Championship
LeedsLeeds United5StokeStoke City0
By Matt NewsumBBC Sport
Pablo Hernandez scores for Leeds
Pablo Hernandez came on as a half-time substitute to score Leeds' fourth goal against Stoke

Leeds United moved a step closer to ending their 16-year Premier League absence, as a thumping 5-0 win over struggling Stoke City sent them back to the top of the Championship.

Goals either side of half-time set the platform, as Mateusz Klich stroked in from the penalty spot at the end of a dominant first period before Helder Costa celebrated his permanent deal with a second just after the break to finish off a slick move.

Liam Cooper slammed in the third from inside the box shortly after as Leeds took control, and Pablo Hernandez's wonderfully precise effort from the edge of the area ended any Stoke hopes.

Patrick Bamford swiped in the fifth off both posts in added time to deliver a win that moved Leeds above West Brom and established a six-point gap on in-form Brentford in third, with four games left to play.

It was a chastening evening for Michael O'Neill's Stoke, who saw spirited defensive work undone when Tommy Smith lunged in on Costa to give away the spot-kick, and they failed to mount a meaningful challenge to the hosts throughout.

While Leeds fans can look forward to league visits to Anfield and Old Trafford next season if they earn a maximum of seven more points, Stoke must contemplate the possibility of exiting the Championship at the other end of the table, as they sit just a point and a place above the relegation zone.

Determination to see out the job from Leeds

Helder Costa scores for Leeds
Winger Helder Costa scored his first goal of 2020 in Leeds' 5-0 win over Stoke, two days after completing his £16m permanent move from Wolves

Marcelo Bielsa's side slumped to defeats by struggling Wigan and Ipswich within a four-game winless run at the end of last season as their campaign unravelled, but this performance showed a determination not to allow this year's promotion bid to fade away.

Defeat by Cardiff and a draw with lowly Luton showed chinks in Leeds' armour since the restart of the season following the coronavirus pandemic, but doubts about their character were shrugged off in a performance of patience to obtain the lead and then ruthlessness to build on it.

Stoke set up to contain with a solid back five but Leeds' relentless forward thrusts still opened up chances; Bamford had his clipped effort cleared off the line and Tyler Roberts' follow-up was bravely blocked by Danny Batth.

Smith's wild lunge on Costa handed Leeds a chance from the spot which Klich converted with ice-cold precision and Leeds moved up a gear after the restart as Costa caught the defence napping to slot home.

They were unlucky not to be completely out of sight as Bamford hit the bar and forced a smart near-post save from Jack Butland, while Kalvin Phillips fizzed a shot over from 18 yards.

Cooper's third before the hour mark was definitive, smashing in off the post after Hernandez crept in behind the Stoke defence, and the provider turned scorer to sidefoot the killer fourth as Bielsa's Whites turned on the style.

The visitors had a couple of chances for a consolation as Leeds loosened their grip with the game won, in particular James McClean firing over the top before Bamford crowned the hosts' performance, adding a fifth with the final kick of the game.

What's next?

Leeds travel to play-off hopefuls Swansea on Sunday, and also face Derby in their final four games as well as Stoke's relegation rivals Barnsley and Charlton.

The Potters have a tricky final quartet of matches as they take on promotion hopefuls Brentford and Nottingham Forest, and face a trip to Bristol City following Sunday's visit of fellow strugglers Birmingham City.

Post-match reaction

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa:

"Every match is a new story. What happened in the previous game is not definitive for the next one. Safety and confidence are not linked 100% with the previous result.

"It was a positive performance. The manager always values a positive impact.

"Being able to score at the end of the first half was very important. In the second half our early goal made it much easier for us, but in any case it was an exaggerated result."

Stoke boss Michael O'Neill:

"I'd be very surprised if they don't go up. They're the best team we've played. We couldn't deal with them physically.

"(Bielsa) has done an amazing job. Two years of work here and you can see that in the team.

"They're hungry players. That's key and we are a long, long way from where they are. It will take time to change that.

"Tonight you saw the difference between a team at the top and one which for two seasons has been at the bottom end of the table, a long way off where they need to be.

"We gave a decent account in the first half, but you can't give them a leg up, which we did with the penalty. Once behind, it was always tough."

Line-ups

Leeds

  • 1Meslier
  • 2Ayling
  • 5WhiteBooked at 4mins
  • 6CooperSubstituted forBerardiat 84'minutes
  • 15DallasBooked at 50minsSubstituted forDouglasat 75'minutes
  • 23Phillips
  • 17Hélder Costa
  • 11RobertsSubstituted forHernándezat 45'minutes
  • 43KlichSubstituted forShackletonat 78'minutes
  • 22HarrisonSubstituted forAlioskiat 78'minutes
  • 9Bamford

Substitutes

  • 3Douglas
  • 7Poveda-Ocampo
  • 10Alioski
  • 19Hernández
  • 28Berardi
  • 30Miazek
  • 34Struijk
  • 46Shackleton
  • 48Stevens

Stoke

  • 1Butland
  • 14Smith
  • 37CollinsSubstituted forChesterat 45'minutes
  • 6Batth
  • 15Martins IndiBooked at 59mins
  • 11McClean
  • 26CampbellSubstituted forGregoryat 61'minutes
  • 24CousinsBooked at 60mins
  • 22ClucasSubstituted forThompsonat 82'minutes
  • 25PowellSubstituted forSørensenat 75'minutes
  • 9VokesSubstituted forDioufat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Ward
  • 5Lindsay
  • 7Ince
  • 12Chester
  • 16Davies
  • 18Diouf
  • 19Gregory
  • 33Sørensen
  • 34Thompson
Referee:
Darren Bond

Match Stats

Home TeamLeedsAway TeamStoke
Possession
Home71%
Away29%
Shots
Home19
Away5
Shots on Target
Home11
Away0
Corners
Home7
Away3
Fouls
Home8
Away8

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Leeds United 5, Stoke City 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Leeds United 5, Stoke City 0.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Leeds United 5, Stoke City 0. Patrick Bamford (Leeds United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Luke Ayling.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. James McClean (Stoke City) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Tommy Smith.

  5. Post update

    Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Lee Gregory (Stoke City).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Leeds United. Gaetano Berardi replaces Liam Cooper.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Jamie Shackleton (Leeds United).

  9. Post update

    Lasse Sørensen (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by James Chester.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Stoke City. Jordan Thompson replaces Sam Clucas.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Leeds United. Ezgjan Alioski replaces Jack Harrison.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Leeds United. Jamie Shackleton replaces Mateusz Klich.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Bruno Martins Indi.

  15. Post update

    Offside, Leeds United. Pablo Hernández tries a through ball, but Mateusz Klich is caught offside.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Stoke City. Lasse Sørensen replaces Nick Powell.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Leeds United. Barry Douglas replaces Stuart Dallas.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Lee Gregory (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Mame Biram Diouf with a cross.

  19. Goal!

    Goal! Leeds United 4, Stoke City 0. Pablo Hernández (Leeds United) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Hélder Costa.

  20. Post update

    Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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