Leeds United 2-0 Hull City - Alioski scores again as Whites tame Tigers
Wednesday, 11th Dec 2019 06:12 by Lucas Monk
Ezgjan Alioski scored for the second match running as Leeds United claimed a seventh successive victory with a 2-0 defeat over mid-table Hull City at Elland Road.
Fresh from netting a goal in the recent worsting of Huddersfield Town, Alioski struck eight minutes from time, at the end of a rathe and rapid counter-attack, to ensure Leeds returned to the top of the table in spite of their performance in this match being one of their more prosaic offerings since Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival in West Yorkshire.
That said, United’s performance was notable for its efficiency. It fell short of illuminating the black and gelid night like some sort of effulgent, crackling star, but it got the job done, and there is a great deal one can say for that. Bielsa’s charges were at pains to exploit the flanks, and again and again Helder Costa and Jack Harrison charged up the left and the right and tried to find a telling cross. The pertinacity paid dividends; it was a delivery of Costa’s that Hull’s Jordy de Wijs inadvertently put past his own goalkeeper and gave an increasingly exasperated Leeds the lead just nine minutes before Alioski, having replaced Harrison, made the points safe.
The game suffered from an insipid, slovenly start, and one can sense early on that it would be far from a compelling spectacle. It was not until the 20th minute that either side made a meaningful foray forward and the game burst into any sort of life. Patrick Bamford outmuscled Reece Burke, won possession and burst forward with Mateusz Klich supporting him. A two-on-one situation presented itself, but Bamford ignored Klich and spurned the opportunity with a nonsensical backheel. From the fantastic to the farcical, Twain to Fitzgerald, J2O to Capri Sun, in a heartbeat.
More farce followed four minutes later. Tom Eaves, City’s rangy, tousle-haired target man, headed Kamil Grosicki’s corner into the side netting. Up went the Hull fans in jubilant muddles, and a few seconds thereafter up went the mirthful jeers as they resumed their seats with rueful scowls.
Two more minutes passed, but the farce refused to disappear. Gaetano Berardi battered the ball into Hull’s side netting. The home crowd cheered it sardonically whilst pointing and laughing at their counterparts from East Yorkshire.
There was an ephemeral calm thereafter, until Bamford met a Costa cross and headed it wide before Pablo Hernandez sent a swerving shot high and wide of the goal. Half-time came, with Leeds lamenting their lack of incisiveness in the final third.
Hull had scarcely been in the match, and set about changing this in the second half. They soon fashioned one of the better openings of the game, in the 57th minute. Kiko Casilla had to be alert to keep out a deflected shot from Eaves after a swift break from the visitors.
The Tigers then made strenuous claims for a penalty when Leonardo Da Silva Lopes went down in the penalty area under a slight nudge.
Ultimately, it was Hull’s coming into the match that did for them. Leeds took the lead in the 73rd minute with an alacritous counter of their own. With a slick pass, Hernandez released Costa who surged up the right and delivered a low cross that De Wijs diverted past the despairing dive of George Long.
The goal did little to dampen Hull’s attacking intent, but United soon dealt them another sucker-punch to make certain of their victory. Eaves powered a header toward goal from a corner, and a combination of Casilla and Bamford scrambled the ball clear. Mateusz Klich seized upon it, darted up the right, as Costa had done for the first goal, and crossed for Bamford, who owing to a Herculean effort had run the length of the field and gotten himself into the box. The striker hit the post, and then collided with Long, before Alioski stuck the rebound into an empty net. This was a goal both fantastic and farcical.
The final result was perhaps a tad harsh on Hull, but their eagerness to attack Leeds in the second half left them vulnerable to counter-attacks, and Bielsa’s side have repeatedly proven their ruthlessness in that area. That said, Leeds will likely have to produce a better performance to claim an eighth win in succession when Cardiff come to Elland Road on Saturday. The Bluebirds are a stronger opponent, and have chanced upon a happy run since the appointment of Neil Harris in the place of erstwhile United manager Neil Warnock. No one will understand this better than Bielsa himself.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling, White, Berardi, Dallas; Phillips; Costa (Struijk 91’), Hernandez, Klich (Douglas 90+5’), Harrison (Alioski 69’); Bamford.
Unused subs: Miazek, Gotts, Clarke, Nketiah.
Hull City (4-4-1-1): Long; Lichaj, Burke, Wijs, Elder (Lewis-Potter 85’); Bowen, Batty (Bowler 74’), Lopes, Grosicki (Honeyman 90+1’); Irvine; Eaves.
Unused subs: Ingram, Tafazolli, Pennington, Kinglsey.
Match Statistics (Leeds / Hull):
Possession: 63% / 37%
Shots: 12 / 11
On target: 2 / 2
Corners: 5 / 5
Fouls: 8 / 11
Referee: David Webb.
Booked: White, Phillips (Leeds). Honeyman (Hull).
Man of the match: Ezgjan Alioski (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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