Leeds boss Steve Evans was delighted for the “wonderful” Mirco Antenucci after the striker’s ninth goal of the season sealed a 2-1 win at Blackburn.
A lively first half, which was end-to-end at times, swung in Leeds’ favour 34 minutes in when Sol Bamba was left unmarked six yards out to volley in his second of the season. The advantage was doubled through a slick 69th-minute counter attack finished by Antenucci’s effort that was lifted over Jason Steele.
A largely comfortable second-half performance was made nervy by Simeon Jackson’s first Blackburn goal a minute from the end but Leeds were able to hold on to register a first win over Rovers at the eighth attempt.
And after a fourth goal in his last three games, Evans was full of praise for Italian forward Antenucci.
He said: “When I see Antenucci go through in that fashion, I only think he’s going to score. I’ve said many times what a wonderful finisher he is on the training ground but there’s been a lot of wonderful finishers on the training ground over the years that can’t hit a barn door when they come out of it but Antenucci’s very much as good on the pitch as he is on the training ground. His touch before he dinks it over the boy Steele is a fantastic touch because the opportunity for the goalkeeper to advance and to put it where he wants.
“He’s a wonderful player. I’m so pleased for him. He is one player playing with determination for a place in the team. He’s often the difference between winning and losing.”
After the nadir of the 4-0 defeat at Brighton on the last day of February, Leeds have bounced back in impressive style by winning three on the trot for the first time in over three years in the league and Evans could not hide his delight as his side crept into the top half of the Championship table.
“I think it’s the first time this football club managed to do three wins in a week in competitive games since 2012 so that’s a statistic we made the players aware of,” he said.
“I think from the minute we scored the goal, Blackburn supporters will go home tonight as well as Leeds supporters and say what a wonderful performance that was from Leeds because our one and two-touch passing all around the pitch was fantastic to watch from the side.”
The defeat ended Blackburn’s four-game winning run at Ewood Park and their seven match streak without defeat against these opponents.
It is hardly surprising considering the amount of games the club have had, having been victims of their successful FA Cup run and after a ninth game since the start of February, Paul Lambert sympathised with his side’s ‘gruelling’ exertions.
He said: “I don’t think we deserved to lose. I thought we were well on top until they scored. We started the game really well and losing the goal through a set play was disappointing.
“The second goal was probably even more so disappointing but I’ve said to them, you’ve played so many games in a short space of time and I don’t know if any other team has had the schedule we’ve been on and it’s gruelling.
“It’s the same lads going out week in, week out, and I knew one game was going to come back and bite because of the amount of games we’ve played.
“I couldn’t fault the effort and the commitment, the way they played. It was just a game too far for us with the games we’ve had.”
Blackburn: Steele, Marshall, Duffy, Hanley, Spurr, Bennett, Lenihan, Akpan, Gomez, Watt, Graham. Subs: Brown, Ward, Grimes, Evans, Conway, Raya, Jackson.
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Bamba, Taylor, Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Mowatt, Cook, Antenucci, Doukara. Subs: Wootton, Murphy, Wood, Dallas, Carayol, Botaka, Grimes.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)
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