Just before Patrick Bamford converted an excellent through ball to put the Leeds ahead against Wigan yesterday, the Whites had a penalty after a Cedric Kipre ‘handball’.
The award itself looked rather fortuitous, the ball seeming to hit the Wigan defender in the midriff on the line, so preventing a stonewall goal. The referee’s decision made, up steps Pablo Hernandez for what are usually routine goals.
However, Pablo’s attempt was a.) too weakly struck and b.) at too easy a height for Wigan keeper Christian Walton and it was a goal missed rather than scored for the Spaniard.
Leeds scored pretty much straight afterwards through Patrick Bamford, before going on to lose the game 2-1 to a Latic’s side without an away win since August 2018. Hernandez’s missed penalty could have put a different complexion on the game.
Hernandez and Bamford have BOTH missed penalties this season, penalties being as rare as hen’s teeth for Leeds United. Despite this gloom and doom, there is a glimmer of hope should the Whites need it and it is provided by a player reborn under Marcello Bielsa.
That player is Mateusz Klich. Klich was a player many had thought had played his last game for the Whites last season with him being shipped out on loan back to the Eredivisie with FC Utrecht. His time there, 14 games (one goal/three assists) contrasted massively with his time at Elland Road that amounted to just five Championship appearances totalling 135 minutes.
This season though, Klich has been reborn and has risen like Lazarus in Bielsa’s revamped Leeds United side; eight goals and eight assists are testament to that. Yet, to find the true value of what Klich could be to Leeds United’s penalty situation, we need to look back to his 2016/17 season with FC Twente.
Here he scored six goals and provided four assists. Big deal, I can almost hear some Leeds United fans thinking that aloud. However, ALL those six goals were penalties, every single one of them!
It’s strange that he hasn’t taken a penalty in normal league play for the Whites. Indeed, his only penalty for Leeds was in the penalty shootout against Burnley in the cup – and he destroyed the Clarets stopper with his attempt.
So, if there is any doubt about the efficacy of Leeds United’s penalty takers, I nominate Mateusz Klich to step forward into the breech. I mean, he’s scoring from 20 yards and 30 yards – 12 yards would be almost a tap-in for the in-form Pole.