Leeds snap out of their winter blues in stunning fashion with win over Newcastle

Marcelo Bielsa’s side find their goal touch in dominant performance at Elland Road

Leeds 5 Newcastle 2

On the eve of kick-off Marcelo Bielsa conceded that Leeds were trapped in a negative cycle, but his players devised the most compelling of exit strategies. With Patrick Bamford’s movement ultimately unhinging Newcastle, it facilitated a stylish escape from Bielsa’s winter blues, ending a run of four points from six games while offering Steve Bruce another reminder of his own team’s limitations.

At times the home side monopolised almost 75 per cent of possession, but this exit strategy took time to implement as they initially struggled to translate such dominance into goals. As Bruce is fond of pointing out, teams do not necessarily have to see too much of the ball to be effective and, by way of proving his point, Newcastle were ahead in the 26th minute thanks to Jeff Hendrick’s first-time volley.

In many ways, Newcastle are a classic counterattacking outfit and despite their alarming penchant for cheap concession of possessions, an experienced defence – led here by the underrated Federico Fernández, recovered from coronavirus – soaked up some intense Leeds pressure before breaking fast.


The left back, Jamal Lewis, played in Ryan Fraser whose whipped-in cross was flicked on by Callum Wilson, leaving Hendrick to apply the accomplished final touch. Bruce has rightly been praised for his summer signings and here all four combined to create what would prove a fragile lead.

If Newcastle can be effective they also remain flawed and no one was entirely surprised when Bamford equalised on the rebound from close range after Rodrigo’s header had rebounded off the bar.

It was Bamford’s ninth goal in 13 games this season; not bad for a player widely predicted to struggle at this level. By half-time Leeds had peppered Ken Darlow’s goal with 15 shots – the most by any Premier League side in an opening 45 minutes this season – and ultimately too many for Fernandez and friends to withstand.

Darlow was once coveted by Bielsa and the visiting goalkeeper certainly had an opportunity to jog the Leeds manager’s memory as he ran through a repertoire of saves, the most eye-catching to repel Raphinha’s half-volley and keep out Liam Cooper’s header following a corner.

Fernández made a vital block to deny Rodrigo and even though Newcastle thought they might have had a penalty when Cooper clattered Wilson, Leeds were gaining in strength.

They were in front when Rodrigo and Jack Harrison combined in a lovely move featuring the latter’s cross and an initial pass and scoring header from the latter.

Not for nothing though does Bruce praise Newcastle’s resilience and back they came. Shortly after Ilan Meslier had saved superbly from Wilson, Ciaran Clark met Fraser’s cross and headed beyond the young French goalkeeper.

Bamford’s movement continued to stretch Bruce’s backline; one clever back heel in particular might have prefaced a goal before he got himself involved in the preamble to a third home goal headed past Darlow by the unmarked Stuart Dallas following Mateusz Klich’s cross.

Ezgjan Alioskli struck from just inside the area after being superbly set up by substitute Pablo Hernández at the end of a clever counterattacking move before Harrison concluded the scoring with a fabulous 20-yard shot into the top-left corner with Hernández once again the provider.

It was hard to believe Leeds had failed to win their previous five games here. – Guardian