Leeds United 3-1 West Bromwich Albion
A year ago these clubs were vying for promotion – both ultimately gained reward but now one has soared to seal a top-10 top-flight finish, while the other is returning to the championship emphasising what a difference a year makes.
On the final afternoon of the Premier League season, this was a perfect example of the differing fortunes Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion have experienced.
Already guaranteed a top 10 finish after victory at Southampton in midweek, SBOTOP-sponsored Leeds delivered more Premier League highlights in front of their 8,000 delighted fans – back inside Elland Road to watch top flight football for the first time in 17 years.
Relegated a few weeks ago, West Brom were less fortunate and bowed out easily, despite glimpses of real talent under Sam Allardyce, most notably at Champions League finalists Chelsea last month.
Highlights of the game
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa handed starts to Domenico Berardi and Pablo Hernandez as both players made their final appearance for the club with star striker Patrick Bamford named on the bench.
Meanwhile, Allardyce also opted for two changes in his final game as West Brom boss.
With Matheus Pereira absent from the squad and Hal Robson-Kanu dropping to the bench, Dara O’Shea and Callum Robinson were handed starting berths.
The hosts did not have to wait long to celebrate and had already seen a Jack Harrison strike ruled out for offside before the deadlock was broken in the 17th minute.
Raphinha, arguably one of the signings of the season, delivered a pinpoint corner and there was club-record signing Rodrigo (whose debut on the opening day of the campaign resulted in him conceding a late penalty) to head home the opener.
Kalvin Phillips doubled that advantage three minutes before the break with a curling free-kick for his first top-flight goal, although the sight of him picking up a shoulder injury late on in the contest was a worry as the youngster has an outside chance of being named in England’s Euro 2020 squad.
By then, Leeds had gone 3-0 up as sub Bamford added his side’s third from the penalty spot following a handball by Okay Yokuslu,
West Brom, who have drawn at champions Manchester City and Liverpool and won at Chelsea this term, as well as holding Man Utd at home, have shown glimpses of quality and had Callum Robinson’s effort found the net instead of strike the post early in the second period, they may have found their way back into this encounter.
In the end, though, the Premier League betting odds were always stacked against them, despite good managers in Slaven Bilic and then Allardyce.
Their only crumb of comfort came late on when Robson-Kanu grabbed a late consolation as the match entered stoppage time.
A yo-yo club for some time, with the right appointment the Baggies still have the foundations to build again.
For Leeds, a club which has struggled on and off the pitch for much of the first two decades of this millennium, this was a perfect way to round off a fine campaign – one in which they supposed to struggle; one in which Bielsa’s style would, supposedly, cause his players to tire.
Yet they won their final four games of the season, scoring 12 and conceding just twice.
It has been quite a story!
Leeds have only lost one of their past 11 league fixtures, winning seven and drawing three.
This was the first time since 2002 they have earned four consecutive Premier League victories.
Their tally of 62 Premier League goals is a record for a promoted club in a 38-game season.
The Yorkshire club have amassed the most points by a promoted side since Ipswich Town in 2000-01.
Bamford’s 17 Premier League goals this season is the most by a player from a promoted club since Charlie Austin’s 18 for Queens Park Rangers in 2014-15.
Only Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes scored more goals in the 2020-21 Premier League than Bamford.
This match also marked Raphinha’s ninth Premier League assist for Leeds, the first player to do so in a top-flight season for the club since both Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (13) and Harry Kewell (nine) in 1998-99.
West Brom have lost four league games in a row for the first time since March 2018.
Albion haven’t won their final league game in any of the past 13 seasons, drawing six and losing seven.
This was the first time in his managerial career that Allardyce has lost at Elland Road.
That is it. Both sides will begin new seasons in August with Leeds looking to build on this campaign and the Baggies keen to bounce back at the first time of asking.
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