Leeds United ended Aston Villa’s winning start and ruined their chance of going top of the Premier League thanks to a brilliant Patrick Bamford hat-trick.
Villa came into Friday’s game having won their first four games of a league campaign for the first time since 1930-31, but three expert finishes from the Leeds striker prevented the hosts making it a club record five victories on the spin to open their season.
The result lifts Leeds to third – their highest position at the end of a day in the division since September 2002.
It was reward for a relentlessly positive performance from an injury-hit visiting side that should probably have yielded more goals.
In the first-half, Bamford missed with a header and then side-footed wide after being found by Jack Harrison’s low cross at the end of swift counter-attacking move.
Leeds’ record signing Rodrigo was also guilty of spurning good opportunities, slicing one shot wide before seeing an effort blocked by Ezri Konsa.
Dean Smith’s Villa team, who had put seven goals past champions Liverpool in their previous home game, saw a Jack Grealish shot cleared off the line by Luke Ayling after the ball had fallen to the midfielder from Trezeguet’s miscued shot.
Villa’s captain also went close with a saved effort from close range after he had shown great tenacity and skill to carry the ball from within his own half.
But Bamford had the decisive say, finding the corner of the net from just a few yards out after Emiliano Martinez had palmed out Rodrigo’s low shot.
If his first was simple, his second and third were stunning – a rising effort into the top corner from 20 yards after he was found by Mateusz Klich on 67 minutes and a dug out, curling finish following Helder Costa’s low ball seven minutes later.
Leeds are now two points and a place behind Villa, who remain second, a point behind leaders Everton.
Bielsa happy for ‘noble and generous’ Bamford
Leeds maybe have not been as spectacular as Villa in the early stages of 2020-21, but they are certainly making their mark on a top flight that had been without them for 16 years.
There were plenty of times during that period when little was missing in their absence, but now – with Marcelo Bielsa in charge – the pleasure is all the Premier League’s.
Leeds have already shown they are unwilling to be daunted and compromise their attacking principles, even when facing the elite sides.
And at Villa Park, with influential midfielder Kalvin Phillips and captain Liam Cooper missing through injury and a makeshift defence in place, they took apart the division’s form team on their own patch.
Under Bielsa, Leeds create chances but they have not always had the cutting edge to make them count, with Bamford too often frustratingly profligate.
Premier League life with Leeds clearly suits the English striker, though, and Friday’s hat-trick took him to six goals in six matches this term. His treble is also the sixth in the top flight already in 2020-21 – after 49 games, it is the earliest that has happened.
Leeds themselves have now scored 12 league goals, the most by a newly promoted club after six games of a season in the competition since Middlesbrough also netted 12 in 1992-93.
Villa suffer first setback
It is perhaps in-keeping with what has been a chaotic Premier League season so far that Villa, yet to drop points and whose last appearance on their own ground saw them put seven past Liverpool, would be put to the sword by newly promoted Leeds.
But still it defied all expectation. Villa were second best throughout, unable to compete with the visitors’ intensity and energy.
Even Grealish, who has impressed so much, was unable to inspire his side, although he did have moments – not least of all with the solo run that almost brought an opener for the hosts early in the second half.
Bamford’s first goal was a big blow, his second sent Villa to canvas and the third knocked them out.
It was a bad night at the office, but Smith’s side remain a work in progress – and while he is unlikely to be pleased after defeat, one poor showing in five is a percentage he will surely take.
The key now will be whether Villa can respond to such a ruthless ending to one eight-game unbeaten streak by building another.
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith, speaking to Match of the Day: “Very frustrated, especially with the last 40 minutes. I thought the first half was very even. They scored the first goal and we got worse and they were very good. We probably got away with a 3-0 in the end with the chances they had.
“Who knows what would have happened if we had scored? That is the first time we have been behind in a game and we didn’t handle it very well.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, speaking to Match of the Day: “It was an important game for us and a deserved triumph. We scored first and were a little bit lucky they didn’t score some of the chances they had. We were playing well even before the goal and had played well enough to go ahead.”
On striker Patrick Bamford, Bielsa added: “Very happy for Patrick because he scored some wonderful goals. Apart from that [he is] a noble player who sacrifices a lot for the team – generous also. I think his development is more to do with him and less to do with me.”