Before kick-off Marcelo Bielsa declared Leeds were trapped in “a negative cycle”, but his players devised the most compelling of exit strategies.
With Patrick Bamford’s movement unhinging an increasingly disorientated Newcastle, it facilitated a stylish escape, ending a run of four points from their previous six games. Rodrigo and Jack Harrison excelled but, along the way, Steve Bruce received another reminder of his team’s limitations.
“It was a deserved victory, we attacked a lot,” said Bielsa, with a certain understatement. “We managed the ball very patiently; that’s the thing that most impressed me”
At times the home side monopolised with almost 75% of possession, mustering 25 shots on target but, initially, they struggled to translate the dominance into goals.
Jamal Lewis fed Ryan Fraser whose whipped-in cross was flicked on by Callum Wilson, leaving Hendrick to apply the finishing touch.
Bruce’s four summer signings had combined to create what would prove a fragile, highly deceptive, lead.
If Newcastle can be effective they also remain flawed and no one was entirely surprised when Bamford equalised on the rebound, nodding in from close range after Rodrigo’s header in the wake of Raphinha’s cross had rebounded off the bar. It was Bamford’s ninth goal in 13 games this season, not bad for a player widely predicted to struggle at this level.
Karl Darlow was once coveted by Bielsa and he reminded the Argentinian of his quality by performing wonders to repel Raphinha’s half-volley and redirect Liam Cooper’s header.
Federico Fernández made a vital block to deny Rodrigo and even though Newcastle thought they might have had a penalty when Cooper clattered Wilson, Leeds retained an aggressive intensity.
Not for nothing, though, does Bruce praise Newcastle’s resilience and back they came, Ciaran Clark meeting Fraser’s cross to head beyond Ilan Meslier.
Even so, an audacious backheel by Bamford might have prefaced another visiting concession before Leeds’s third goal, with 12 minutes remaining, was headed past Darlow by the unmarked Stuart Dallas following Mateusz Klich’s cross.
Ezgjan Alioski struck from just inside the area after being superbly set up by substitute Pablo Hernández at the end of a clever counterattacking move before Harrison, after gathering the ball 10 yards inside his own half, completed the scoring with a fabulous 25-yard shot into the top-left corner.
“We’ve been punished for giving away bad goals,” said Bruce, who must have struggled to comprehend how Leeds had failed to win their previous five games here.
“We should have had a penalty, but some of our defending was what you see on a park on a Sunday. We gave the ball away far too cheaply, far too many times.
“In areas where we could have hurt Leeds, we missed the pass far too often. It’s difficult to swallow.”