Leeds 2-0 Huddersfield: Ayling and Bamford strikes put hosts top
Leeds 2-0 Huddersfield: Hosts overtake West Brom to return to the top of the Championship after Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford strike in Yorkshire derby
- Leeds went top of the Championship after a derby day victory over Huddersfield
- Luke Ayling gave the hosts the lead after volleying home from inside the box
- Patrick Bamford then made sure of the points by tapping home from two yards
There can be no doubt that Leeds are a Premier League team in waiting. Top of the table, eight points clear of third and surely they won’t look back now. And it is with no disrespect to the rest of the Championship, including West Brom, who are now second, but no other side comes close.
Marcelo Bielsa’s players are fitter, more dynamic, tactically and technically intelligent and less forgiving than any other team in the second tier. There is a distinct aura about this group who not only out run but out think their opponents. Huddersfield did what they could, opting for a risky possession-based approach but it didn’t stop Leeds racking up their fifth straight victory and a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
From defence to attack, Leeds can just about profit from any position on the pitch. Whether that be full back Luke Ayling, who sent Leeds into an early lead, or Patrick Bamford, who can be frustrating to watch but who also buried Huddersfield with a poacher’s finish inside the six-yard area.
Leeds returned to the top of the Championship with a derby victory over Huddersfield
Danny Cowley would have thought his side had more of a chance after Kalvin Phillips failed to make the 18-man squad with a knee injury.
Phillips is a key component to the way Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 system functions but given the versatility of the players and Argentinian’s experience, a resolution was easily found – Ben White moved forward and Gaetano Berardi dropped into central defence. Each player is expected to fulfil a certain role at any one time and they do it with such an intensity it can leave opposition players bamboozled.
Indeed, barely any time was on the clock before a signature Bielsa move came into play. Flying winger Jack Harrison, who was Leeds’s best player here, darted forward down the left. From there he could have aimed for the six-yard box with a cross but opted to play his pass deeper knowing Ayling had sprinted into position from right back.
The ball was delivered with pinpoint accuracy and Ayling did brilliantly to meet the ball in mid-air and guide a right-footed volley over the top of Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, which struck the underside the bar on the way in. It was so devastatingly cutthroat.
Luke Ayling put the hosts ahead three minutes in after volleying home from inside the box
Patrick Bamford then provided Leeds with a cushion by tapping home from two yards
Huddersfield could easily have folded and no doubt the side who started the season after last year’s relegation may well have done. But there is more of a gritty edge to this side even if that does mean adopting a rather cynical approach from time to time as demonstrated by Richard Stearman’s foul on Bamford in the Huddersfield half, which earned him a yellow card.
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier 6.5; Ayling 7.5, Berardi 6.5, Cooper 7, Dallas 7; White 7; Klich 7 (Shackleton 82), Harrison 8 (Alioski 90+2), Costa 6.5, Hernandez 7; Bamford 7 (Roberts 77)
Substitutes not used: Caprile, Douglas, Strujik, Casey
Goals: Ayling 3, Bamford 51
Booked: Ayling, Berardi, White
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa 8
Huddersfield (4-2-3-1): Lossl 7; Simpson 6, Stearman 6, Schindler 6, Toffolo 6; Chalobah 6, O’Brien 6.5; Willock 6 (Pritchard 66, 6), Smith Rowe 6.5 (Bacuna 71, 6), Grant 6.5; Campbell 6 (Mounie 60, 6)
Substitutes not used: Coleman, Kachunga, Stankovic, King
Booked: Stearman, Willock, Schindler
Manager: Danny Cowley 6.5
Referee: Oliver Langford 6
While that displayed a robust side to Huddersfield’s style, going forward they were inventive with Smith Rowe and Grant. Trevoh Chalobah went close during one of his rare runs into the Leeds box with Illan Meslier pulling off a rather unorthodox save with his legs.
But for Huddersfield’s positive response after going behind, they didn’t inflict any obvious damage. And when you don’t make the most of inviting openings – such as Grant when he weaved into the Leeds box from a corner before going to ground – you tend to get burnt by a side that can move up the pitch with such speed.
Within 10 seconds of Grant losing the ball in the Leeds area, the hosts nearly made their lead doubly commanding.
Bamford stormed through the middle of the Huddersfield half, set Harrison free, who then switched play to the right where Helder Costa was waiting to pass in behind to Bamford but the striker couldn’t reach the ball. While it counted for nothing, it was yet another example of how quickly Leeds can turn defence into attack.
From there they enjoyed two more attacking moves before half-time. First, Ayling found Harrison with a cross which the winger fired wide before Berardi headed Harrison’s free-kick past Lossl’s left post.
Huddersfield were able to take a half-time breather but that was about it as Leeds moved onto a different level in the second half.
Trevoh Chalobah had one of the chances for the visitors on a difficult afternoon for them
Bamford got his 13th of the season when he poked in from close range after Lossl had done so well to get a hand to White’s header.
From that moment, the game was over but Leeds wanted more. The volume cranked up inside Elland Road as Harrison bent a shot towards the top right corner. Lossl had no time to move as the ball struck the crossbar and bounced away. It was now a procession and no longer a contest as Huddersfield went into damage limitation mode.
The biggest attendance of the season at Elland Road was announced as 36,514 and prompted the home supporters to sing: ‘You’ve only come to see the Leeds.’ Lucky for the Huddersfield fans, if Leeds don’t mess this up now, they won’t have to next season.
Marcelo Bielsa saw his side go above West Brom with their 22nd win of the league season
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