Leeds United snatched a point from the jaws of defeat at Brentford this evening but their promotion hopes took another beating.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men instead stretched their winless streak to three matches with the Yorkshire-based side having now just registered one win across their last seven Championship outings.
As for Brentford, this was another valuable result as they look to cement a play-off berth, that being said The Bees now sit two points of Leeds who currently occupy the final automatic promotion spot.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are tonight’s.
Winner: Saïd Benrahma
Brentford have arguably one of the most exciting front-threes outside England’s top division. The bulk (40) of their 52 goals scored heading into this evening’s game were largely down to Bryan Mbeumo, Ollie Watkins and Saïd Benrahma who broke the deadlock against under-pressure Leeds.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) February 11, 2020
Of the trio, he’s yet to reach double digits (on nine for the Championship season now), but that won’t be long given the form he’s on. A good forward never rests and is always on the move. The 24-year-old Algenrian international correctly anticipated much-maligned Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, as the Peacocks were trying to play out from the back, would make another error.
Loser: Kiko Casilla
It’s been a shocking few days for Kiko Casilla who for the 11th consecutive league game fails to keep a clean sheet. His last shutout came in Leeds’ win at Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town in early December, that was part of four straight games without conceding a goal, whether it’s psychological the Spainard has simply lost his confidence.
The opening goal he let in against Nottingham Forest over the weekend should go down as a bad misjudgement, but tonight he can have no excuses, this was him losing concentration at the worst time. Having received possession from his defender, Casilla’s eyes were seemingly elsewhere as Benrahma pounced to inflict more pain on him.
Winner: Liam Cooper
🙌 Harrison whips in a corner, and Cooper is at the back post! 1-1 pic.twitter.com/G8CBNW3JTu
— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 11, 2020
Set-pieces are rightfully seen as being very crucial and Liam Cooper couldn’t have popped up at a more opportune time to register his first league goal of this season and first in the Championship since October 2018. Brentford’s lead only lasted 13 minutes when Cooper, reacting to lackadaisical goalkeeping on David Martin’s part, slotted home the equaliser.
Near ever-present this season, including playing the last ten league games on the bounce, Cooper’s effort saw Bielsa’s men score their first goal since Patrick Bamford’s header in their stunning comeback win against Millwall last month. It was a moment they needed as their promotion hopes looked to be slipping away.
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Loser: Patrick Bamford
Speaking of Bamford, it was another forgettable evening for Leeds’ top marksman. His performance at Forest was below the standard he’s set for himself and so was tonight’s game. Once again the contest seemed to pass him by, the former Chelsea youngster was seldom in possession, across 90 minutes Bamford would touch the ball on 23 occasions, the fewest of any that started the match.
His showings in the first half of this campaign, 10 goals across 23 games, laid the foundation to him being the club’s leading goalscorer, but he needs to rediscover that form and fast. Heading into this weekend’s game against Bristol City it will be 261 minutes since his last Championship goal, the aforementioned effort to stun Millwall in late January.
Fulham know a win at Millwall on Wednesday evening will see them leapfrog Leeds into the final automatic promotion spot. It’s a crazy thought considering where both teams were just a few months ago. After beating Hull 2-0 at home in early December, both teams were separated by 11 points as Leeds sat atop of the Championship table, fast-forward to now and the Londonders have eaten 10 points into that gap and have a game in hand.
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) February 9, 2020
Scott Parker’s men have had to hustle. Unbeaten in their last five league games, winning all but one, momentum is definitely on their side. But there’s no chance of them resting on their laurels as they seek an immediate return to Premier League football with some interesting games coming up including visits to leaders West Brom, Leeds and fellow promotion chasers Forest.
Loser: Marcelo Bielsa
The buck stops with the manager and there’s a sense of déjà vu creeping into this campaign. Leeds looked certain to end a 15-year wait to play in the Premier League last season, but they spectacularly hit a brick wall, after missing out on automatically going up they were humbled by Derby County in the play-offs.
As touched upon it wasn’t long ago they held a healthy lead over third-place Fulham, but now after collecting five points across their last six Championship games they are in danger of another implosion, of course with 14 remaining matches there’s every chance of turning it around but dropping points can become a difficult habit to shake off.