Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa insisted Patrick Bamford deserves all the plaudits he receives after his hat-trick humbled Aston Villa on Friday night.
The 27-year-old’s second-half treble saw the striker become only the second player to score in each of Leeds’s opening three away games in a top-flight league season, after Gordon Hodgson in 1937-38.
It took his tally to six Premier League goals in as many games for the season as Bielsa’s team continued their impressive return to the top division with a 3-0 success.
👌 Matchball! How much do you love this man right now? pic.twitter.com/LDA8wt6b8g
— Leeds United (@LUFC) October 23, 2020
Previously Bamford had only managed one goal in 27 appearances in the Premier League, although a large proportion of those were as a substitute.
Bielsa said: “We haven’t been dong anything different with him, he’s been doing exactly the same things and he has always been doing, the only difference is now he is converting the chances.
“Everything that Bamford gets, he gets because he deserves it. From my point of view, he is a player with a lot of qualities and creates a lot of danger. If he continues to improve his efficiency then he will receive even greater plaudits.
“I am very happy for him, he deserves it. We have made no changes, no significant changes, it is just now that he is being more efficient.”
Only 5️⃣ away players have scored a #PL hat-trick at Villa Park
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 23, 2020
Bielsa made a change after only 21 minutes at Villa Park, replacing Pascal Struijk with Jamie Shackleton.
The Argentinian admitted he took off Struijk – who had already received a yellow card in the 10th minute – before he got sent off, before going on to praise 21-year-old Shackleton’s contribution.
“Yes he picked up a yellow card early on and had another foul which was a dangerous one, and they (Villa) had a lot of mobility in the midfield and were very dynamic. It was very easy for anyone to make a challenge out of time and for that reason, I made the substitution,” said Bielsa.
“He (Shackleton) entered the game very well, he was dynamic, he didn’t lose the ball and won the ball back a few times. He also had a presence in the opponents’ attacking third.”
Villa were chasing their own piece of club history, having never won their opening five league games of a season before.
They still have not, and Friday night’s defeat saw them miss the chance to top the Premier League table for the first time since October 2001.
Following a first loss of the season, boss Dean Smith said: “I’ve said to the players that I have only been disappointed with 40 minutes of football this season.
“I was frustrated with the second-half performance as I thought at half-time the game was pretty even, we had chances and they had chances.
"It's how we bounce back from this now. It's disappointing, but I can only question 40 minutes of this season so far with these players."
Dean Smith's assessment of tonight's defeat… pic.twitter.com/CUe9Hf0nVe
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) October 23, 2020
“I told them I was disappointed with our reaction to their first goal as I thought it was pretty even up to then, then after that our reactions weren’t what they should be.
“Jack (Grealish) has been great this season and he had a great chance and then they went down the other end and scored.
“After that, we lost a yard and they gained a yard and looked a very good team, while we looked a poor team. We were lucky to get away with three actually the way the last 25 minutes went.
“But you have to give credit to Leeds, I thought they were excellent with their one touch passing and they comfortably beat us in the second half.”