Leeds United 3-0 Southampton
Leeds United are back in the top half of the Premier League table after a convincing 3-0 win over struggling Southampton at Elland Road.
Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas, and Raphinha all scored in a sensational second-half performance by the Whites, who snapped their two-game losing skid.
As for the Saints, their steady march down the standings continues. They are now 14th after their seventh loss in eight games, with the pressure on manager Ralph Hasenhuttl growing more and more.
Highlights of the game
As speculated in the SBOTOP preview of this match, Leeds shook up their starting line-up after getting shut out by Wolves in their previous match. Marcelo Bielsa went with a 3-3-3-1 formation in a bid to jumpstart his team’s attack.
However, it was the visitors who started brighter and had two big chances on goal within the first 10 minutes despite having top scorer Danny Ings on the bench. First, Jannik Vestergaard got free for a header, but he sent it wide of Illan Meslier’s goal. Then, young Nathan Tella made a good run and forced a fine save from Meslier.
It took Leeds until the 25th minute to create their first clear chance on goal. Raphinha’s fine run set up Tyler Roberts for a shot, but the Welshman skied it well off-target. Captain Liam Cooper then came close to stabbing the ball in off a free-kick, but Saints keeper Alex McCarthy did brilliantly to tip it over the bar.
Saints thought their prayers had been answered when referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot after Diego Llorente tackled Tella. But after taking a look at the replay monitor, the referee reversed his decision.
It would be Leeds’ turn to plead for a penalty on 39 minutes after Raphinha went through on goal after a lightning-quick counterattack. But the Brazilian was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Oriol Romeu, which Marriner did not award a penalty for.
And Marriner would make one more controversial call just before half-time. Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse caught Leeds off-guard with a quickly taken a free-kick and found Che Adams, who slid the ball into the net. But Marriner decided the free-kick was taken too early and waived the goal off, to the Saints’ dismay.
Things would only go from bad to worse for Saints as they would go down just two minutes into the second half. Tyler Roberts supplied an inch-perfect through ball to Patrick Bamford, who threaded the needle himself with a pinpoint left-footed finish right into the corner.
Saints almost hit back right away through Stuart Armstrong, but Meslier did well to get down and make a save on his near post.
Leeds looked threatening with Raphinha causing so much trouble down the left wing, but Saints also had their chances as Bamford needed to clear a Vestergaard header off the line.
But Leeds finally got the second goal they were looking for on 78 minutes. Stuart Dallas, who had played so well operating in a midfield role, produced a spectacular shot with the outside of his left boot to give McCarthy no chance.
And Leeds would put Saints out of their misery on 84 minutes. Raphinha got the goal he thoroughly deserved as he blasted a free-kick right into the bottom corner.
Rodrigo may have been Leeds’ record signing, but Raphinha has been by far Leeds’ best signing this season. Not only did the Brazilian score his fifth goal of the season, but he also created four of Leeds’ 11 shots against Saints.
And with his trademark Brazilian free-kick – one of the top Premier League 2021 highlights thus far – Raphinha became the first Leeds player to score from a direct free-kick in the Premier League since Stephen McPhail in March 2004.
Patrick Bamford isn’t having such a bad season himself. The Leeds No. 9 scored his 13th goal of the season, which puts him in a four-way tie for third in the league.
Stuart Dallas also deserves plaudits for his fine performances. Despite playing a good deal of the season in defence, the 29-year-old has still scored five goals this season, which is tied for third on the team.
After climbing up to 10th in the table, Leeds now have a chance to leapfrog eight-placed Aston Villa, whom they host this weekend. Bamford had a hat-trick in a 3-0 win in their first meeting, and the Premier League 2021 betting odds could be even more in Leeds’ favour if Villa captain Jack Grealish’s injury keeps him out once again.
Meanwhile, Southampton’s quest to end their disastrous winless drought will resume when they face Everton on the 1st of March. Saints won their first meeting of the season 2-0 at home, but that was back in October.
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