of the season - to help Leeds to a momentous victory.
The Lions had twice led through a Ben Thompson’s early header and Ben Marshall’s penalty netting the goals, but Hernandez’s brace, along with a Luke Ayling header, ultimately ensured that Patrick Bamford’s spurning of a first-half spot-kick did not prove calamitous.
The three points have catapulted Marcelo Bielsa’s side back into the automatic promotion places following Sheffield United’s 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Bristol City courtesy of an Andi Weimann hat-trick.
Elland Road was an effervescent blend of excitement and expectation, but a hush fell over it as Leeds went behind early on.
Thompson headed in Mahlon Romeo’s delivery from the right on 10 minutes, and it was the travelling Millwall supporters who were on their feet in celebration.
But the home crowd were again in lively spirits when their side won a penalty. Jed Wallace bundled over Ezgjan Alioski inside the box, and referee Darren Bond had no choice but to award the spot-kick. A wave of anticipation flowed through the crowd, but Bamford could only find the gloves of former Leeds ‘keeper David Martin, who parried his shot away to the chagrin of more than 30,000 spectators.
United were unperturbed, and continued to plug away, passing and probing and searching for an equaliser. Martin had to be alert to deny Jack Harrison inside the penalty area following a splitting pass from Hernandez.
Their persistence paid off, and they were soon level in the 34th minute, when Hernandez sumptuously guided Ayling’s pull-back into the bottom corner and beyond Martin’s reach.
That goal in theory should have given Leeds a platform to build on for the second period, but they instead found themselves behind just 10 minutes after the restart when Millwall converted a penalty of their own. Marshall sent Peacock-Farrell the wrong way after Liam Cooper felled him in the box.
United head coach Bielsa responded in the 67 minute and made a substitution that radically altered the complexion of the game. Jack Clarke replaced Pontus Jansson and took up position on the right wing. Kalvin Phillips dropped back into central defence and Mateusz Klich to defensive midfield. Hernandez, most crucially of all, moved into a central midfield berth.
The change soon paid dividends. After some great industry from Harrison to keep the ball in play, substitute Barry Douglas dug out a cross, and Ayling powered a header into the net to draw Leeds level in the 73rd minute. The game was only going to go one way.
United ramped up the pressure. Martin nearly threw the ball into his net from Adam Forshaw’s strike from distance. It was a sign of things to come.
Just minutes thereafter, Leeds took the lead for the first time. Wave after wave of attacks had broken Millwall. Tyler Roberts got to the byline and cut the ball back. Hernandez slid in to fire it home. Elland Road erupted into exultation, acclaimed its hero, and its winning team.
This was a momentous victory for United, and one they thoroughly deserved despite them not being at their best. They created multifarious chances, certainly far more than Millwall did, and they showed fantastic spirit to win the game having trailed twice. Their next game is against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s next Saturday. With the Blues on a barren run and having to contend with numerous off-field difficulties, Leeds will fancy their chances of worsting former manager Garry Monk and taking another huge step toward promotion.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Peacock-Farrell; Ayling, Jansson (Clarke 67’), Cooper, Alioski (Douglas 46’); Phillips; Hernandez, Roberts, Klich (Forshaw 75’), Harrison; Bamford.
Unused Subs: Miazek, Berardi, Shackleton, Dallas.
Millwall (4-4-1-1): Martin; Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, Meredith (O’Brien 84’); Wallace, Tunnicliffe (Morison 86’), Leonard, Marshall; Thompson (Elliott 87’); Gregory.
Unused Subs: Archer, Williams, Hutchinson, McLaughlin.
Referee: Darren Bond.
Booked: Jansson, Cooper (Leeds). Martin, Jake Cooper, Meredith, Marshall (Millwall).
Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez.
Photo: Action Images
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