Leeds United 2-1 Swansea City - United sink Swans to move back to the top

Leeds United 2-1 Swansea City - United sink Swans to move back to the top

Two first-half goals were enough to seal the win for Leeds, moving them back to the top of the league in the process

Jack Groom

 Leeds United moved back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship after they beat Swansea City 2-1 at Elland Road.

Goals from Pontus Jansson and Jack Harrison within the opening 35 minutes were enough to secure victory for the Whites, who held on despite a late Oli McBurnie penalty that created a nail-biting finish.

Their latest three points, combined with Norwich City's 3-1 loss away at Preston North End, see Marcelo Bielsa's outfit move back to the summit. Meanwhile, for Swansea, results elsewhere see them drop a place to 12th.

The story of the match

The home side were the quickest out of the blocks and immediately penned in their visitors, yet despite their early dominance could not muster an attempt on target.

Having weathered that ten-minute storm Graham Potter's men looked to assert their authority on the game, and began to look increasingly assured offensively with a number of slick one-twos and neat interplay - although they too could not convert their possession into chances.

And soon after they were made to pay.

A Leeds corner into the box was not cleared, and after a game of pinball defender Jansson was the first to make real contact on the ball. His cool left-footed effort evaded those surrounding him - including goalkeeper Erwin Mulder - and found its way into the bottom corner to put his side ahead.

The Swans almost hit back on the half-hour mark, but the outstretched leg of Mike Van Der Hoorn was an inch too short to convert Barrie McKay's tantalising ball back across the goal line after a well-worked free-kick.

And yet again, their failure to score when on top would haunt them.

A superb cross-field Luke Ayling pass was brought down by Ezgjan Alioski on the left wing, and the Macedonian immediately whipped in a vicious cross straight onto the head of the unmarked Harrison ten yards out.

The former New York City attacker had plenty of time to choose where to place his effort and smartly buried his glanced attempt low to Mulder's right to widen the margin of the score.

With it being crucial for the visitors to grab the next goal if they wished to gain anything from the match, they came out sharp after the interval.

A Matt Grimes free-kick from the edge of the penalty area was deflected onto the post in the 48th minute, whilst United stopper Kiko Casilla had to be alert to divert away a Joel Asoro shot after the substitute had been played through on the angle in the box.

Those of a white and yellow persuasion were in for a nervy last five minutes, however.

A ball down the line in the 87th minute was pursued by Asoro and Ayling, and it was the pacy Swedish forward who won the race.

His quick feet were too sharp for the retreating defender, who could only succeed in tripping him in the corner of the box and thus the award of a penalty to the team from South Wales.

Fellow substitute McBurnie stepped up and duly sent Kiko the wrong way to give his side a glimmer of hope as the game headed into injury time.

Takeaways from the match

Leeds rotation outstanding

It is strikingly obvious why Leeds sit top of the Championship: their offensive fluidity is outstanding. With five or six players constantly changing the positions they are taking up, it becomes impossible for defending players to mark them such is their movement.

What is even more impressive is how they combine this with defensive security, with every individual knowing their roles inside out. They are a  trademark Bielsa side, and 'El Loco' has once again proven his coaching genius.

Swans have potential - but must stay switched on

There is no doubt that offensively Swansea have the potential to be a very dangerous side. They demonstrated tonight their capabilities - albeit fleetingly - and have attackers who can hurt opponents.

Yet they cannot afford to give away goals of the calibre that they did tonight if they wish to have a successful season. Coming to this part of Yorkshire and getting a result is hard enough as it is; with defending as they displayed for the goals conceded here, it is nigh-on impossible.

Bielsa's boys rampant for success

Alongside such attacking interchanging, another hallmark of a Bielsa side is their willingness to hunt, harry and harangue opponents in search of winning the ball back - and Leeds are no exception to that rule.

They gave the Swans midfielders no time on the ball, suffocating them of space or time in order to prevent attacks at their source. 

Player of the match - Ezgjan Alioski

Now deployed at left-back, attacker-by-trade Alioski is doing a sterling job for his team.  

Giving them such genuine threat from deep when combining with the winger in front of him, it was his cross that set up their second goal tonight - taking him into double figures for combined goals and assists for the season - and to have such a luxury in addition to the individuals they possess in traditional forward roles is incredible.

He demonstrated his work ethic countless times tonight through either sprinting to join attacks or seeking to prevent them against. A superb all-round display.