Leeds strengthen Championship promotion charge with win at Blackburn

Date published: Saturday 4th July 2020 4:56 - Samuel Bannister

Leeds United extended their lead at the top of the Championship to four points thanks to a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side travelled to Ewood Park knowing they could open up a gap at the top, with West Brom not playing until Sunday.

And Leeds set themselves on the right course when Patrick Bamford gave them the opener just seven minutes in.

Kalvin Phillips doubled the advantage with a stunning free kick five minutes before half-time.

Blackburn pulled one back through Adam Armstrong just after the re-start with a free kick of his own, but Mateusz Klich restored Leeds’ two-goal cushion moments later.

The Whites held onto that lead to ensure they moved onto 78 points – four clear of West Brom in second and six ahead of Brentford in third.

 

West Brom can cut the gap at the top when they host Hull on Sunday, but with Leeds six points clear of third-placed Brentford with five games left to play, they are on course to make it back to the top flight for the first time since 2004.

But it was a third defeat in a row for Blackburn, whose play-off hopes are fading rapidly as they sit six points off sixth place.

Marcelo Bielsa came out of a midweek draw with Luton ruing Leeds’ wastefulness in front of goal, but Bamford made no mistake with the first opening here.

Blackburn were complaining about the way Klich dispossessed Lewis Travis, but as the Pole rolled the ball through Bamford fired it beyond the reach of Christian Walton just seven minutes in.

Rovers responded well and should have levelled within minutes. Armstrong’s pass put Sam Gallagher clean through on goal, but he rolled a shot the wrong side of the post with Illan Meslier beaten.

Moments later Gallagher teed up Lewis Holtby but his close-range shot rattled the right-hand post.

Blackburn lost Elliott Bennett to an injury 20 minutes in, with the experienced Stewart Downing sent on to fill the troublesome left-back spot.

But Leeds were reasserting some control and hit the post themselves in the 27th minute when Bamford shrugged off his man but saw his shot bounce back off the left-hand upright.

Luke Ayling met Barry Douglas’ 37th minute corner at the near post to test the reactions of Walton, who got down well to block.

But the goalkeeper could do nothing three minutes later as Phillips found the top left-hand corner with a fine free-kick, his first goal since October doubling Leeds’ lead.

Phillips was then guilty of conceding a needless free-kick less than two minutes into the second half and it proved costly as Armstrong curled the ball beyond the reach of Meslier.

But Leeds needed only five minutes to restore their two-goal advantage. Jack Harrison saw his shot blocked as he cut in from the right, but the ball fell for Klich and his effort found a way through the crowded area.

This time there would be no route back into the game for Blackburn as Leeds kept the pressure on.

It could and probably should have got worse with 15 minutes to go, when Walton was lucky to avoid red after coming out of his area to foul Bamford, but the Rovers keeper was booked, staying on to make a smart save from Douglas’ free-kick.

You can see how all the action unfolded via our Live Centre here.

 

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