Two goals from Pablo Hernandez and one by Mateusz Klich helped Leeds United to go back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship for 24 hours at least as the Whites won 3-0 at Reading.
The win was never in doubt once Polish international Klich had fired United ahead in the 14th minute and the only disappointment was that they did not win by at least six to have massively boosted the goal difference as a number of chances went begging.
Marcelo Bielsa named the same starting team as in Saturday’s win at Bristol City and the teamwork was evident early as Leeds went ahead with their first chance.
Luke Ayling was played in down the right and from his low pull back Patrick Bamford cleverly dummied to give Klich a chance to calmly shoot into the net.
Reading had made a decent start with Andy Yiadom producing a good turn in the box to get a shot away that forced Kiko Casilla into a save.
Yakou Meite produced a dangerous low cross as the hosts looked to hit back after letting in the goal, but Casilla was down well to save. From then on, however, it was all Leeds in the first half.
Ezgjan Alioski should have done better with a volley he sent over after being picked out in space in the area.
But two minutes later Hernandez found the net via the post with a crisp strike after he cleverly made space for himself on the edge of the box.
United swarmed forward again and Klich’s low shot was inches wide then Bamford’s shot from the edge of the area was saved low down.
It was 3-0 just before half-time when Bamford did well in the build-up to find Hernandez and the Spaniard topped his earlier effort with a stunning strike that gave keeper Emiliano Martinez little chance.
It was his tenth goal of the season and effectively it killed the contest.
Leeds kept their opponents at arm’s length after the break, although Yiadom had a good chance for the hosts with a free header only to see his effort saved by Casilla.
Once again this brief threat was the cue for United to up a gear once more and four chances in 10 minutes should have left Reading well and truly buried.
Tyler Roberts’s shot was easily saved after more good work by Bamford then it was Bamford’s turn to miss his opportunities set up by others.
First, he was put clean through, but his right foot shot was so poor it went out for a throw-in. Then he miskicked when well placed in the box. The ball fell nicely for Hernandez, but he fired inches wide.
A third chance in three minutes saw Bamford through only for his better struck angled shot to send the ball agonisingly wide.
Another golden opportunity went begging late on as Jack Harrison’s fine run into the box led to his shot being beaten away by Martinez straight to Hernandez who blazed the rebound over to miss the easiest chance he had all night.
All the misses could come back to haunt the Whites if their promotion campaign all comes down to goal difference, but a third straight win - and clean sheet - kept their challenge going strongly and this was another one knocked off as they bid for a top two finish.
Leeds United 3
(Klich 14, Hernandez 22, 44)
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Sky Bet Championship
Reading: Martinez, Yiadom, Miazga, Moore, Blackett, Baker, East (Harriott 63), Meite, Swift, Barrow (Olise 69), Loader (McCleary 81)
Leeds: Casilla, Ayling (Dallas 56), Jansson, Cooper, Alioski, Phillips, Hernandez, Klich (Douglas 74), Roberts (Shackleton 69), Harrison, Bamford.
Referee: Gavin Ward.