Leeds United’s Tyler Roberts stakes claim after sinking Hull City

Leeds United hinted they may have found solutions to problems at both ends of the pitch at Hull City but Tigers coach Grant McCann will look for new answers to end his side’s dismal downturn.
On target: Substitute Tyler Roberts celebrates his first goal. Picture: Tony JohnsonOn target: Substitute Tyler Roberts celebrates his first goal. Picture: Tony Johnson
On target: Substitute Tyler Roberts celebrates his first goal. Picture: Tony Johnson

The Whites’ fourth consecutive win was their joint biggest this season, sweeping Hull aside 4-0.

A fourth straight clean sheet was important because it came without goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, whose ever-present record in the Championship was ended by an eight-match ban for alleged racist language handed down on Friday evening. His deputy, 19-year-old Illan Meslier, on a season-long loan from Lorient, made an assured league debut.

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At the other end, Tyler Roberts doubled his goals tally for the club after coming off the bench to replace Patrick Bamford, who has only scored in one game since Christmas.

“Clearly, he is an option,” said Bielsa of Roberts. “When a striker scores, of course it has a high value.”

Injuries have made it hard for the Wales international to make an impact since joining from West Bromwich Albion in January, 2018 so he was delighted to take his chance and with Jean-Kevin Augustin injured, it was important. Roberts finished a fine 81st-minute counter-attack, then headed in Mateusz Klich’s cross three minutes later to make the scoreline better reflect Leeds’s second-half dominance.

“I was eager to get on the pitch and coming on as a No 9 I just wanted to get in as many areas as I could to try and get goals,” he said.

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“I don’t score many left-footed goals so to get it in the back of the net was a great feeling.

“We have played football like that all season and scored goals like that but it’s great to be at the end of it and finish it off.”

Bielsa and Roberts spoke of Meslier’s willingness to take risks on a day when Hull barely tested him. “He’s definitely got the ability so it will be good for him to show it,” said Roberts.
“He is trying what the manager wants him to try, he’s not backing out of things, he’s being confident and he’s commanding.”

Bielsa spoke glowingly of Casilla’s human qualities, as the Spaniard continues to deny making a racist comment to Jonathan Leko in September’s game at Charlton.

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“Kiko is a great human being and a situation like this can affect people but I think he’s strong,” said his coach. “I also saw a lot of behaviour from him supporting people who are not included in society. All of us are against racism, he is the first in that.”

Hull are four points above the relegation zone, having lost nine of their last 11 games.

“We need to see more – more energy, more reactions, more tempo in our play and taking more risks,” said McCann.

“I’ve been a player, I know what it’s like when you lose games, you start doubting everything, yourself, your own performance and where can I find this and that, but you need to find it. When we do that, we’ll get better.

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“We know exactly what we have to do but it’s easy talking about it, you’ve got to deliver on the football pitch and that’s where we’re coming a wee bit unstuck.

“If you feel sorry for yourself, come and tell me and you can get yourself back home or play in the Under-23s. That’s not going to be the issue with this group.

“The boys looked a bit knackered, in the second half they looked short. When pressure’s on you and your confidence is low, that can affect you, how you run, how you look on the pitch, your body language, everything.

“We need to think of a different way this week and we will. We’ve got something planned for the boys and we’ll see if that brings them back a bit. I’ll keep it to myself.”

Hull’s next game is at home on Saturday to Stoke City, who can overtake them with a victory.

“It’s a massive test,” said defender Sean McLoughlin. “We have to get back into form and pick up points.”