Hernandez and Leeds United show their class in win over Reading


Reading 0-3 Leeds United

Leeds United showed that they are a Premier League side in the making as they made light work of Reading in a blistering first half performance at the Madjeski. Marcelo Bielsa knew a win would see his side climb to the top of the table for 24 hours at least, with Norwich playing tomorrow night and they delivered in front of a well travelled away support.

Reading captain Paul McShane used his programme column to issue a rallying call to the fans, praising them for their support over the last few games. The defender called for more of what they gave in the dramatic 3-2 win against Wigan Athletic last time out.

Club 1871, a core of the most passionate Reading fans did everything they could to create the noise McShane had requested, drowning out the pre-match playlist in support of their team. Reading began the game shooting towards that group of fans, as they began the opening seconds on the front foot.

Both sides failed to take control of the game in the first 10 minutes, with passes flying astray before Tyler Roberts was cautioned for a late tackle on John Swift. Leeds goalkeeper Francisco Casilla was forced into the first save of the game, blocking his near post after an effort from Andrew Yiadom following a neat turn in the box.

Leeds United soon took the lead with their first meaningful chance in the game. A well worked move fed Luke Ayling down the right hand side who cut back for Mateusz Klich to slide into the bottom corner. Reading fashioned an opportunity soon after but Casilla mopped up well in his own box.

Leeds doubled their lead on 22 minutes as failure to close down from the Reading defence gave the magical Pablo Hernandez time to turn and fire low into the net via the post, leaving the home goalkeeper Damian Martinez little chance.

Ayling scythed down Tyler Blackett down the left and was shown a yellow card, the defender was immediately reprimanded for dissent but the referee stopped short of showing a second yellow, despite calls from the home crowd. Bielsa immediately rose from his seat to signal towards the defender, reminding him to keep his calm.

Reading carved Leeds open down the left on a rare chance for the home side, with Ayling a clear target for The Royals. Modou Barrow causing havoc but the final ball wasn’t good enough and Leeds cleared their lines.

Pablo Hernandez put the game to bed just minutes before half time. The Spaniard worked himself some space  before rifling the ball into the far corner from just outside the box. The half time whistle blew as the travelling hundreds broke into song. Leeds, are going up.

Reading had a golden opportunity to test Casilla just minutes into the restart. Daniel Loader broke through the middle but fluffed what seemed a simple pass and the chance was gone. Reading had another opportunity after Yakou Meite got the better of Egzijan Alioski. But again, the final ball lacked any quality, any purpose and the chance was spurned.

53 minutes gone and another foul by Ayling saw the Reading players and fans irate that the referee failed to show a second yellow and a dismissal for the full back. Bielsa immediately sent instruction to his bench, knowing there would not be another chance. Ayling left the field to a chorus of boo’s from the home crowd, Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas the replacement.

Leeds oozed confidence in the second half, Casilla showing his skill on the ball before playing a pin point pass to the right hand side. Hernandez then volleyed a 60 yard pass to the opposite flank, onto the toes of Alioski who mirrored the pass with Roberts the target. The Welshman failed to control the ball, but it was an example of the quality at Bielsa’s disposal.

Reading finally forced Casilla into a save of real quality, Yiadom finding space at the back post to fire a header goal wards for the former Real Madrid shot stopper to push over the bar.

Leeds freshened up their midfield, introducing 19 year old Jamie Shackleton in place of Tyler Roberts. Barrow of Reading also made way, with Michael Olise joining the field for his first Championship appearance for Reading after being in his first match day squad in the win against Wigan.

Bielsa’s side became uncharacteristically wasteful in-front of goal, with Patrick Bamford failing to hit the target with three well worked opportunities in as many minutes. The flurry of chances brought chants of ‘give it to Bamford’ from the home crowd.

The final few minutes saw Reading gain control of the game as they pushed for a consolation, but Leeds held firm as they took their place at the top of the Championship table. Reading visit Stoke next, and need a result to ensure they keep distance between themselves and the drop zone. Leeds face Sheffield United in what will surely prove to be a key clash in the race for automatic promotion.




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