Leeds United forced to show gritty side after first-half exhibition against Burnley

The team that can only play one way needed to show two sides of their personality to beat Burnley.

Question marks about Marcelo Bielsa's approach are always going to fall on deaf ears – he has a way of playing he passionately believes in, and quite rightly sticks to it. But even within that there are nuances and having showed the full range of their beautiful – if at times frustratingly forgiving football – in the first half, Leeds dug in during the second half to claim a 1-0 win.

Burnley will point to their bad luck, most notably when Ashley Barnes had a goal wrongly disallowed, but such is the beauty of Leeds's football, their character does not always get the credit it deserves.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Luke Ayling and Kalvin Phillips, the two non-centre-backs in their back three, made big contributions to a win as difficult as victories over Burnley are supposed to be.

PENALTY: Patrick Bamford

Confronted with the Clarets' narrow 4-4-2, Leeds went with a 3-3-3-1 formation that gave summer signings Raphinha and Rodrigo lots of space they took advantage of, but only to an extent.

The Whites were by far the superior side in the opening 45 minutes but having failed to build on their early goal, they could easily have gone in level at half-time.

They took the lead after just five minutes, receiving an early penalty for the second time in three home matches.

Luke Ayling's early pass released former Claret Patrick Bamford, who was bundled over by Nick Pope. Against West Ham United, the side's normal penalty taker, Mateusz Klich, had needed two attempts to find the net but this time Bamford took the ball and emphatically thumped it high into the net.

Straight passes were causing Burnley a lot of problems and Ayling found another to pick out Rodrigo, who was getting into good positions without quite making the most of them. His pass on to Jack Harrison was poor. The Spaniard's shot from a Raphinha ball was weak, and he headed a good chance over after a one-two with Harrison.

A moment shortly before he was substituted in the seond half summed up his day – “ah”s from the directors box as he pulled the ball out of the air, followed by a pass unsympathetically drilled at Raphinha he was unable to deal with.

Klich hit a couple of terrible shots and when Ben Mee's pass across his own goal let in Raphinha, Harrison's shot from the pull-back was blocked, and Pope saved from the excellent Raphinha.

Generally, with Phillips so assured at the heart of the defence as Diego Llorente was nowhere to be seen, but twice in the first half the Clarets could have made Leeds pay for thgeir lack of ruthlessness.

They had the ball in the net from Barnes after 18 minutes but because Illan Meslier dropped a cross, referee Robert Jones seemed to assume there must have been a foul. There was, but it was the goalkeeper's, putting his knee in the back of Mee.

Michael Oliver is an excellent referee but strangely not a great video assistant referee. It was unclear if he intervened, but Jones's bad decision stood.

Wood put a good header over from Westwood's 32nd-minute cross. He towered above Ayling, but perhaps the defender's nuisance value played a part.

Burnley started the second half like a team determined to get its just deserts, and continued in that vein for 50 minutes. Mee blocked a Rodrigo shot after the Spaniard weaved his way through and Bamford shot wide from an Ayling pass but with Leeds struggling to pass the ball on a difficult playing surface, most of the second period was played at their end.

Pablo Hernandez replaced Rodrigo in an attempt to do something about it, but surprisingly his big contribution was from a fast counter-attack, driving deep into Burnley territory after Ezgjan Alioski's acrobatic clearance, only for Pope to turn his shot around the post.

As time went on, the Clarets managed to turn pressure into chances and make Meslier earn his wages.

He made a good save from Barnes just before Jay Rodriguez came on as a third striker, and was fortunate the substitute’s volley from Westwood’s cross was so poor.

Another important near-post save from Barnes followed and there were numerous important toes put in by Leeds defenders at late set pieces. Pope came up for the last couple but when Meslier touched a stoppage-time free-kick over the bar, Alioski hammered the corner away and the Whites claimed a half-beautiful, half-ugly but totally satisfying win.

Leeds United: Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha (Poveda 70), Rodrigo (Hernandez 58), Klich (Shackleton 67), Harrison; Bamford.

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

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Benson (Stephens 74), Westwood, Brownhill, Pieters (Rodriguez 74); Wood, Barnes.

Unused substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Norris, Bardsley, Long, Dunne, Mancini, Mumbongo.

Referee: R Jones (Merseyside).

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.