Hernán­dez ac­cepts derby gift from Blades

The Observer - Sport - - Football Sky Bet Championship -

Pablo Hernán­dez snatched vic­tory to earn Leeds a third straight league win and breach fortress Bra­mall Lane, halt­ing Sh­effield United’s eight- match un­beaten home run.

Hernán­dez will not score an eas­ier goal this sea­son, sweep­ing home af­ter a grave er­ror by Dean Hen­der­son. John Egan’s over­hit back­pass had Hen­der­son backpedalling and the goal­keeper, on loan from Manch­ester United, failed to fi nd safety in Jack O’Con­nell, sell­ing his de­fender painfully short, and in­stead al­lowed Jack Clarke to cross into the un­guarded goal­mouth.

That mis­take eight min­utes from time proved de­ci­sive, though the sub­sti­tute Conor Wash­ing­ton al­most res­cued the un­re­lent­ing hosts in stop­page time, but his ac­ro­batic ef­fort can­noned back off the wood­work.

Marcelo Bielsa and Chris Wilder have taken dif­fer­ent routes to the Cham­pi­onship – the for­mer via Ar­gentina and Chile, the lat­ter via Al­fre­ton and Hal­i­fax – but both have grand plans to ar­rive at the same desti­na­tion in May.

Be­fore a ball was kicked, Bielsa ref­er­enced Wilder’s phi­los­o­phy and, af­ter this su­per­charged match be­tween two pro­mo­tion hope­fuls, he ad­mit­ted the hosts caused prob­lems, namely the un­der­lap­ping cen­tre- back Chris Basham.

On the back foot and strug­gling to live with Wilder’s side, Bielsa had an­other headache when his cap­tain, Liam Cooper, hob­bled off with a menis­cus in­jury.

Wilder’s side seized the ini­tia­tive from the start and should have taken the lead through Billy Sharp and David Mc­Goldrick, but Bai­ley Pea­cock- Far­rell, the Leeds goal­keeper, stood fi rm.

This was not the bed­lam many had hoped would en­sue be­tween the York­shire neigh­bours but it was an­other great ad­vert for the di­vi­sion, though the hosts felt hard done by. “I thought we played ex­tremely well, dom­i­nated an ex­cel­lent side,” Wilder said. “We missed a cou­ple of big chances and the game was de­cided in an in­di­vid­ual er­ror. I think it would be harsh to say we were on the back foot in that game. I thought we did re­mark­ably well and we are do­ing re­mark­ably as staff in terms of what we are get­ting out of the play­ers. I said at half- time it could have been de­cided by a bit of magic, tak­ing a chance or a mis­take and un­for­tu­nately for us it’s the fi nal one.”

Aapo Halme, the 20- year- old de­fender who re­placed Cooper for only his sec­ond ap­pear­ance in a Leeds shirt, had the visi­tors’ best chance of the fi rst half but Hen­der­son re­pelled

 Pablo Hernán­dez runs away in de­light af­ter Dean Hen­der­son’s late blun­der gave Leeds the de­ci­sive goal

his low ef­fort af­ter the ball dropped kindly in the box.

Leeds were caged for large spells and Wilder’s side con­tin­ued to pour for­ward . Un­sur­pris­ingly a golden chance fell to Sharp but he could not con­vert from point- blank range. When Mc­Goldrick sold Phillips a treat to turn his man on the edge of the area, he teed up Sharp to nod his header across goal but the striker was guilty of opt­ing for power over place­ment.

Leeds, who in­tro­duced the lively 18- year- old Clarke at the in­ter­val, ap­peared naive on oc­ca­sions, with Halme al­most pun­ished for a costly lapse, when his failed clear­ance in­vited Mc­Goldrick to stride into the box be­fore tak­ing aim. Pon­tus Jans­son hurled him­self at the striker’s fi rst ef­fort be­fore Pea­cock- Far­rell quickly repo­si­tioned him­self and sprawled to keep out Mc­Goldrick’s sec­ond at­tempt with his legs.

The busy Ma­teusz Klich in­sti­gated panic in the Blades box, forc­ing Hen­der­son into a rou­tine stop, but Ke­mar Roofe al­most went one bet­ter, glanc­ing wide from Dal­las’s cross. Leeds grew stronger and, when Hen­der­son, pre­vent­ing a cor­ner, un­der­cooked his pass for O’Con­nell, Clarke calmly slid in Hernán­dez .

“There was a mo­ment which was very im­por­tant for me. My as­sis­tant Pablo Quiroga told me to change the po­si­tions of Roofe and Hernán­dez. From that mo­ment we im­proved. We are not sure the top six to­day will be the top six at the end of the sea­son but what I can say is we played a se­ri­ous op­po­nent; it was hard for us to fi nd a so­lu­tion. It’s al­ways beau­ti­ful to win. If the re­sult of the win is to be top, even bet­ter.” It was – but only for a few hours and Nor­wich’s vic­tory.

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