Leeds lift Championship trophy as jubilant fans celebrate end of 16 years of hurt


THERE were tears of joy and despair at Elland Road as Leeds lifted the Championship title – with Charlton relegated right at the death.

Despite being battered for 90 minutes, Lee Bowyer thought they had done just enough to survive by the skin of their teeth.

Played out to 90 minutes of booming fireworks from jubilant Whites fans outside the ground, Marcelo Bielsa’s heroes turned on the style from the off.

Goals from Ben White, Stuart Dallas, Tyler Roberts and Jamie Shackleton brought the curtain down on an historic season in West Yorkshire.

And right at the end it looked like double delight, with Charlton safe heading into injury time.

But with just seconds to play, news of Barnsley’s late winner at Brentford filtered through to the despondent Charlton bench.

With his head bowed down in despair at the final whistle, what a bitter pill for Bowyer to swallow at his old ground.

Starting the game outside of the bottom three, it was a meek final performance.

😍 WGUAFC! pic.twitter.com/dBhimGEnCS

After play-off joy last summer, the season has been a never-ending struggle for the rookie manager.

Played out to never-ending boardroom chaos, Bowyer’s chances of keeping them up were curtailed when star striker Lyle Taylor refused to play after lockdown.

With two wins on the trot after the return, life was looking rosy – but four defeats in their last seven mean a straight return to League One.

For Leeds, it was fitting that after 16 years in the wilderness their trophy procession came against Charlton.

Back in May 2004 relegation was confirmed against the Addicks in the last Prem game hosted at Elland Road.

The penultimate match of the season, hope was in the air when Jermaine Pennant put them 2-1 up -before a late Jason Euell double sealed their fate.

Ex-Leeds midfielder Bowyer, a Champions League semi-finalist with the Whites in 2001, had left 18 months before.

The writing was on the wall by then, the club also cashing in on Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Keane and Jonathan Woodgate as financial ruin loomed.

And while Charlton arrived scrapping to beat the drop, boss Bowyer did not return to his old stomping ground empty handed.

But having promised Bielsa a congratulatory bottle of Malbec, the generosity did not end there.

Despite the best part of five days on the lash, it took just 13 minutes to show why they are head and shoulders above the rest.

And what a goal it was, Ben White – on loan from Brighton – pinging his first goal for the club into the top corner from 20 yards.

Pablo Hernandez’s corner was nodded to the edge of the box and the centre-back controlled it on his chest before burying a stunning volley beyond Dillon Phillips.

With Leeds motoring on the pitch, the party off it was in full swing.

Ignoring CEO Angus Kinnear’s plea to stay away, hundreds descended by the Billy Bremner statue and itdid not take long for the flares and fireworks to come out.

With music blaring into Elland Road from outside, Dallas doubled the lead after 29 minutes – a goal all about Pablo Hernandez’s sumptuous assist.

Seeing a pass nobody else saw coming, the Spaniard nutmegged his man and laid it on a plate for Dallas to fire home.

Alfie Doughty really should have pulled one back after being set clear, but he somehow missed the target when one-on-one.

Sub Chuks Aneke had a great chance right after the break but his effort was well saved by Illan Meslier.

But before they knew it they were 3-0 down when Leeds replacement Tyler Roberts nodded home Hernandez’s corner on 52 minutes.

And fellow sub Jamie Shackleton made it four 14 minutes later, finishing off a clinical counter.


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