West Brom back into top six af­ter thrash­ing Leeds

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Jon Cul­ley at the Hawthorns

An­other Satur­day of un­pre­dictable score­lines ended with Nor­wich City top of the Cham­pi­onship af­ter Leeds, top go­ing into the week­end pro­gramme and still there af­ter Sh­effield United were held by city ri­vals Wed­nes­day on Fri­day evening, slipped to only a third de­feat of the sea­son.

Al­bion’s re­cent form had been giv­ing cause for con­cern af­ter a run of three de­feats in four matches, but sec­ond­half goals from Hal Robson-Kanu, Matt Phillips, Har­vey Barnes and sub­sti­tute Dwight Gayle re­warded a strong counter-at­tack­ing per­for­mance against a Leeds side who were guilty of mak­ing too many mis­takes.

The vic­tory lifted Dar­ren Moore’s team back into the top six.

“We needed that per­for­mance,” head coach Moore said. “And I think we got it be­cause we had a break in the pro­gramme with­out mid­week games that at last gave us time to get in some quality work in train­ing.

“We cre­ated chances in the games where we didn’t get the results – 16 against Derby, for ex­am­ple – but for what­ever rea­son, that fi­nal touch to con­vert the chances was not there.

“But the time on the train­ing pitch gave us the chance to work on the fine de­tails of all ar­eas of our play. And it was pleas­ing to see the results tonight.”

The Leeds head coach, Marcelo Bielsa, ad­mit­ted that he ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for the de­feat.

“We knew that the best as­pect of our op­po­nent is their of­fen­sive play­ers and that they wanted the space to coun­ter­at­tack,” he said. “We worked on a way to pre­vent this and stop them scor­ing, but the op­po­site hap­pened.

“In every game, play­ers make mis­takes, but the de­sign of the game is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the head coach.”

There had been plenty of en­ergy from the start from the home side.

In the open­ing min­utes Rob­sonKanu went close with a de­cent ef­fort that just cleared the bar, Tosin Adara­bioyo fired a good chance wide from a cor­ner and Jay Ro­driguez tested goal­keeper Bai­ley Peacock-Far­rell from 20 yards.

Leeds tried to con­trol the tempo and showed quality at times, but there was a hint of what was to fol­low when a mis­take by Kalvin Phillips, ca­su­ally giv­ing the ball away on the half­way line, al­most al­lowed Barnes to give Al­bion the lead.

There were chances for Pablo Her­nan­dez and Ma­teusz Klich as Leeds used the full width of the pitch to stretch the home side, but Al­bion went close again as Ro­driguez rat­tled the bar.

Moore was prob­a­bly won­der­ing when he might turn to Gayle, back on the bench af­ter miss­ing two matches through in­jury, but then, six min­utes af­ter the restart, came the break­through Al­bion prob­a­bly de­served.

Again, Leeds had them­selves to blame, leav­ing them­selves vul­ner­a­ble to the counter, which came as their ap­peals for a foul on Ke­mar Roofe were dis­missed.

As Leeds chased back, Ro­driguez drove for­wards at speed and picked out Robson-Kanu mov­ing into space on the left. The Welsh striker de­liv­ered a fine fin­ish, slid­ing the ball across Pea­cock­Far­rell and in at the far post.

Leeds now tried to test an Al­bion de­fence that had looked in­se­cure in re­cent games, but just as they pushed harder to pull level, Al­bion eased the pressure on them­selves with a sec­ond goal on 67 min­utes, mak­ing Leeds pay for an­other mis­take.

Phillips, whose phys­i­cal­ity in mid­field had been a prob­lem for the visi- tors through­out, dis­pos­sessed Klich in­side the Leeds half, drove hard to- wards goal and beat Peacock-Far­rell with a rak­ing drive from 25 yards.

There­after, Leeds pretty much fell apart, con­ced­ing again in the 82nd and 83rd min­utes as Adara­bioyo re­leased Barnes through the mid­dle to sweep home, and again as Gayle, who had re­placed Robson-Kanu for the last 10 min­utes, showed off his au­da­cious side by back-heel­ing into the net af­ter a Ro­driguez shot had been blocked.

Her­nan­dez headed a lovely goal for Leeds in stop­page time, but it counted for noth­ing, save to give the 2,500 vis­it­ing fans, who never wa­vered in their sup­port, some­thing to ap­plaud.

Col­li­sion: West Brom’s James Mor­ri­son (left) and Ke­mar Roofe chal­lenge for the ball

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