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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Groupama Stadium, Lyon

Five things we learned about Leeds United in 3-2 win as Watford edge closer to the Championship



Leeds scored three second-half goals to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 and move seven points clear of Watford and one behind Brentford, with the Bees looking over their shoulder.

After a first 45 minutes to forget due to a combination of lacking end product and diabolical defending that saw the West Yorkshire outfit ship twice without response, they produced a spirited second-half display to take a giant step towards safety in a hammer blow to Watford. The win against Norwich wasn't just a flash in the pan and Leeds have now secured back-to-back wins For the first time this season.

No one saw tonight's result coming. But despite winning in such dramatic fashion it wasn't all roses for Leeds United, who lost four players to injury during the game.

Capital Football has analysed the game for you.


Here are FIVE things we learned about Watford and Brentford's relegation rivals who are being carved in the image of their new manager.


Dysfunctional defence


The Leeds defence conceded at the first time of asking, and Wolves didn’t even have to go through the gears for that to happen. With the scores level, Jesse Marsch’s players looked compact and well-orgnaised. But the West Yorkshire outfit suffered two setbacks in quick succession and psychologically never recovered after losing Patrick Bamford to injury.

And from the moment Francisco Trincao replaced the injured Ruben Neves on 25 minutes, they were repeatedly cut open and stretched. The Leeds backline struggled to deal with Trincao’s unpredictability, pace and penetration. One minute later, Trincao fed Jonny with an immaculate cutback in the box and the Spaniard found the far corner with an exquisite finish. Tight at the back up until that point, no Leeds player picked Jonny up on that critical occasion, which was testament to their dysfunctional, static and leaky defence which has been a problem throughout the season as their goal difference of minus 33 reflects. Leeds were lucky not to concede when the unplayable Trincao struck the post from distance before Meslier tipped Jonny’s thumping effort over the crossbar.

But Arsenal and West Ham’s Champions League rivals from the West Midlands doubled their lead when Trincao stroked Daniel Podence’s cutback through Sam Greenwood’s legs and into the far corner. When the going got tough, Leeds yet again lacked personality and grit. The players didn’t do enough to help the cause and their body language left a lot to be desired in the first 50 minutes. Wolves being a man down however helped keep a clean sheet in the second half.


Create a lot but don’t score enough


Buoyed by their last-gasp 2-1 win over basement side Norwich last weekend, Leeds started the brighter and aimed to lay down an early marker but their lack of cutting edge in the box cost them. Daniel James was a bundle of energy in the opening minutes but his intensity levels dropped rapidly. Not much changed from a creative viewpoint as Leeds still played an attack-minded style of football.

But the biggest change from the Marcello Bielsa days was perhaps their ability to switch defence into attack, all while maintaining their defensive structure. They audaciously attacked in numbers, pressed Wolves high up the pitch to win the ball back and force them into mistakes. As a result, they created chance after chance. But despite a flurry of chances they failed to take the lead as they simply need too many chances to score. Daniel James sent an effort over after two minutes before Rodrigo fired his volley from James’ cross wide. And Bamford didn’t do much better when he completely missed the target from close range.

But once Raul Jimenez was given his marching orders and they played a man up, they gathered momentum and grew in confidence. And within 13 minutes of the Mexican's sending off, they were level as they netted twice in four minutes.


The biggest change lies in the mentality


If it’s true that Leeds inevitably capitalised on Jimenez’s sending off to find a route back into the game, tonight’s astonishing comeback did not happen by accident. And having a man more on the pitch does not necessarily translate into success. Fighting from 2-0 down to win 3-2 requires willing runners, unwavering commitment, high pressing, belief and clinical edge, which they did not have when they spurned all those gilt-edged chance in the early stages of the game.

They also gave the ball away too cheaply in their own half, most notably Pascal Struijk being caught in possession before fall guy Jimenez’s attempted chip with Meslier off his line didn’t come off. But despite faltering, the Leeds players kept their cool, and looked a different beast in the second period. And their biggest difference from the Bielsa’s days lies in their ability to respond to setbacks and use it as positive fuel.

Two goals down and with their star striker and goalkeeper having had to come off to injury, they showed resilience and mental strength.

Leeds kept committing bodies forward but ex-Man United star James was denied by a well-timed sliding intervention on 85 minutes. Harrison then saw his bending effort palmed away by Jose Sa under the crossbar. Overall, Leeds had more chances than Wolves and deserved to come out on top in this fixture. And when Luke Ayling latched onto a loose ball inside the box to hammer home Leeds’ third in the 91th minute, a huge statement of intent was made.

This wasn’t just three points. This was Leeds extending their cushion to seven points on third-from-bottom Watford and sending out a warning to the rest of the league that, come August, they will still be a top-tier side.


Sacking Bielsa paid dividends


However painful it was to dispense with the Argentine tactician, Marsch looks to have found the winning formula for this Leeds side. Two wins from four shows just that. And their never-say-die attitude, having won two games in injury-time, has put Leeds almost out of danger. But they are not yet over the line as things can unravel really quickly in this division.


Injury woes


Leeds may have won the game but injuries to Meslier, Bamford, Mateusz Klich and Diego Llorente will undeniably take the shine off such a remarkable evening. Meslier's understudy Kristoffer Klaesson pulled off a majestic save deep into injury-time but is he good enough to start a Premier League game in the Frenchman's absence? And how bad is Bamford's relapse after returning following months on the sidelines?


MOLINEUX STADIUM


Wolverhampton Wanderers


1 Jose Sa- 3 Rayan Ait-Nouri- 8 Ruben Neves- 9 Raul Jimenez- 10 Daniel Podence- 15 Willy Boly- 16 Conor Coady- 19 Jonny- 27 Romain Saiss- 28 Joao Moutinho- 32 Leander Dendoncker


Leeds United


1 Illan Meslier- 2 Luke Ayling- 4 Adam Forshaw- 9 Patrick Brentford- 14 Diego Llorente- 15 Stuart Dallas- 19 Rodrigo- 20 Daniel James- 21 Pascal Struijk- 22 Jack Harrison- 43 Mateusz Klich


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