It was good hearing the news about the East Stand being renamed the Jack Charlton stand this week. Big Jack played a total of 762 competitive appearances for Leeds United and were the only club he played for which was a fantastic achievement and this is a well-deserved honour in his memory. The Calls in Leeds has now got a fantastic painting of Kalvin Phillips, Lucas Radebe and Albert Johanneson on a wall which is very impressive. Sad news was hearing one of our Whitby Whites fans who had travelled home and away for 50 years had died in tragic circumstances and young Louie had lost his battle with Leukaemia. Recently when it was said that Louie didn’t have very long to live, he was Facetimed at his bedside by members of the first team. My thoughts go out to all families and friends of both fans.
Team: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Alioski, Koch, Phillips, Harrison, Bamford, Raphinha, Klich and Dallas. Subs: Costa for Harrison (limping 81), Poveda for Raphinha (84), and Rodrigo for Bamford (90). Subs not used: Casilla, Struijk, Davis and Roberts. Leeds won the game 1-0 with Raphinha scoring for Leeds (79). Attendance: Zero, behind closed doors. Referee: C. Kavanagh
As Leeds kicked off, we were straight on the attack and I thought we had won a corner in the first minute when Ayling got forward only for a goal kick to be given. There was a lively 20 minutes of football from both teams. A fantastic move from Leeds after excellent play by Raphinha saw him put a great pass across the box only for Harrison’s shot to go narrowly wide. Everton attacked and with their man bearing down on him, Cooper let the ball go and their man on the wing passed the ball across to the same player in the middle. Meslier made a fantastic save from him and again quickly got to the rebound as Ayling ensured we cleared the ball. The play was end to end but Leeds were putting some good moves together. Suddenly, it looked like the game had turned on its head as Everton scored, but their player had strayed offside before smacking a great shot into the net from the byline. I couldn’t believe VAR had to check it to be honest? That disallowed goal seemed to give Everton a bit of hope and Ayling was booked for shirt pulling before their resulting free kick went over the crossbar. Leeds were then unlucky not to score after their keeper made a fantastic save from a Raphinha header and then they kicked the ball off the line from Harrison’s shot from the rebound. Bamford won Leeds a free kick, but we didn’t see their player get booked for shirt pulling.
As Leeds continued to attack, three times Ayling passed the ball into the penalty area but Everton stood firm blocking every attempt. Meslier saved another shot from Everton and then as Leeds counterattacked, Everton were lucky not to concede a penalty for handball after Harrison’s persistence in the penalty area saw the ball hit the hand of an Everton player. Meslier was in impressive form as he pushed the ball out for a corner after another attack from Everton. Again, it looked like Everton had taken the lead, but the linesman had put his flag up for offside. There was an Everton player in front of Meslier but well offside, so it was a correct decision. Meslier continued to keep us in the game by saving another shot. The pace had been relentless in the first half and just before the break we saw Harrison’s header come back off the post with the keeper beaten and Bamford’s shot from the rebound went wide. It did look like Ayling was coming up behind him and was in a better position to score, but you must take a chance when it is there. Klich had a great shot that just passed the wrong side of the post in injury time. It had been a good first half despite not making any chances count, having played some fantastic Bielsa ball football. Just what I want to see.
The second half saw Everton have a good move but luckily Meslier put it round the post for a corner. As a Leeds move broke down with Bamford’s shot blocked, Everton raced to the other end although they looked offside but put the chance wide. Leeds continued to attack with another great move but the final shot from Klich was well over the crossbar when he should have kept it down. Another chance saw us beat the defence, but Bamford’s snapshot lifted too high and went over the top. A bad Meslier kick out from defence nearly saw us punished, but Meslier got back to keep the ball at the right side of the line despite his body going over it. Another great cross from Raphinha who had switched sides with Harrison saw no one there to put it into the net. The football was end to end and some nice play ended after Bamford’s pass to Harrison brought a save out of their keeper. A good move from Everton saw some good defending from Klich as he put a deflected shot out for a corner.
When Delph an ex-Leeds player came on for Everton, I had thought he looked familiar but couldn’t say who he was. For me it is out of sight out of mind. I was expecting a great pass from Phillips to go wide but it went forwards to Harrison and we were unlucky that the final shot didn’t come off, but it was another good move. Keep fighting Leeds a goal will come. Raphinha after some good play in the penalty area was unlucky to see his shot blocked. Bamford then put the ball into the net which was disallowed, but I thought the ball may have gone out before Alioski’s cross. Replays showed Alioski had strayed offside. Everton won another corner as they made their second sub. Meslier then made another save and had to be quick to get the rebound first. We were starting to be put under pressure as I started to feel a little anxious that we needed to change things with 14 mins left. As it was when no one was being brought on, I knew I had to trust Bielsa’s judgement. Once again that proved right with a fantastic goal from Raphinha shortly after. He received the ball just outside the penalty area and when it looked like he was going to pass the ball, he changed his mind and sent a great shot through the defenders legs and past the keeper into the net. What a fantastic goal to put Leeds into the lead on the day. We didn’t have long to see the game out now to get the three points. Harrison was seen limping down the touchline as he was replaced by Costa. Poveda was brought on for Raphinha and later with three minutes of injury time left to play, I was hopeful the result would go our way. Rodrigo was brought on for Bamford who wasn’t happy to go off with a minute or so left. Phillips was fouled which saw their player booked at the death. Costa should have scored after great work from Poveda, but he took a second touch of the ball which saw their keeper block his shot when a first time shot would have hit the back of the net.
Nevertheless, a great win and three points today as well as a fantastic team performance from Leeds United. Overall, the game itself was a good advert for football, especially for any neutrals. For me, when Raphinha’s shot hit the back of the net I was dancing around the room as well of thousands of Leeds fans around the world no doubt. The only thing missing was seeing Leeds fans behind the goal celebrating the win. Next week sees another away game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Just go out there and play football the way I want to see it and who knows what happens. The best form of defence is attack and this takes me back to the Revie days. As I’ve said before, if Bielsa can emulate Don Revie’s team then we are in for a great future. We aren’t doing a bad job so far, are we?
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