It was an entertaining first 45 minutes between Middlesbrough and Leeds United yesterday at The Riverside. Industry and endeavour were los platos d’el dia up on Teesside.
It was the home side Middlesbrough who were eating from the top table first, the aptly named Lewis Wing scoring after a quickfire attack early in the second period. It was a disappointing way to concede, United’s defensive frailties exposed with Pablo Hernandez failing to track back in time.
Hernandez had come on as a half-time substitute for youngster Jack Clarke, who unfortunately had to be taken to hospital after falling ill in the dugout. Yet, the tracking back was the only bad thing that Hernandez seemed to do in a half where he simply shone.
Carry some doubt over a possible niggle, Leeds United fans seemed a little worried that their Spanish magician wouldn’t be sprinkling some of his magic dust over The Riverside’s pitch.
Yet, as Phil Hay said, there was a sense of magisterial brilliance about Pablo Hernandez.
Hernandez did a brilliant job of directing that late on – took risks with long range passes and picked them out beautifully. Leeds go a point clear at the top. Norwich play Ipswich tomorrow. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 9, 2019
Here’s how Hernandez’s second half shaped up against Middlesbrough.
Hernandez vs Middlesbrough – the little magician sparks magic
- touches: 72
- passes/final-third passes: 66/41
- key passes: 2
- crosses: 7
- passing accuracy: 81%
- possession: 8.3%
That last figure alone is more than extraordinary. To put it into context, Hernandez saw 8.3% of Leeds United’s total possession in only a half of football. To show this even more starkly, only Liam Cooper (9%) saw more possession than Hernandez did in the game.
Pablo had more possession in 45 minutes than did Middlesbrough’s starting front three of Jordan Hughill, Jonny Howson and Lewis Wing (combined 7.9%) and only just trailed this trio and all of Boro’s three substitutes (combined 9.7%) by just 1.4% less possession.
Looking at things this starkly, it in plain as day to see that Pablo Hernandez was that conduit through which flowed all of Leeds United’s good play and energy in the second-half.
Stats courtesy of WhoScored – full game output can be viewed here