Leeds United 4 Norwich City 0 EFL Championship PlayOff 2nd leg.

Last updated : 18 May 2024 By David Watkins

16th May 2024, EFL Championship playoff Second leg.

There were some fans saying before this game that Leeds would win, but based purely on hope and little expectation other than the fact we seemed to have at least peered around the corner at Norwich; peered around it but with no clear evidence we’d actually turned it.

I guess therefore it was totally predictable and so ‘Leeds United’ that suddenly, out of the blue, we’d find the all-important reset button and transform ourselves back into the unstoppable force we were between 1st Jan and 1st April. The scene was set perfectly for it to happen; 33,000 scarves, one tied to every Leeds seat in the ground, reminded us all of that day exactly five years earlier when Derby came to town and when Leeds self-destructed in a catastrophic second half. I thought the scarf initiative was tempting fate, threatening to re-awaken whatever football gods keep popping up to destroy our hopes every time it looks like we’ve banished them! Not this time, but do we know how we suddenly transformed back into Super Leeds having been Sunday League Rovers for the last six weeks?

With Elland Road rocking and scarves twirling or held aloft as MOT blasted out all around the ground everything seemed set – even the sight of Cree Summerville and Joel Piroe lining up one behind the other as the teams appeared just felt like that reset button was fully depressed with so many rumours going around recently that they’d prefer not to be in each other’s company! All we needed was a good start, maybe an early goal and suddenly we’d be back where we were when the Canaries’ East Anglian neighbours came here and got spanked four-nil. We could hope.

Sometimes, it just all comes together and today was one of those days. For the first time in weeks, all our players looked like, well, looked like themselves, and not some poor shadow of themselves. Joel Piroe in particular looked a yard quicker and fitter, Joe Rodon was marauding forward like prime Beckenbauer, Georginio had the ball glued to his boots again and Illan Meslier looked confident. It was literally a total transformation. Our intentions to attack were signalled as early as the 4th minute when Cree Summerville got behind the Norwich defence following a deft back heel from Georginio to lash a shot over the bar; close but no cigar. Three minutes later though and the marauding Joe Rodon was slaloming through towards the Canaries box when he was needlessly barged to the floor by Nunez. Free kick to Leeds, 30 yards and slightly to the right of the Norwich net. There was some chat between Summerville, Gruev and the Leeds bench before the two Leeds men set themselves, Gruev and Summerville still in conversation. Then Glen Kamara ran diagonally across them, left to right, Summerville stepped over the ball to the right and a few Norwich defenders followed them while Angus Gunn took station guarding the far post. Just as Gruev pulled the trigger there was a perfect gap in front of him and he clipped the ball towards the near post and it gently bounced once before rippling the net just inside that post with Gunn having left too much space to cover. Elland Road had indeed ignited.

It was only a one-nil lead of course so initially the nerves were still there, fuelling the demands for another goal and even greater effort but Leeds were looking very good and soon had that second all-important cushion-goal. A delightful Willy Gnonto curling right wing cross, Angus Gunn coming for it, then deciding not to and Joel Piroe watching it, free at the back post, able to steer the ball back past Gunn into the net. It was dire defending again from Norwich but perfect execution by Leeds. Cree Summerville was first to join Piroe in his celebration, launching himself onto his back, everything seemingly forgiven.

There was a quick reminder that this game was not quite done and dusted yet as that man Ashley Barnes threaded a ball through the centre of the Leeds defence. Ethan Ampadu raced across to challenge Sargent for the ball bu missed both ball and man and Sargent was through, one on one with Illan Meslier. Illan has attracted much criticism lately but it cannot be denied he's one hell of a shot stopper and this time he was again up to the task. As Sargent lifted the ball to try to clear Meslier, up snaked a big right hand to swat it away to safety. It would be the one and only attempt on target from the Canaries all evening. 

Leeds killed the game in the 40th minute and, once again it looked like another sign that we'd turned that metaphorical corner. It came after 30 uninterrupted Leeds passes as we searched for an opening. We found it in the form of the rejuvenated Joel Piroe, collecting the ball and turning and then leaving three yellow shirts in his wake. Hi low cross eluded Summerville who was under a challenge from Duffy but the big defender could only poke the ball right into the path of Georginio who stabbed it unerringly into the roof of the net! Now, when Georginio scores like that you just know we've turned a corner! 

A fourth goal sealed things and got the fans singing the Wembley arias midway into the second half. A Willy Gnonto shot parried away by the busy Angus Gunn, Junior Firpo on hand to collect and he set up a simple tap-in for Cree Summerville.

We can only wonder how this incredible return to form suddenly came about in time for this crucial game but what is certain is that, if we can put a similar performance together at Wembley in ten days time, no team could live with it.

Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg

Leeds United 4 (Gruev 7’, Piroe 20’, Rutter 40’, Summerville 68’)

Norwich City 0

Leeds: Meslier (GK), Firpo, Ampadu (C), Piroe (Joseph 74’), Kamara, Summerville (Anthony 74’), Rodon, Gray, Georginio (Roberts 74’), Gnonto (James 69’), Gruev (Cooper 83’). Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Cresswell, Shackleton, Gelhardt.

Norwich: Gunn (GK), Stacey, Gibson (McCallum 63’), Sargent (Sainz 46’), Barnes (van Hooijdonk 81’), Sara, McLean (C), Duffy, Nunez, Rowe (Sorensen 81’), Giannoulis (Fassnacht 63’). Subs not used: Long (GK), Hanley, Batth, Fisher.

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Booked: Gruev, Georginio (Leeds) Rowe, McLean (Norwich)

Venue: Elland Road

Attendance: 36,384