Patrick Bamford heads 'fantastic' winner to back Leeds United's judgement on Norwich City game
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It was not plain sailing, but with a number of chances missed in the second half the Whites were good value for their 1-0 win.
It maintained their unbeaten home record and gave them a fifth win in their first five games of a year for the first time in their history.
Manager Daniel Farke admitted his former club Norwich had tested his current side.
“I’m really pleased with that win,” he said.
“Credit to Norwich. They were one of the best sides we’ve played here this season. I expected a complicated game. Norwich were unbeaten in January and came here with freedom.
"They have many technical players and they played bravely so I’m more than happy with this win.
“Patrick scored a fantastic goal and it was great to get another victory.”
Farke was pleased with the way the players coped with the game after Sunday's tough outing with Preston.
He added: "I know January is busy and they had one more day to recover. Our squad is small at the moment. James and Gray struggling today added to other injuries.
“More than happy we won with another clean sheet. Four clean sheets in January. Pretty pleased with this.
“We created the better chances and it was a deserved win. They did not have many chances in the second half. They had one big chance at the end of the first half.
"At this moment you have to stick together. They had spells where they had good possession, but we were rock solid in our defending.”
Despite having an energy sapping game just three days earlier Leeds made a bright start, but were guilty of overplaying and did not get any efforts in on goal until the 14th minute when Bamford sent an overhead kick wide from Junior Firpo's cross.
Two minutes later they took the lead as Dan James picked out Bamford with a perfect cross and the Whites number nine did the rest with a strong header into the back of the net.
It was not the cue for domination as the rest of the half was more low key.
Norwich had a little spell in which Kenny McLean shot well over from inside the area, Jonathan Rowe had a shot from the edge of the box saved by Illan Meslier and right at the end of the half Gabriel Sara missed their best chance when he scuffed his shot wide after a cross had been deflected into his path.
Aside from a fine Bamford shot that flashed wide after good interplay with Crysencio Summerville Leeds struggled to create anything.
They upped their game at the start of the second half with Summerville shooting over in the box after a good turn and cross by half-time sub Jaidon Anthony.
But Norwich then had a long spell of possession with United looking to play on the counter attack and home fans getting frustrated.
That period ended when a crunching Firpo tackle lifted the crowd and a chance followed soon after when Summerville's shot was saved low down after good work by Rutter.
It was telling that for all their possession the visitors did not create a clear opportunity and the remainder of the game was about whether the Whites could put the game to bed.
Bamford played Anthony in, but a poor first touch allowed a defender to get back to make a block.
Firpo had a shot blocked as he latched onto a loose ball in the box then Summerville's low pull back set up Bamford only for him to shoot with his wrong foot and put the ball hopelessly wide.
Rutter twisted and turned in the area, but saw his shot saved by the keeper's legs and Summerville cut in from the left only for his shot to be deflected agonisingly wide.
Firpo forced a good save from Angus Gunn and a second goal just would not go in.
An error from referee Matthew Donohue deep into added time saw Norwich lucky not to concede again as Rutter ran the ball clear and with two against one and no keeper in the visitors' goal with Gunn in attack the official brought play back for a free-kick to Leeds.
It did not matter in the end as United got the three points they craved to keep them in the hunt for automatic promotion.
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Meslier; Gray (Byram 90+3), Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara (Cooper 90+5); James (Anthony 45), Rutter, Sumerville (Joseph 90+6)' Bamford.
Norwich: Gunn; Stacey, Duffy, Gibson (Fassnacht 72), Giannoulis; McLean, Nunez; Rowe (Idah 79), Sara, Sainz (Hernandez 59); Sargent (Barnes 79).
Referee: Matthew Donohue