All my friends kept saying to me over the week it will take a miracle for Leeds United to stay up. Would Burnley FC want to win more than Newcastle FC? Can Leeds beat an in form Brentford FC. In the end I saw a miracle. Leeds could not influence the Burnley result but did what they needed to do – beat Brentford FC. Newcastle FC held their nerve. Leeds United get to spend a third season in the Premier League.
This was a time when we could only influence – not control – our future with our destiny partly in the hands of other teams, namely Burnley FC and Newcastle FC. Going into the match I was resigned to the reality that Leeds United needed a miracle to stay up and the Championship was our outcome from a whole season we had to avoid relegation.
Marsch decided to take a chance with both Gelhardt and Greenwood starting. Cooper was brought back but no Bamford.
What did we need to do today to win at Brentford FC? We needed a fully fit Philips, and a Firpo not collecting his usual yellow card – he still managed a careless challenge early on.
We needed Raphinha’s crosses and corners to be reaching right into the penalty box. We needed Rodrigo to be sharp on the ball and on target with the goal. We needed the whole team to be keeping the ball – but nerves but nerves put a stop to that.
We needed Cooper commanding the defence. And finally, the two youngsters creating havoc in the Brentford defence – Greenwood had an early shot on goal and Gelhardt had a disallowed goal on twenty minutes as he was just offside.
Leeds United started nervously and Brentford looked for the counter attack. Leeds United looked to press but their passing let them down from creating opportunities.
After that early pressure Brentford FC grew into the match. Jenson gave Brentford FC hope as Firpo is nutmegged and Meslier tips a dangerous lob over the bar Leeds defence is dreadful with the ball being given away – Marsch is unimpressed kicking his own bucket.
Brentford FC ended the first half the stronger team. Leeds defending was a risk and we didn’t look like scoring.
Leeds started the second half with a shaky defence again leading to Brentford given a scoring opportunity. But after being chopped down in the penalty box Raphinha, with nerves of steel stepped up to the penalty spot, with a pause, dinked it into the right hand corner. Leeds were ahead Phliips gave Raphinha a hug for saving Leeds.
Brentford not lost at home since February so this was momentus. Leeds fans making the noise as Burnley conceded a second goal. Brentford then looked to mix things up with a couple of substitutions – Leeds were on the back foot and Burnley get one back.
On 70 minutes Brentford used their last sub and Struijk replaced Gelhardt to strengthen the defence. Another piece of paper made its way from Marsch to Cooper. But then Brentford had an injury were down to ten men for the last 15 mintues.
But the Brentford FC sub Canos spoilt the party with a late goal. It was going to be a nervous ten minutes – if Burnley FC scored and Leeds united didn’t, then we were relagated.
But then Canos got himself sent off for a cynical foul on Raphinha and Brentford down to nine men. Marsch then brought Klich on for Greenwood and we were down to 5 minutes of extra time. Time that dragged on very slowly as everyone checked their phones for what was happening at Burnley.
Leeds began to dominate possession. Harrison had a shot on goal which took a deflection for a Leeds corner. The corner was kicked out which Harrison collected outside the box with a straight shot into the corner of the Brentford net.
There was mayhem. Leeds players ran over to the corner where the their fans were and all team joined them. Marsch collapsed to the ground in disbelief. Burnley match had ended and Leeds are staying up.
After the restart there was one minute of football which no one noticed, the referee blew the whistle and the Leeds players celebrated in a way that was one of over whelming relief. The players hug each other, Marsch and Radrizzani. Raphinha joins the fans in the stands. The players throw their shirts into the crowd – one player has his pants on only.
I am on my knees with joy – we have managed against the odds to stay up in the premier league. We did it the hard way. We did it our way by scoring as late as possible. We spent most of the season heading towards relegation, with too many injuries, conceding goals and accumulating yellow cards.
Marsch, in his interview, talked about the team digging deep since he joined, finding winners and draws. He accepted it was hard to concentrate for 90 minutes. Radirizzani sent out a message talking about a “painful season for everyone”, and that bringing Marsch is was “unplanned”. At least he admits this was “not success and improvements are needed.”
There was a moment whilst we anxiously waited to see if Burnley scored a Leeds fan looked up to the heavens and prayed – he was rewarded with a miracle.
Man of the Match: Raphinha