Leeds United allowed to take it easy in 5-0 win over West Bromwich Albion

After a strenuous Christmas weekend, all you really want is to take it easy. West Bromwich Albion were the perfect hosts for Leeds United.

GOAL: Rodrigo puts Leeds United 4-0 up before half-time

If Burnley made them work hard for a 1-0 win on Sunday, the Baggies practically rolled out the red carpet at the Hawthorns, waving the Whites on their way to a 5-0 win with a flag in their colours.

Sam Allardyce's latest club proved to be ideal opponents for Marcelo Bielsa, providing 11 mannequins laid out in a meticulous shape for his players to pass their way around. The result was four first-half goals for the Whites. The Baggies were even kind enough to set them on their way with a comedy own goal.

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Even accounting for the lack of supporters – the hosts did their best to pump up an atmosphere with an erratic playlist that veered dramatically from “The Lord is my Shepherd” to “Jump Around” - it was an incredibly subdued start to the match as Leeds were allowed to pass in front of their hosts, perhaps over-confident after conceding 78 per cent of possession and an early goal in Sunday's draw at Anfield.

A Rodrigo crossed flashed across the goal and a lovely dinked pass from Kalvin Phillips, restored to an XI which was unchanged in personnel but not shape, was all the early excitement until Romaine Sawyers had a ninth-minute brainwave and played the ball back to where he thought Sam Johnstone was. Like all good goalkeepers, Johnstone had moved outside the posts to avoid the possibility of an own goal. Or so he thought.

Still the Baggies played the same way.

They actually had a 20th-minute attack, DarnellFurlong getting down the right and crossing. Stuart Dallas came over to clear but was furious he had to. “Too f***ing easy” came the angry shout.

Generally, though, it was all Leeds and just a question of when the next goal would come. They may not be the deadliest finishers, but granting them so much of the ball – they saw 70 per cent of it in the first half, though it felt like much more – was tempting fate a bit too much.

Phillips curled a shot Johnstone held onto and Jack Harrison blazed wide before Ezgjan Alioski thumped a Rodrigo cross deflected to him off Patrick Bamford.

Harrison had again looked off-colour until he exchanged passes with Alioski, then Bamford, and put a precise finish into the net.

With nine minutes to half-time, it was already just about game management.

Alioski went off the field to have some blood mopped up, pushing Bamford into a no doubt unwanted cameo on the left, and returned telling the linesman to “Watch him!” but rather than trust him to do that, he decided it was his job to punish Darnell Furlong, and picked up an unnecessary yellow card. Bielsa allowed him to see out the game and there were no more indiscretions.

Rodrigo's deflected goal when the ball came in from the right made it 4-0 at the interval. Allardyce responded to the challenge by reverting to a flat back five.

Leeds tried to stay professional with Luke Ayling setting the standards from centre-back. “Do it properly!” he demanded when a Raphina corner did not meet his standards. With only one forward to worry about, he regularly brought the ball out of defence to try to make things happen.

Not that everyone was quite so immune to sloppiness. Illan Meslier was called on to deny Grady Diangana when Leeds switched off in the 57th minute as Mateusz Klich lay prone with a night-ending injury. His replacement, Jamie Shackleton, could be forgiven when his poor touch caused a move to break down a minute later – it was, after all, his first of a cold evening.

Even Ayling ended up catching it, a poor touch turning a throw-in into a comfortably dealt-with corner.

Generally, though, the claret-shirted visitors were in complete control, always looking to attack – good possession is, as Bielsa likes to point out, the best form of defence – but not so desperate as to force it.

Shackleton's touch in the build-up to the fifth goal, after 73 minutes, was sublime, feeding Dallas for a pass Raphinha came in off the line to finish emphatically.

Pablo Hernandez and Helder Costa were able to get valuable minutes under their belt as Rodrigo and Raphinha, who have added so much to this team, took early darts and Meslier collected a sixth Premier League clean sheet of the season – one more than miserly, defence-focused Jose Mourinho has eked out at Tottenham Hotspur – to go with his clean shirt.

You could watch the football Leeds played all day, and West Brom pretty much did. Of course there will be far bigger tests to come, but anyone who wants to change Bielsa's style cannot like football very much.

West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O'Shea, Peltier; Robinson, Phillips (Ivanovic 46), Sawyers, Gallagher, Diangana (Krovinovic72); Grant (Pereira 61).

Unused substitutes: Grosicki, Austin, Harper, Peltier, Kipre, Button.

Leeds United: Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha (Costa 81), Klich (Shackleton 57), Rodrigo (Hernandez 70), Harrison; Bamford.

Unused substitutes: Poveda, Roberts, Casilla, Davis, Jenkins, Casey.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

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