Leeds United emerged victorious in Cardiff yesterday courtesy of a 2-0 victory over the lowly Bluebirds, who languish in 23rd place in the Sky Bet Championship table.
Goals from Chris Wood (62′ pen) and Pablo Hernandez (82′) are the headline figures in a game that saw Leeds United win back-to-back games for the first time this season and gain their second away victory of the season after the 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
But the starkness of the 2-0 scoreline is merely a veneer to how it was achieved, beneath it lies a plethora of variables that helped to build the victory.
At the Back – Basis for Victory
Leeds’ performance was one built from the bottom up, the defence giving the whole side that solid base from which to build. Leeds kept a rare clean sheet and, barring a couple of Cardiff chances that scuffed the paintwork at the Cardiff City Stadium, looked good in doing so.
The back four were instrumental in yesterday’s victory, soaking up the pressure that Cardiff threw their way and allowing things to build. None were more impressive than Swede Pontus Jansson who single-handedly seemed to rise like Hercules and bet away the Bluebirds’ attacking efforts – the loanee from Torino having 25 of the 55 defensive actions.
Here’s what the back line contributed against Cardiff.
- Tackles: 12 (100% success: Ayling 4/4, Jansson 3/3, Bartley 2/2, Taylor 3/3)
- Interceptions: 3 (Jansson 2, Bartley 1)
- Clearances: 28 (Ayling 4, Jansson 17, Bartley 7)
- Blocks: 5 (Jansson 1, Taylor 4)
- Headed Duels: 7 (Ayling 1, Jansson 2, Bartley 2, Taylor 2)
- Total Defensive Actions: 55
Middle of the Park – Pushing Onwards
Leeds United have often been over-guilty of relying on full-backs to provide the drive to the front lines, the supply of balls to the strikeforce. In today’s game there was a slight shift in this ethos with neither Luke Ayling nor Charlie Tayloe topping the passing for the day. That honour went to recent signing Eunan O’Kane, who had 54 passing attempts during the game – a figure around 15.3% of Leeds’ total of 354 passes.
He wasn’t alone though, with the other players in the centre of the park playing their parts – Ronaldo Vieira and Pablo Hernandez having 35 and 36 pass attempts respectively.
Here’s what the midfield three produced against Cardiff.
- Pass Attempts: 125 – 36.7% of team total passes (O’Kane 54, Hernandez 36, Vieira 35)
- Completed Passes: 104 – 83.2% accuracy (O’Kane 43 – 79.6% accuracy, Hernandez 29 – 80.6% accuracy, Vieira 32 91.45 accuracy)
- Possession: 16.2% (O’Kane 6.8%, Hernandez 5%, Vieira 4.4%)
At the Top of the Park – Glory Boys
One thing that Leeds United have suffered from most is a lack of action in front of goal – the Whites being shot-shy to the point of producing very little of worth. Leeds are routinely outshot by opponents and very rarely threaten the opposition goal. Yesterday that changed.
Against Cardiff, Leeds had 51.2% of the shots with 13 attempts compared to 11 from the Welsh side. More impressive was the fact the Whites had 7, yes 7, shots on target – a season high number.
Here’s who was a part of the Leeds United Turkey Shoot.
- Chris Wood: 5 shots, 2 on target (40% shooting accuracy), 1 goal (50% conversion from on target shots)
- Pablo Hernandez: 3 shots, 3 on target (100% shooting accuracy), 1 goal (33% conversion from on target shots)
- Hadi Sacko: 2 shots, 1 on target (50% shooting accuracy)
- Stuart Dallas: 1 shots, 1 on target (100% shooting accuracy)
- Kyle Bartley: 1 shot, 0 on target
- Kemar Roofe: 1 shot, 0 on target