Leeds United 1-3 Norwich City Player Ratings: Aarons performs to the Max

Teemu Pukki – bbc.co.uk

Norwich City have gone top of the Championship with a statement victory on Saturday teatime, with Daniel Farke’s Canaries winning 3-1 at prime promotion rivals Leeds United. Here’s our Player Ratings from an outstanding victory for the Yellows.

Leeds United

Kiko Casilla – the goalkeeper, who arrived in January, made one good stop at Rotherham last week but he was called into action more often here and was not always especially convincing. The former Real Madrid man Vrancic’s effort go under him for the final goal, one of three he conceded from five shots on target he faced. 4

Luke Ayling – the right-back has been one of Leeds’ most reliable performers for a couple of seasons but, since coming back from injury this term, he has not quite looked himself. If Jamie Shackleton came in, he could freshen the team up by offering a bit more energy and bolder off-the-ball runs, taking Ayling out of the limelight for a short period. 4
Liam Cooper – the aggressive centre-back was brave in the air and did a lot of good work to cut out Norwich’s attacking moves, bailing out his fellow defenders on occasion. Certainly not the primary reason Leeds lost and it could be argued that he had a reasonable game. 6
Pontus Jansson – the Swede was not quite at the level of the player who was picked ahead of Victor Lindelöf at the World Cup, but it would be hard to place too much blame on him for Leeds’ defensive issues. Slightly unfortunate that a brave block from Vrancic’s effort happened to fall for Pukki for the second. 5
Ezgjan Alioski – the industrious Macedonian had adjusted well to playing left-back in recent weeks, but this was an off-day for the industrious wide man, who lost individual battles with Aarons at either end of the pitch. Moved further forward when Douglas came on yet still was not able to attack the flank with his usual gusto. 4

Adam Forshaw – the midfielder was at fault for both of Norwich’s first half goals, committing the foul for the free-kick and giving the ball away in the lead-up to the second. Forshaw plays with the confidence of a man with the freedom to make third-man runs and while at times that helped Leeds’ build-up play, it also meant their defence was left wide open. 3

Pablo Hernandez – the creative Spaniard normally produces some excellent balls into the box but, aside from one looping pass that set Roberts free, he looked unusually hesitant in possession here and was unable to work his magic, prior to being withdrawn at the break. 4
Mateusz Klich – the Pole loves to make third man runs into advanced areas and that could sometimes be a positive for Leeds going forward, with two venomous first half shots that flew off-target and another blocked by Godfrey. Equally however, there were times when he over-committed to the press, leaving gaps through which Norwich could play. 5
Tyler Roberts – the versatile forward has kicked on from an impressive loan spell at Walsall last season, even if he occupied an usual advanced midfield role here. The challenge for him was to balance his desire to get into goalscoring areas with his responsibility to drop in when required; he did one or two pieces of tracking back as well as making some powerful runs and was perhaps among Leeds’ better first half performers. 6
Jack Harrison – the Manchester City loanee had an opportunity to get into Marcelo Bielsa’s plans after the move for Daniel James fell through, but he did not quite take it here. Aside from one accurate, dinked cross from the byline that set up Alioski, Harrison generally looked reluctant to take his man on, despite being primed for being a right-winger capable of doing just that. 4

Kemar Roofe – the former Oxford man showed his determination to respond to Norwich’s second goal with a strong solo run, before forcing a sharp save from Krul. However, his dive just before the hour mark under no pressure from Lewis is not a moment he will look back on with great fondness and the false nine fell short of his usual standards. 4

Barry Douglas (on 45) – the former Wolves man has been widely accepted as the best left-back in the Championship over the last 18 months, but after coming off the bench to allow Alioski to move further forward, he did not quite make the desired impact, aside from one or two good deliveries when the game was effectively decided. 6
Jack Clarke (on 45) – with Leeds’ move for Daniel James falling through at the eleventh hour, there was that bit more pressure on wide men like Clarke to produce. The 18-year-old dealt with that pressure admirably after coming off the bench at half-time and was Leeds’ one bright spark – if there was more players with his willingness to take players on, the Whites might have got back into the game. 7
Patrick Bamford (on 66) – the former Derby forward has got over his second injury of the campaign and, if he can stay fit this time, looks set to make a key contribution to Leeds’ promotion push. Headed in a consolation following an injury-time corner, having found the crossbar moments earlier. 7

Norwich City

Tim Krul – over the last two months, Krul has been vital for Norwich and has at times kept them in games when they have not been on top-form; he continued that form here by making a vital reaction stop here from Roofe, moments after the second goal. However, the Dutchman’s display was marred slightly by moments of unsavoury off-the-ball antics. 5

Max Aarons – the 18-year-old has been a revelation this term, getting forward from right-back with great energy to stretch play with numerous positive runs. In the second half, he won individual battles with Alioski at both ends of the field and played a major part in keeping the Macedonian quiet. One blemish, dragging wide of the near-post after stealing the ball from close-range, should not detract from an otherwise outstanding display. 9
Christoph Zimmermann – as the most experienced centre-back in this Norwich rear-guard, Zimmermann made some good blocks and looks like a true leader in that group. Although he was perhaps guilty of being caught out of position on one first half occasion by Roberts, this was otherwise a sound display. 8
Ben Godfrey – it is clear that Daniel Farke sees Godfrey as a centre-back, rather than a holding midfielder and on this evidence, one can see why. Last season’s Shrewsbury loan star made a serious of important blocks, including one from Klich in the first half. If there were to be one criticism, it might be that his inclusion does not give Norwich another dominant aerial presence from set pieces, but then that has never been his main selling point. 7
Jamal Lewis – the academy graduate faces increased competition following the recent arrival of Phil Heise but he responded to that well, getting forward strongly in the first half to combine with Stiepermann before setting up Buendia’s chance late in the first period. After the break, his attentions were occupied slightly by Clarke, at least until he broke forward to tee up the third. Ball retention could have been slightly better. 7

Mario Vrancic – against lower placed sides, the midfield technician had performed well in the absence of Moritz Leitner, but to do the same against the league leaders was the biggest statement yet of his capabilities. Vrancic not only opened the scoring with a sublime left-footed free-kick, he also did a lot of important work without the ball and popped up in numerous different areas. 9
Tom Trybull – Alex Tettey was fit enough to make the bench, so the fact Farke favoured Trybull is a clear sign of how well he has played while his more senior counter-part was injured. Trybull produced yet another energetic, tenacious display, producing certain qualities that Tettey himself might have struggled to offer. 7

Emiliano Buendia – even the most casual Championship follower knows that Buendia is the master of delicate through balls and he showed his creative qualities on numerous occasions, including a good run to set up the second goal, but less externally recognized is the other side to his game which we saw more often here. Buendia has a bit of bite about him, a willingness track back and be strong in the challenge, a duty which he upholded throughout, aside from one first half split-second when he let Alioski get a dangerous shot away. Had his opportunity to get on the scoresheet late in the first half, blazing over at the back-post following a passing move via the left channel. 8
Marco Stiepermann – the forward has an element of physicality about him which makes him a useful component of Norwich’s press, as well as giving them the option to go direct. Unusually for a tall forward however, Stiepermann appeared to have quick feet in tight areas, which allowed the team to hold onto the ball high up the pitch. 8
Onel Hernandez – the wide forward offers something different to every player in this Norwich squad, just through his willingness to take defenders on at pace. The Cuban-born dribbler won the free-kick that led to the opener and was a useful counter-attacking outlet throughout. 7

Teemu Pukki – the Finish false nine showed why he has been arguably the Championship’s signing of the season. Not only did he bag Norwich’s second goal with a back-post tap-in, he also made selfless runs, got through a lot of graft without the ball and won the odd free-kick along the way. A key component of this Canaries side, even when he is not on the ball himself. 7

Alex Tettey (on 84) – the experienced holding midfielder came on late on to help shore things up, but his introduction was not necessarily of great help to Norwich due to not providing the same level of energy as Trybull. As great a servant as Tettey has been to Norwich, the perception of him as an irreplaceable cog in the current team may soon need to be revised slightly. 4
Kenny McLean (on 85) – the versatile, dynamic midfielder managed a late cameo to build-up his match fitness, although it could be difficult for him to break into the first eleven unless injuries strike, with the Canaries out of both cup competitions. 5
Jordan Rhodes (on 87) – the Scot is a proven poacher at Championship level, but did not get a chance to show it in his short time on the pitch, with all the emphasis on defending. 5