Match Report: Bristol City 1-3 Leeds United - Wonderful Whites leave rueful Robins in their wake
Sunday, 4th Aug 2019 20:30 by @LucasMonk99
Leeds United laid down a marker for the season ahead at with a comfortable victory at Ashton Gate over play-off aspirants Bristol City.
United began the season in superlative style, enjoying a hegemony of possession and displaying a ruthless incision in the attacking third whilst maintaining solidity in defence.
They also conferred debuts on Ben White and Helder Costa - the former proving to be one of their most eminent performers on the day - but the irrepressible Pablo Hernandez turned in a prodigious performance, of panache, of skill, of flair, and made a telling contribution.
The Spaniard opened the scoring midway through the first period before Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison added to the lead in the second.
Andreas Weimman snuck in a low effort at the near post on 79 minutes to reduce the arrears for the hosts, but Marcelo Bielsa’s team nonetheless claimed a thoroughly deserved three points.
The match got off to a tepid start. Leeds approached the game in a patient manner, retaining the ball well and seeking to finesse for themselves a chance of a goal.
It was not until the 15th minute that either side mustered a decent effort to break the deadlock. Bamford fired a volley just wide after dexterous play from Adam Forshaw.
United would face a scare a few minutes thereafter when Kiko Casilla flew off his line to hook a through ball clear with a Bristol forward lurking - but they would soon take the lead with 25 minutes elapsed.
Brighton and Hove Albion loanee White began the move and sprayed a splitting diagonal ball to the left wing.
And Hernandez received possession in a central position before turning and thumping a masterly effort into the top left corner to send the travelling supporters into raptures.
Leeds refused to relent. Kalvin Phillips played a sumptuous pass down the right, and Hernandez surged toward goal before drawing a save from Daniel Bentley in the City goal.
Lee Johnson’s team would pose a brief threat with half-time fast approaching, with Casilla missing a cross before palming Josh Brownhill’s strike wide, but United were conspicuously comfortable with a one-nil advantage to boot. Forshaw came close to doubling that lead in the last notable act of the half, but dragged his effort wide. The midfielder is still yet to score for the club after his arrival from Middlesbrough in January 2018.
United made a sprightly start to the second half, and were rewarded for their diligence and their enterprise with a second goal on 57 minutes.
Hernandez produced a splendiferous splash of skill to escape the attentions of his marker before delivering a laser-guided cross to the near post, and Bamford made no mistake, planting his header firmly into the net to consolidate his team’s control of the match.
Leeds were causing their opponents no end of trouble with their ceaseless pressing and breathless play with the ball. Forshaw chanced his arm again on the hour, and again fired narrowly wide of the mark.
Bristol responded nine minutes later. Brownhill struck a curling free kick toward goal that flashed just wide of Casilla’s right-hand post and rippled the side netting. A smattering of the home supporters thought momentarily that their team had halved the deficit.
Instead, a rampant United broke forward with a devastating, expeditious counter and scored their third goal of the match. Stuart Dallas surged along the right and passed the ball inside for Mateusz Klich, who saw his shot blocked before Harrison gleefully tapped in the rebound.
This prompted City boss Johnson to make a change of formation, switching to a 4-4-2. It proved fructuous, as his team exerted perhaps the greatest amount of attacking pressure upon Leeds that they did for the entire match, and conjured a goal to show for their efforts. They capitalised upon a lapse in concentration with Weimann sneaking in a low effort that Casilla could well have kept out.
This ignited a faint ember of hope amongst the home fans, but United extinguished it with a cold and calculated negotiation of the game’s latter stages, holding on for a magnificent victory and three precious points. It was no less than Marcelo Bielsa’s team deserved for a performance that was meritorious in multifarious ways.
White played so equanimously as to belie his tender age, picking out a series of delectable long range passes and working well in tandem with Liam Cooper to negate the physical threat of Famara Diedhiou. Phillips patrolled the midfield with his customary composure and class, providing a platform for the resplendent Hernandez to torment the beleaguered Bristol City defence. Bamford spearheaded the attack with great efficacy, producing a Herculean effort in holding up the play and chasing down lost causes. Even Casilla, so often nauseously vagarious, performed well, his feeble conceding of Weimann’s goal aside. Other than the disappointing, error-strewn display of Barry Douglas, this must be considered a complete performance, oozing with quality all over the pitch.
This performance and result will be a great boon to Leeds ahead of a potentially difficult first home match of the season against Nottingham Forest next Saturday. Until then, their focus will turn to the transfer market as they bid to add a few further signings to aid their assault on the division’s uppermost reaches, which, on this showing, may well be a successful one.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Dallas, White, Cooper, Douglas; Phillips; Hernandez, Forshaw, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
Unused subs: Miazek, Bogusz, Clarke, Gotts.
Bristol City (4-2-3-1): Bentley; Hunt, Kalas, Moore, Dasilva; Pack, Brownhill; Weimann, Palmer, O’Dowda; Diedhiou.
Unused subs: Wollacott, Rowe, Szmodics, Baker.
Match Facts (Bristol C / Leeds)
Shots: 13 / 18
On target: 3 / 4
Corners: 4 / 6
Fouls: 8 / 12
Possession: 41% / 59%
Referee: Tim Robinson.
Booked: Forshaw, Hernandez (Leeds). Palmer, Pack, Taylor (Bristol C).
Man of the match: Pablo Hernandez (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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