After a long, long wait, Leeds United finally ended their London hoodoo with a 2-1 victory over Fulham in the Premier League on Friday night.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side had a wretched record in the capital heading into the clash at the capital, having lost 13 of their past 14 games there in all competitions.
However, goals from Patrick Bamford and Raphinha were enough to ensure the trip back north was a far more positive one this time around, with the Whites now heading into the international break in much better spirits.
One man who arguably outshone Bamford, though, was Diego Llorente.
After missing a large part of the season through injury, the £18m-rated Spain international is finally beginning to show why Leeds brought him in last summer, with the centre-back now having played the full 90 minutes in the past five games in the top flight.
His performance against the Cottagers on Friday was one of his best, completely dominating Fulham’s front men and once again showing why he appears to be a perfect, ball-playing centre-back for Bielsa.
As per Sofascore, Llorente completed 88% of his passes on the night, which was by far the highest of any starter for Leeds, and found a team-mate with four out of his six attempted long balls.
That extra bit of composure in bringing the ball out of defence shone through for the Whites, while he also stuck to his task defensively. Only Gjanni Alioski won more than his seven duels, while his tally of four tackles was the second-highest of any Leeds player (Sofascore).
Writing in his post-match player ratings, Leeds Live’s Beren Cross gave the Spaniard a seven, saying: “Took Josh Maja out of the game and forced him off at the break. Aleksandar Mitrovic was similarly impotent. Reading the game so well and acting on it. Assertive in breaking out from the backline too.”
In a post-game tweet, the BBC’s Adam Pope raved about Leeds’ display and hailed Llorente in particular as being “imperious“.
While Bamford may have been involved in both goals, the 27-year-old’s calmness at the back was vital to ensuring that Fulham barely laid a glove on Leeds – even with the scoreline remaining so close at 2-1, Scott Parker’s side only managed two shots on target in the entire second half despite trying to chase an equaliser.
Llorente’s return to fitness has been a welcome boost for Bielsa, and his performances in recent weeks must surely have Leeds fans nodding in approval too.