Leeds United made full use of their opportunity to go top of the Championship with a dominant 4-0 win over West Brom on Friday evening. Indeed, it was the perfect response from Marcelo Bielsa's side, who achieved their biggest win under his management while subsequently handing Darren Moore his biggest defeat.
A goal inside the opening minute from Pablo Hernandez followed by strikes from Patrick Bamford either side of half-time and a stoppage time tap-in for Ezgjan Alioski were enough to give Leeds the crucial points they craved, with expectations of promotion growing stronger week by week.
Story of the match: Leeds dominate Baggies to go top
Occupying third and fourth place in the league before kick-off, this had all the hallmarks of a nail biting Championship affair, with both teams setting their sights on obtaining crucial points for their respective promotion hopes. However, just twenty seconds into the game Leeds had the opener with an absolute rocket from Pablo Hernandez flying into the top corner.
Just the start that Bielsa would've wanted, the home side showed no signs of letting up, getting into the faces of the West Brom players in a high-octane pressing performance. Where Darren Moore's side lacked gumption and intent, Leeds showed it in abundance, pushing Luke Ayling and Ezgjan Alioski high up the pitch to create space for Mateusz Klich and Tyler Roberts in the middle, the latter of whom capitalised by delivering a man of the match display.
The Baggies, who came into the game with 67 goals to their name, twelve more than their opponents, showed surprisingly little in attack, delivering no answer to the freneticism, with top scorer Dwight Gayle and Hal Robson-Kanu on the periphery of the match.
Just before the half-hour mark Leeds would have their second of the evening, a well worked team move that typified their industrious performance. Klich was heavily involved once more, driving forward in possession before Tyler Roberts produce a deft through-ball to release Patrick Bamford. The former-Chelsea man would show no frailties in front of goal, ensuring the home team went in two goals to the good at half-time.
West Brom came out with more ingenuity at the beginning of the second-half, getting on the ball more in the middle of the park in an attempt to find a route back into the tie. They could well have had a goal too, but for Kiko Casilla's intervention, tipping Jay Rodriguez's long-range strike over the bar.
In truth, it was an evening where the away side struggled to show quality in the final third, desperately lacking the killer ball to exploit the pace of Dwight Gayle in behind.
A 64th minute strike from Patrick Bamford and a stoppage time tap-in for Ezgjan Alioski put the gloss on a result that was never in doubt, with three points putting Bielsa's side top of the table and in great stead for promotion to the Premier League.
Takeaways from the match
In a performance fuelled by attacking quality, Tyler Roberts shone brighter than most, proving to be the difference between the two sides. West Brom's midfield lacked a player capable of breaking the lines, someone to instigate the tempo and lift those around him. Meanwhile, in a man of the match display, the 20-year-old was Leeds' link man, continually offering for the ball, blessed with the pace and trickery to beat a man alongside the creativity and precision to find Patrick Bamford with through-balls in behind the line of defence. The hope now will be that Roberts can deliver this type of performance on a continual basis with a purring performance underlining the capabilities of this Leeds side.
From West Brom's perspective, Moore will be aware of the need to improve in the final third having struggled to stretch the home team and force Casilla into any telling saves. Indeed, when in possession, the away team didn't make use of it, cut out by the energy and drive of a relentless Leeds midfield. That resulted in very little service for Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez, both of whom came into the game in hot goalscoring form. However, the duo must shoulder some of the responsibility, having failed to provide incisive momentum to force defenders out of position as Bamford did all night. Combined with conceding an early goal, it left Moore's team with a mountain to climb - one which they never looked like conquering.