|Leeds United 2 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 2nd November 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Leeds United 2-0 Queens Park Rangers - Harrison helps Whites down Rs
Sunday, 3rd Nov 2019 09:53 by Lucas Monk
Jack Harrison produced a most stellar performance and registered a goal and an assist to propel Leeds United to an important victory over Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon…
On a day of dour and dreary weather and grey skies, Harrison sparkled, brilliance effulgent and beaconing from his every move, and created the opening goal for Tyler Roberts, whose laser-guided shot from outside the box found the net six minutes before half-time and represented his first goal in more than a year.
Harrison then took it upon himself to make certain of his side’s success with 82 minutes on the clock, and he planted a cool finish into the bottom corner to hand Leeds their fourth home victory of the campaign.
With his team in need of a victory to keep touch with the chasing pack at the top of the division, Marcelo Bielsa opted for the 3-3-3-1 formation that was so beloved of him during his time with Marseille. Its efficacy was clear for all to see, as Leeds passed and probed and tackled and tormented their beleaguered, bedraggled opponents from the capital.
Indeed, United did their level best to make to the match a start of real effervescence and elan and, in spite of a steady stream of fouls that threatened to fetter their flair, they created two good chances in the opening 10 minutes.
First, Mateusz Klich impetuously lashed the ball over the crossbar following Luke Ayling’s finding him free inside the box with a cross of peerless accuracy,
Then, Stuart Dallas elicited a smart save from QPR goalkeeper Liam Kelly, who dived to his right to parry the Northern Irishman’s curling effort.
The home crowd was expectant, and its reiteration of its great expectations had some sort of rising intonation to it, in line with the metronomic effect of Leeds’ failure to convert their chances.
The tired jeers and exasperated sighs were their loudest on 26 minutes when the out of sorts Patrick Bamford burst onto Klich’s splitting through ball and drew the goalkeeper before trying to take the ball around him and losing possession to a well-timed and crucial last-minute intervention from Lee Wallace, who was making his first appearance for the Hoops.
Leeds frittered away another fine opportunity eight minutes thereafter. Harrison sent a low cross screaming across the box, but Bamford failed to make a tangible connection. Had he done, he would have brought to an end a painful goal drought which seems to have sapped him of all confidence.
But United would take the lead five minutes later. Harrison found Roberts, who displayed panache and precision and slammed toward goal a shot that seared across the wet grass and into the net. The slender lead Leeds took into the interval as a result was no less than the vigour and vivacity of their play deserved.
The second half continued in much the same vein. With a great pass, Ayling released Roberts on the right and he fired the ball across the face of goal for Bamford, who again failed to make contact.
The chances continued to fall the way of the Whites. On 61 minutes, Kalvin Phillips picked out a lofted pass par excellence. Roberts did the hard part and brought the ball under his control inside the box, but he snatched at his shot and sent the ball looping over the bar.
Leeds then had the ball in the net and thought they had doubled their lead. Bamford did connect with a cross this time, heading in Roberts’ ball from the right channel, but he saw his goal chalked off for an offside on his part, which on reflection looked somewhat dubious.
QPR then had their first, and last, clear opportunity of the match. Substitute Marc Pugh smuggled the ball to Todd Kane, who sent a splendiferous delivery into the box. Jordan Hugill nodded a feeble effort wide, and so embarassing was the miss that he feigned injury afterwards to try and gloss over it.
As it was, Hugill’s miss alone was far from being at the heart of Rangers’ downfall. Despite Leeds gleefully snaffling up their lapses in possession time and time again, the visitors continued with a preposterous tactic of playing out from the back, which they did whilst wearing the sort of countenance one would expect to see on a person with a gun to their head. It was more slipshod play at the back allowed the hosts to put the game beyond doubt.
Harrison played a slick one-two with Klich before racing into the box. Pugh slid in to try and avert the danger, but, in doing so, he put the ball on a plate for the Leeds winger, who slotted home from mere yards out to add a little gloss to a dominant performance.
Roberts came close to his second and United’s third shortly before the final whistle after receiving possession from substitute Leif Davis, but Kelly did well to parry his low shot and spare his side further anguish.
This was a showing of consummate professionalism from Leeds, who dominated the match from beginning to end and whose performance perhaps merited a greater margin of victory. Jack Harrison appears to be improving with each passing game and is in frightfully fructuous form having provided four assists in his last five matches. He also took his goal well, as did Tyler Roberts. His effulgent expression told the whole story. He made his return to the starting lineup a remarkable one not only by virtue of his goal but the general sharpness and acuity of his play, and netted his first goal for over a year. A mention must also go to the United defence and Kalvin Phillips. They limited QPR to one decent chance owing to strong performances from Liam Cooper and Ben White. Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas supported the midfield well whilst Phillips dictated the play, stroking the ball from side to side with such confidence and nonchalance and brilliance as to appear a top-flight player.
The hope now is that Leeds, who face Blackburn at Elland Road next Saturday, can string together a series of victories and pull clear at the top. This win is encouraging, but Patrick Bamford’s goal drought goes on, and United may feel acutely the loss of Eddie Nketiah to injury for four weeks, as they will the absence of Kiko Casilla, who faces a ban on grounds of racially abusing Charlton’s Jonathan Leko. How Bielsa and co. deal with these challenges remains to be seen.
Leeds United (3-3-3-1): Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper; Dallas, Phillips, Klich; Harrison (Davis 84’), Roberts, Costa (Hernandez 77’); Bamford.
Unused subs: Meslier, Bogusz, Berardi, Clarke, Gotts.
Queens Park Rangers (5-3-2): Kelly; Rangel, Hall, Leistner (Kane 54’), Wallace, Manning; Chair (Pugh 63’), Ball, Eze; Hugill, Wells (Mlakar 72’).
Unused subs: Lumley, Amos, Scowen, Samuel.
Match Statistics (Leeds / QPR):
Possession: 49% / 51%
Shots: 18 / 6
On target: 6 / 1
Corners: 6 / 2
Fouls: 18 / 20
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.
Booked: Klich (Leeds). Rangel, Wallace, Ball, Hugill (QPR).
Man of the match: Jack Harrison (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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