Patrick Bamford loves playing away from home. Leeds’ leading goalscorer produced a beautifully “violent” goal inbetween making two others as Leicester lost for the first time in 10 games to miss out on returning to second place in the Premier League.
Leeds’ No 9 belted a memorable left-footed shot into the top corner 20 minutes from time as Marcelo Bielsa’s high-energy side made it two away wins in five days after their victory at Newcastle.
Eight of Bamford’s 11 league goals have come away from Elland Road and, after a fallow period of four games without a goal, he was also responsible for the assists for Stuart Dallas and Jack Harrison as Leeds overturned the lead Harvey Barnes had given Leicester, who missed the cutting edge of Jamie Vardy and the midfield presence of Wilfred Ndidi.
Of the promoted teams, Leeds have more points than West Brom and Fulham combined and, with injuries to Rodrigo and Raphinha, they finished with a side who were playing Championship football last July. Bielsa said: “When the club decided to build up the squad for this campaign, all the players were conserved because we thought they were up to this level.
“In order to be equal to our opponents we have to make them worse and try to preserve our virtues. To do these at the same time requires a massive physical effort. We have to run a lot to pressurise the opponents so they don’t come near our goal.”
This was such a Bielsa performance. Leeds’ insistence on going man for man when out of possession offered Barnes the room to run from deep through midfield, after James Justin had headed him Liam Cooper’s errant long pass, to arrive on the edge of the penalty area. There he played a one-two with James Maddison before his neat feet allowed home to steer a right-foot shot into the far corner, just beyond Ilan Meslier’s dive.
Within 127 seconds however, Leeds had equalised in a very Bielsa-ball fashion. After Luke Ayling had easily intercepted Maddison’s pass, Dallas made a fine diagonal run from left to right behind the Leicester defence to collect Bamford’s astute prompt and shoot, right-footed, past Kasper Schmeichel.
Brendan Rodgers has excelled at his in-game switches but while his change of shape to three at the back and three up front, with Caglar Soyuncu replacing Marc Albrighton, unsettled Leeds initially, they could not capitalise.
With Maddison and Barnes playing closer to Ayoze Pérez, Bielsa instructed Dallas to drop in alongside the centre-backs Cooper and Pascal Struijk, so that Kalvin Phillips could stay in his anchorman role in midfield.
Leicester did get in immediately after half-time, with some superb interplay culminating in Tielemans playing in Justin but the full-back took too long and his shot was blocked.
Then came Bamford’s super goal. Jonny Evans did not manage to get much purchase on his clearance and Struijk stepped in to beat Pérez to the ball. It fell to Raphinha whose exquisite first-time pass round the corner invited Bamford to strike, left-footed, a brilliant shot into the far top corner.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Bielsa said. “It was in a part of the goal it is difficult to find considering the violence of the shot.”
Evans might have equalised, as he stretched to stab a shot wide after Soyuncu headed on Maddison’s corner, but it was Leeds whose remarkable energy enabled them to break and score again six minutes from time.
It is the first time Leicester have lost after going ahead this season but Rodgers said: “They deserved to win the game.”