Javi Gracia pinpoints key ‘difference’ after kickstarting Leeds Utd reign with crucial three points to end winless run

Javi Gracia managing Leeds

Javi Gracia believed Leeds United were “solid” in their win over Southampton for his first game in charge, enabling them to halt a 10-game winless run in the Premier League.

One day after his visa was approved so he could finally commence his Leeds reign, Gracia got his tenure off to a winning start on Saturday. Junior Firpo scored the only goal of the game – which was his first ever in the Premier League – in the 77th minute to sink Southampton in a 1-0 triumph.

It was Leeds’ first league win since November 5, against Bournemouth. Since then, they struggled under Jesse Marsch and failed to turn things around while Michael Skubala took care of the first team.

Now, Gracia has immediately lifted the mood at Elland Road, seeing his side keep a clean sheet for the first time since their goalless draw with Brentford a month ago.

They also enjoyed more possession, shots and shots on target than their opponents.

Thanks to the win, Leeds have not only remained above Southampton in the table, but have also risen out of the relegation zone after Everton slipped up against Aston Villa.

Hence, Gracia has made a good first impression as Leeds pursue their target of securing Premier League safety by the end of the season. One hurdle down, 14 to go.

After the game, the Spanish tactician explained how Leeds’ solidity at the back made the difference.

Javi Gracia grateful after first Leeds win

Gracia told Sky Sports: “Very proud of the club. When I arrived, I saw everyone was involved; the owners, the directors. Everyone gave us a warm welcome, especially the supporters and players.

“After 10 games without a win, the team needed it. It is one step, but an important step.

“The difference was we were solid. We got a clean sheet and that is important. That is the way we need to grow.

“I can tell you I am proud of my players; today they did their job. We are happy with the result and attitude.”

Leeds have now picked up five wins in the Premier League this season. This was only the second – after a 3-0 triumph over Chelsea in August – in which they also kept a clean sheet.

Next up for the Whites will be an away match against Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round, before the return fixture against Chelsea in the league.

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