Bamba special lights up Leeds United victory
A superb second half display that included a goal of the season contender from Sol Bamba brought Leeds United a third straight victory as they beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 at Elland Road.
The final score did not do justice to how exciting United’s play was after the break as the Whites finally took the shackles off and Wolves were lucky to escape a real hammering.
With Lewis Cook in outstanding form in the week he was named the Championship young player of the year and Chris Wood leading the line strongly in probably his best performance in a Leeds shirt the hosts swarmed forward and only the woodwork prevented them from running up their biggest score of the season.
The win did take them up to 11th place in the table and boosted their hopes of a top half finish.
It did not look so promising in the first 20 minutes as Wolves played some neat football and created the first opening with George Saville shooting wide from the edge of the box.
Wood showed some of what was to come a minute later when bursting onto a loose ball to fire in a low shot that hit the post.
Wolves should have gone ahead as James Henry was found unmarked in the box, but he somehow volleyed wide.
A massive scramble followed soon after when a Henry shot had been half-blocked and Leeds were relieved to have their goal intact at this point.
They gradually got control, however, and it was the Wood show as he hit a 25-yard free-kick wide then could only finish tamely from close range from Cook’s low cross, his shot being comfortably saved by Carl Ikeme.
Wood produced a great turn outside the box and ran strongly to the edge of the box only to shoot wide.
Near half-time, Lee Erwin, in his first start for Leeds, was picked out by Toumani Diagouraga on the edge of the box and chested the ball down smartly before volleying wide.
Wolves threatened straight after the break as full-back Matt Doherty charged forward only to shoot wide.
But they were soon being forced back again with Charlie Taylor hitting a 25-yard free-kick wide and substitute Stuart Dallas seeing a far post volley deflecting wide in his first minute of being on the field.
Huge pressure was being exerted on the visitors’ goal and their defence cracked on the hour as Dallas found Bamba lurking out on the right wing. The skipper promptly chested the ball down and from 20 yards out smashed an angled half-volley into the top corner of the net for a memorable goal.
Four minutes later rampant United doubled their lead when Cook’s low cross found Diagouraga in the box and the big midfielder produced a calm finish to make it 2-0.
With the crowd bringing out the “ole’s” Leeds were enjoying themselves more than at any time this season and came close to a third goal when Luke Murphy’s curling shot was well held by Ikeme.
But completely against the run of play Wolves pulled a goal back after Ikeme’s clearance under pressure from substitute led to Saville being given the chance to shoot home from the edge of the box.
Within a minute Leeds came within inches of another goal of the season contender when Cook went on a brilliant run from the edge of his own box to the edge of the other and Wood laid the ball off to Botaka who was so unlucky to see his shot come back off the underside of the crossbar.
Liam Cooper headed wide from a corner shortly after, but Wolves almost grabbed an undeserved point when Joe Mason raced clear after the ball skipped off Cooper’s head only to see his shot saved by Marco Silvestri’s legs.
However, there were no further alarms and Leeds were able to look back on one of their best displays of the season at home.
Leeds United 2
(Bamba 60, Diagouraga 64)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Coyle (Dallas 57), Diagouraga, Murphy (Bridcutt 81), Cook, Erwin (Botaka 74), Wood.
Wolves: Ikeme, Iorfa, Hause, Batth, Doherty, Henry, Saville, Price, Helan (Le Fondre 55), Edwards, Sigurdarson (Mason 73).
Referee: David Coote.