Leeds United boss Daniel Farke 'proud' of his table topping players

Daniel Farke was proud of his Leeds United players after they overcame physical opponents again and some more questionable refereeing to sit on top of the Championship going into Easter.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Goals from Willy Gnonto and his second half replacement on the wing Dan James sealed a 2-0 success over Millwall that was what the Whites required to overtake Leicester at the top of the table, albeit from one game more.

They had to overcome a sticky patch midway through the second half when the visitors had a go after making four substitutions, but with better finishing and more luck could have won far more easily.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And they were denied a stonewall penalty in the opening half when Joe Rodon was virtually assaulted in a clumsy tackle by Jake Cooper right in front of the eyes of referee Stephen Martin.

Goal scorer Dan James and Georginio Ruttter lead the Leeds United celebrations after their 2-0 win over Millwall.Goal scorer Dan James and Georginio Ruttter lead the Leeds United celebrations after their 2-0 win over Millwall.
Goal scorer Dan James and Georginio Ruttter lead the Leeds United celebrations after their 2-0 win over Millwall.

The official must have been the only person in the ground not to see the incident as a penalty and his handling of the match came into question a number of times.

United did well to keep playing in the face of some questionable tactics and they pleased manager Farke with their attitude.

He said: "I am proud of the boys.

"We had a controlled performance and in the end we had a deserved win.

Joe Rodon clears danger at the back for Leeds United.Joe Rodon clears danger at the back for Leeds United.
Joe Rodon clears danger at the back for Leeds United.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's not easy to create chances against Millwall when they play as a compact unit.

"It’s always difficult against sides like Millwall who go back to their basics. They had so many experienced players on the pitch and when they face a young side and a quality side they know exactly what to do to break rhythm, to provoke a bit, to make players lose focus.

"After 60 minutes players who have yellow cards for them are substituted and the new guys can afford to have some yellow cards. This is how they play – and I don’t blame them, it’s what an experienced side has to do to win points. We adapted to this challenge.

"We scored two fantastic team goals, created a few more chances. It was also important not to give anything away, the best statistic was the corner tally, 13 to two because they're so dangerous from this situation.

Crysencio Summerville is brought down.Crysencio Summerville is brought down.
Crysencio Summerville is brought down.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Overall it was a mature performance, delighted for the boys. A priceless three points."

Farke wants his players to enjoy their achievement of hitting the top spot before getting back down to business with two games over Easter.

He added: “If you don't enjoy such a moment you'll ask yourself one day why you're doing all this disciplined work.

“It's a nice little treat for our players and supporters, after difficult years, they're now officially allowed to sing songs about this and they've had to wait a long time to be able to sing about it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But it doesn't change our situation. We have a cup final for in each and every game, especially away games, we're used to pressure in our games and for that it doesn't change much.

“But we also have to make sure we stay on it. It's a tight race. The points tally is important, we can be pretty proud but we want to be in a good position after 46 game days.

“It's necessary to enjoy but then to have 10 good training days before the Good Friday game in order to be perfectly prepared."

The pattern of the game was quickly established with Leeds doing most of the attacking and Millwall getting plenty of men back to protect their goal. The Whites looked sharper than in recent games with a longer recovery period behind them and an early warning of what was to come for their opponents saw Crysencio Summerville go on a smart run that ended with his shot being deflected over.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Patrick Bamford's seventh minute shot from a tight angle ended with the ball landing on top of the net instead of inside it then Summerville's angled shot was deflected just wide.

Millwall's first effort saw Zian Flemming's shot from outside the box comfortably saved by Illan Meslier.

Bookings outnumbered shots for a spell as the game had the usual spice associated between these two teams, but when back to football it was United making the running with Georginio Rutter blasting a volley over following a Gnonto cross after Patrick Bamford won the ball and had a chance to put the Italian in only to put too much pace on his pass.

The opening goal came soon after when there was no stopping Gnonto's superb strike after he cut in from his right wing to fire past keeper Matija Sarkic after collecting Rutter's pass.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leeds were quickly on attack again as Summerville went on a run and played Junior Firpo free down the left. His cross was deflected and only just kept out of the net by Sarkic.

Millwall skipper Cooper could count himself lucky to stay on the pitch after getting away with an elbow on Rutter as the two players chased a long ball. No foul was given to the relief of the defender who had already been booked for tangling with Gnonto.

Summerville again looked a danger man for the hosts when he cleverly made space for himself on the edge of the box and fired in a shot that needed to be well saved by Sarkic

The big talking point followed two minutes later as Cooper somehow avoided giving a penalty away for his mistimed challenge on Rodon. To home fans' added frustration Millwall broke away with Rodon still on the ground and earned a corner.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After lengthy treatment Rodon had to stand on the sideline to wait to come back on while the visitors were able to take the set piece with an extra man on their side and a key defender unable to stop them. But Martin found a mysterious free-kick to award to Leeds to maybe provide some common sense to the situation. It was still a dreadful mistake not to award the most blatant spot-kick seen on the ground this season, however, and the official left the field at half-time to loud boos and ridicule.

There was more frustration early in the second half as more Millwall fouls were not punished. Summerville had a chance with a free-kick just outside the box, but his shot was easily saved.

Bamford's near post volley went wide from a Summerville corner before the game changed for a while after the visitors threw on four subs at once and it gave them new life.

Ryan Longman sent a shot over then a scramble from a corner saw Cooper hook a shot just wide.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In between these efforts the Whites showed they still carried danger with Rutter having a shot saved following the move of the game and a Firpo pull back. Rutter latched onto the rebound only to see his cross kicked onto the post by Sarkic.

Meslier was called into action at the other end, beating away Michael Obafimi's shot and soon after the Millwall striker wriggled free in the box only to send his shot over.

But Leeds established control again and Bamford's flick at the near post was well blocked by Japhet Tanganga after he met a pull back by libely sub James.

It was 2-0 on 79 minutes when Rutter got free down the left and his low pull back found James unmarked. The Welsh international took his time, but found the net to the relief of the home crowd.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was comfortable enough for United from this point and they came within inches of adding to their lead when James hit the post with a fine strike.

(Gnonto 33, James 79)

Millwall 0

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 34,813

Leeds: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara (Roberts 90); Gnonto (James 69), Rutter (Piroe 90), Summerville (Anthony 74); Bamford (Joseph 90).

Millwall: Sarkic; Leonard (McNamara 62), Tanganga, Cooper, Bryan; Norton-Cuffy (Longman 62), Saville, Mitchell (Wattmore 62), Honeyman (de Norre 62); Flemming; Obafemi.

Referee: Stephen Martin