Leeds United: Goal hero Bamford earns praise from Bielsa
Patrick Bamford earned praise from his head coach, Marcelo Bielsa, after marking his return to the Leeds United first team with a winning goal at Bolton Wanderers.
The £7 million striker repaid a chunk of that fee when he came off the bench to score the only goal of the game in his first league game for the Whites since August.
After a bit of a false start at Elland Road, Bamford has had a good week, hitting a hat-trick for the under 23s side before his well taken goal at the University of Bolton Stadium - his first for Leeds in the Sky bet Championship since his move from middlesbrough.
He is likely to be back on the bench next week as he fights to win a starting place off 10-goal Kemar Roofe, but he is very much in Bielsa’s thoughts.
The United head coach said: “He can be very important.
“For him, it is very good for his confidence. He has worked very hard to gain his full fitness.
“And it’s important to have two important strikers in our team.
“It is very difficult to play in an offensive position for any team. And to have different possibilities. But we also have Jack Clarke, Jack Harrison, Tyler Roberts and Bamford in offensive positions.
“I always have the idea of having 18 starters in the team and also to have some youngsters to cover the necessities.”
On the game itself, which was tight, but saw Leeds dominate possession 70 per cent to 30 with their hosts failing to have a shot on target, Bielsa felt his side had done enough for victory.
He said: “It was deserved win but a hard one.
“With that possession we might have thought we would have created more chances but it wasn’t the case.”
The win moved Leeds back to the top of the table with Norwich drawing their game against Bristol City.
Heavy rain did not make playing football easy, but the Whites found a way again to get over the line as they made it five wins on the bounce.
They started well as a smart move started by Lewis Baker and Adam Forshaw in midfield saw Mateusz Klich drive at the home defence. He found Ezgjan Alioski out on the left and his cross picked out Pablo Hernandez, but the Spaniard saw his header tipped over by keeper Ben Alnwick.
Baker sent a header wide and Alnwick was forced to make another save from Klich’s mis-hit shot with the rebound in the six-yard area going wide off Roofe.
Further chances proved hard to come by in a goalless first half and Bielsa responded by taking Baker off, putting teenage talent Jack Clarke on the wing and moving Hernandez into a more central role.
Bolton offered a rare threat when Craig Noone cut inside from the right wing and curled a shot just past the post.
But it was United on the attack as Clarke went on a superb run down the right and was only denied by Alnwick at the near post.
Leeds went in front as Bamford was brought on for Roofe and scored with his first touch, a decisive finish after Clarke ran with the ball initially and Hernandez threaded a lovely little pass though to the substitute just inside the box.
Clarke continued to be a threat and Kalvin Phillips went close with a header.
Leeds then had a big scare when Forshaw’s underhit pass gave Noone a chance to run into the box and he tangled legs with Phillips. Huge shouts for a penalty were waved away, however,
The hosts went closest to an equaliser as Jack Hobbs’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by Barry Douglas.
They went for a big finish, but United saw the game out and could have added to their lead when Klich shot his 25-yard shot well saved low down by Alnwick.
Leeds completed victory without attacking midfielder Samuel Saiz, who was given permission to miss the game for what Bielsa described as “a personal situation”.
The 27-year-old looks set to join La Liga side Getafe in January with a view to the move becoming permanent.
Bielsa explained: “He has a personal situation to solve and the club allowed him to be absent.
““But I can’t tell you what will happen. What I can tell you he has the permission of the club to be absent but I don’t know what the personal reasons are for his absence.
“It is a decision between the club and Saiz. And I don’t know the facts.
“But he has the permission of the club to be absent from the group.
“What will happen in the future is linked to the club and Samu Saiz. As I don’t have information I can’t say anything more.
“It is very complicated to talk about the hypothesis. Because we don’t imagine the situation we can only analyse it if it actually happens. I can’t answer on hypotheticals.”
Bolton Wanderers 0
Leeds United 1
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Sky Bet Championship
Bolton: Alnwick, Olkowski, Wheater, Hobbs, Taylor, Williams (Oztumer 80), Lowe, Noone, Vela, Buckley (Wildschut 72), Magennis (Doidge 75).
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell, Shackleton, Jansson, Phillips, Douglas, Forshaw, Hernandez (Halme 90+4), Baker (Clarke 45), Klich, Alioski, Roofe (Bamford 61).
Referee: Robert Jones.