Leeds United 3 Southampton 0 - Raphinha sparkles to earn rich praise from Marcelo Bielsa

At times at Elland Road, it was like football on steroids, so ferociously did two teams in need of a win go at one another. Coach Marcelo Bielsa claimed Leeds United’s 3-0 win over Southampton was flattering but not for the first time this week, modesty perhaps got the better of him.

Ralph Hasenhuttl boomed orders throughout and with 10 minutes to go his opposite number went absolutely berserk when Ezgjan Alioski surrendered possession deep in Saints’ half. “Ali! Ali!” screamed Bielsa, also getting deep into Southampton (coaching) territory.

Anyone worried about the Argentinian staying for next season should breathe easily. He is fanatically committed.

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As far as he is concerned, the only question mark is whether results put doubts in the mind of the Leeds board. There was reassurance on that too, three precise left-footed finishes putting back-to-back defeats to bed and moving the Whites back into the top half. They look a top-half team, a big compliment in their first Premier League season.

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring Leeds's second goal.  Picture Bruce RollinsonStuart Dallas celebrates scoring Leeds's second goal.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring Leeds's second goal. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Raphinha scored the third in an outstanding display. All the spurned chances he created cast Bielsa’s words into doubt.

“He’s very ambitious, very competitive,” commented the coach. “He works a lot and on top of that he’s creative and can unbalance. I sincerely think I can add very little to his game.” This time he might have had a point.

Like their coaches, both sides are very intense but early on Southampton seemed to catch Leeds on the hop.

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Both sides struggled with their footing on Elland Road’s second unreliable pitch this season, but the hosts were also giving the ball away too easily. Even Raphinha gifted possession to James Ward-Prowse, who found Nathan Tella.

Leeds players tribute to Kalvin Phillips' Grandma 'Granny Val'  at full time. Picture Bruce RollinsonLeeds players tribute to Kalvin Phillips' Grandma 'Granny Val'  at full time. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Leeds players tribute to Kalvin Phillips' Grandma 'Granny Val' at full time. Picture Bruce Rollinson

The winger on his first league start went down under a challenge from Diego Llorente, only making his second start. Replays showed Tella was searching for contact and tumbling.

Called to the pitchside monitor, Andre Marriner overturned the penalty but surprisingly, disappointingly, incorrectly, did not book Tella.

Leeds might have thought they were due a penalty five minutes later but Raphinha was on the end of a brilliant Oriol Romeu tackle, chasing back as Stuart Dallas’s pass sprang the counter-attack.

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Raphinha’s switch from left to right wing helped Leeds settle after a difficult opening as the Saints pressed ferociously.

Jannik Vestergaard had an excellent chance after six minutes, getting in front of Pascal Struijk, but put it wide.

Illan Meslier started the second half by denying Nathan Redmond and a minute later Leeds took the lead, using the spaces the stretched-out game opened. Llorente clipped to Tyler Roberts, who played a wonderful pass given a cool Bamford finish.

“Having been able to score so quickly opens up the game,” said Bielsa and it heralded an even more intense period, Meslier making a terrific low save from Stuart Armstrong.

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Twice Raphinha took difficult passes brilliantly, got to the byline and pulled the ball back for what ought to have been goals. Roberts and substitute Helder Costa shot over from the edge of the area, the latter under more pressure. Dallas showed great patience to pick out Bamford whose shot, like Roberts’s follow-up, was saved. Alex McCarthy denied Llorente with a reflex left-footed save from another Raphinha pull-back.

Bamford cleared Vestergaard’s header from right in front of Meslier, but Dallas soon picked out Costa who found the net. He celebrated by paying tribute to the late grandmother of the injured Kalvin Phillips, as the whole team did at full-time.

Raphinha added a brilliant free-kick curled around the wall.

Bielsaball is so beautiful to watch. Why would anyone in their right mind want to end it?

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Leeds United: Meslier; Llorente, Cooper, Struijk; Ayling, Klich (Alioski 59), Dallas; Roberts (Hernandez 75); Harrison (Costa 46), Bamford, Raphinha. Unused substitutes: Casilla, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Jenkins, Casey, Huggins.

Southampton: McCarthy; Bednarek, Vestergaard, Salisu, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Tella (Minamino 58); Adams, Redmond (Ings 58). Unused substitutes: Stephens, Djenepo, Ramsay, N’Lundulu, Forster, Jankewitz, Chauke.

Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).

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