Reading 0 Leeds United 1: Commanding display, hails Marcelo Bielsa as Whites go top of Championship

Jack Harrison scores Leeds United's winner. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Jack Harrison scores Leeds United's winner. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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Marcelo Bielsa believes his Leeds United side deserved their late winner at Reading which sent them top of the Championship

Reading created the best opening in a low-key first half from a Yakou Meite header but the visitors improved after the interval and Stuart Dallas hit the crossbar.

Jack Harrison applauds the fans at full time.

Jack Harrison applauds the fans at full time.

And they snatched the winner three minutes from time when Jack Harrison nodded home Helder Costa’s deflected cross.

A second late winner in four days earned Marcelo Bielsa’s men a fourth straight win, with three of them coming by one goal.

“It was a tight match,” Bielsa said.

“It was difficult for us to create danger in the first half. In the second half we attacked a little bit more. We did enough to deserve the win.

“Even if it was a tight match, we commanded it.”

Leeds may not have been at their creative best in the final third but they kept an albeit less-than-adventurous Reading side quiet for long periods and Bielsa was pleased with the defensive display.

“They have good players with impact and they are able to create danger even if they aren’t able to command the match,” he said. “We have defended well. It was a very demanding match and defensively we were confident.”

Leeds began positively at the Madejski Stadium, with six-goal top scorer Patrick Bamford off target with a clever volleyed flick in the opening minute.

Reading forced the first real chance when Meite broke swiftly after a Leeds corner had been cleared and spotted George Puscas running into the area but his low cross was narrowly missed by the Romania forward.

Leeds gradually gained control, mostly through the midfield promptings of Dallas and Mateusz Klich.

But Bamford was struggling to find space up front and was largely kept quiet by the solid home rearguard. Reading relied heavily on the counter-attack. The clearest chance of the first half fell to Meite shortly before the break, when he headed powerfully goalwards from a John Swift corner, but Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was well positioned and gathered the ball right on the goalline.

Leeds improved after the break and were soon applying constant pressure.

But it was Reading who created the first opportunity. Keeper Rafael Cabral’s huge punt forward was collected by Meite but his final shot was poor and never troubled Casilla.

Leeds responded from a Kalvin Phillips corner, with captain Liam Cooper rising above the mass of bodies in the area, but he was unable to direct his header and it drifted harmlessly wide.

Dallas saw his fierce long-range effort cannon off the bar before seeing his volley go straight into Rafael’s arms from an Ezgjan Alioski cross.

But Leeds were not to be denied, with Harrison nodding in Costa’s far-post centre after a fast break.

Reading: Rafael Cabral, Gunter, Miazga, Morrison, Moore, Richards, Swift, Rinomhota (McCleary 90), Ejaria, Meite (Loader 86), Puscas (Boye 70). Unused substitutes: Walker, Howe, Blackett, Pele.

Leeds: Casilla, Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Klich (Alioski 66), Hernandez, Roberts (Helder Costa 35), Harrison (Shackleton 90), Bamford. Unused substitutes: Meslier, Douglas, Berardi, Clarke.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).