Patrick Bamford’s assured second-half finish coupled with Tyler Roberts’ injury-time strike gave Leeds all three points with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Southampton at St Mary’s.
England hopeful Bamford faced up to Saints keeper Alex McCarthy before placing the ball between his legs. Roberts added the gloss in second-half injury time to cap an excellent night for the Elland Road outfit.
It was maybe a bit harsh on the home side who huffed and puffed but Leeds quality in the final third told in the end.
Southampton made three changes from the side that beat Fulham at the weekend. Takumi Minamino, Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings were benched, with Nathan Tella, Theo Walcott and Moussa Djenepo given the nod.
Marcelo Bielsa also switched three as Kiko Casilla, Liam Cooper and Rodrigo replaced Illan Meslier, Pascal Struijk and Mateusz Klich.
Both sides had won their previous two games but it was the hosts who threatened first. In just the second minute, Stuart Armstrong’s excellent ball found the head of Che Adams.
The Scot’s header was goal bound but Meslier tipped it over the bar. Armstrong then tried his luck from distance a minute later but his effort sailed high and wide.
The hosts continued to boss the game, roared on by a crowd of around 8,000, and Leeds struggled to get out of their own half. And Walcott, fresh from agreeing a new two -year deal, should have scored on 20 minutes.
73' GGGGGGOOOOAAAALLLLL!!! YES PATRICK! GET IN!!! 0-1 pic.twitter.com/9FHAknMeeo
— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 18, 2021
The former Arsenal man rounded the onrushing Casilla but declined the shot from a narrow angle, preferring to cross. Cooper was on hand to clear.
The game continued to ebb and flow, with Saints enjoying the better chances. But on 24 minutes Jack Harrison and Raphinha combined well to find Stuart Dallas only for the Northern Irishman to drag his shot wide.
As the half-hour approached, Southampton felt they should have had a penalty as Harrison felled Kyle Walker-Peters. But the referee thought otherwise.
There were 10 attempts in the first 30 minutes – but only one on target. Saints had most of them and Ralph Hasenhuttl will have been hoping the misses didn’t come back to haunt his side.
As the half drew to its conclusion, the south-coast outfit were again dominant. And Tella missed two good chances in the space of 60 seconds.
Adams’ ball across the area found the midfielder, who forced an excellent save from Casilla. And from the resulting corner, Tella lifted his effort just over the bar following a mistake by the Whites keeper.
Luke Ayling was adamant Leeds should have been awarded a penalty in first-half stoppage time. He seemed to be tripped by Mohammed Salisu but referee Peter Bankes refused to play ball.
Both managers made changes at the break. Ings replaced Adams for the home side while Bielsa brought on Gaetano Berardi for Diego Llorente.
And, much like in the first period, Southampton flew out of the traps. Hasenhuttl’s men were awarded a free-kick just outside the area. It was James Ward-Prowse territory and the midfielder’s effort grazed the bar.
Bamford steals the show
Leeds response was immediate as Dallas’s volley forced a fingertip save from Alex McCarthy. And as the hour mark approached Bamford paid the price for being too honest.
The Leeds striker appeared to be clipped by McCarthy in the Saints box but stayed on his feet. Jannik Vestergaard cleared the danger but had Bamford gone down, it would surely have been a penalty.
Ings had his first sight of goal midway through the second period but put his effort into the stands.
Leeds could easily have taken the lead on 68 minutes but a double save by McCarthy foiled Ezgjan Alioski. But just five minutes later they were in front through Bamford.
Rodrigo picked out the Englishman’s run who found himself with just McCarthy to beat. The striker calmly slotted through the keeper’s legs who will feel he should have done better.
Bamford then turned provider for Raphinha but the striker was a yard offside as he buried his effort. The crowd roared Saints on towards the death but it was not enough to earn them an equaliser.
Deep in stoppage time Bamford looked for his second with a crisp shot. And Roberts was on hand to put away the rebound with a composed finish.