Leeds United vs Ipswich Town. Sky Bet Championship.
Leeds return to the top of Sky Bet Championship after comfortable win.
Thursday 25 October 2018 07:19, UK
Pablo Hernandez showed his class as Leeds returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 2-0 victory over struggling Ipswich at Elland Road.
United's progress under Marcelo Bielsa had stalled in recent weeks with just two wins in eight outings without the playmaker in their starting line-up.
But the fit-again Spaniard returned with a bang, laying on goals for Kemar Roofe and Liam Cooper to ensure Leeds got their promotion drive back on track.
The defeat cranked up the pressure on Ipswich boss Paul Hurst. Town are rooted to the bottom of the table, winning just once this term, and appeared out of their depth in front of a crowd of 29,082 in Yorkshire.
One of three changes made by Bielsa, Hernandez had the first chance of the game. The 33-year-old blasted a volley over after Roofe charged down nervy goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski's clearance.
Ex-Leeds loanee Matthew Pennington almost returned to haunt his former side, heading tamely at Bailey Peacock-Farrell from Adetayo Edun's free-kick in the 16th minute.
But it was Leeds who took the lead six minutes later following a superb flowing move. Several slick passes led to Hernandez collecting the ball on the right and delivering a pinpoint cross that Roofe headed in from close range for his first goal since August.
Leeds sensed blood and piled forward at every opportunity, with Gjanni Alioski firing off target and the returning Luke Ayling having a shot deflected over.
With midfielder Kalvin Phillips dictating play from centre-back, United continued to dominate at the start of the second half.
Stuart Dallas, on for the injured Gaetano Berardi, sliced an Alioski cutback wide and then had a shot deflected behind.
Roofe could not divert a header on target, but Leeds got the second goal they deserved after 66 minutes. Hernandez was the architect as he danced into the box and passed to Phillips, who stepped over the ball, allowing centre-back Cooper space to side-foot into the top corner with his right foot.
Winger Alioski was pushed further up-field when recognised left-back Tom Pearce was introduced on the hour mark and the Macedonian almost scored a third, firing an effort against the post.
Bialkowski prevented Ipswich from falling further behind as the one-way traffic continued, tipping substitute Adam Forshaw's shot behind and beating out Alioski's fierce drive.
Town almost sneaked a way back into the game with eight minutes remaining, but Peacock-Farrell was alert to push away Jon Nolan's low effort.
Marcelo Bielsa: "[Hernandez] was very important in the game. He played as if he was not injured previously. He was very intelligent with his game.
"It was a necessary win, a deserved one too. Our team was constantly offensive and we had 10 clear chances to score a goal. In the second half we defended well. In the first half it was hard for us to get over the way the opponent played the game."
Paul Hurst: "I am not one to go searching for it (speculation over my future), but I don't lock myself in a room and don't speak to anyone.
"Unfortunately those things are out there. Are they healthy? No. All you can do is focus on your job and do it to the best of your ability. It doesn't help."