Albion’s superb start to the season continued with a hard-fought but deserved 1-0 win over Leeds in the Amex sunshine.
It looked like being a frustrating afternoon as we squandered some excellent chances before Leeds were carved open again midway through the second half and Pascal Gross’s precise finish arrowed into the bottom corner, the German’s third goal of the season.
For a few minutes after the goal Albion led the table before Manchester City completed their comeback from 2-0 down to beat Crystal Palace and take top spot.
Not that anyone in the Amex was complaining. We are up to third in the table and the celebrations at the full-time whistle were long and exuberant.
With Adam Lallana out, Graham Potter made his first change to the line-up this season as Pervis Estupinan came in for his full Premier League debut. Evan Ferguson, fresh from his midweek Carabao Cup goal, stepped up to the bench.
Albion got on top from the first whistle, pressing intently and turning over possession frequently, especially in the middle third.
The only thing missing from the first half was the goal to reward their dominance, although there were chances.
A lovely link-up involving Gross and Danny Welbeck got Leandro Trossard away in space on the left but as he cut inside to shoot Tyler Adams made a vital break.
Adam Webster then had two chances with headers. His first, from Estupinan’s cross, was well wide but he ought to have scored in the 17th minute when he met Gross’s corner with a free header, but it flew a yard wide.
Solly March twice tested Leeds’ keeper Illan Meslier with powerful shots and fouls on Albion’s No7 earned bookings for Marc Rosa and Pascal Strujik while Brenden Aaronson was cautioned for bringing down Joel Veltman. Albion ended the half aggrieved that they weren’t in front.
Albion began the second period on the front foot too. One lovely exchange down the left involving Moises Caicedo and Danny Welbeck enabled Estupinan to fire a cross in which Gross stabbed just wide.
Another great chance went begging in the 50th minute. Welbeck’s great hold-up and lay-off to Gross was followed by a defence-splitting pass that sent March free down the middle, but his shot was too close to Meslier who parried it away. Eight minutes later March came onto another great ball, this time from Estupinan, but couldn’t keep what was a difficult chance down.
Albion were nearly punished on the hour when Brenden Aaronson’s cross was deflected by Estupinan into the path of substitute Luis Sinisterra at the far post but he couldn’t turn it into the net. Rob Sanchez stood tall to block Rodrigo’s effort as Leeds enjoyed a good spell but then Albion finally broke through in the 67th minute.
Caicedo and Welbeck, who had timed his run to beat the offside trap were both involved before Trossard spotted Gross’s late run and the German fired past Meslier with his right from about 15 yards.
Referee Salisbury booked Leeds’ head coach Jesse Marsch for his protests before his side rallied in the closing stages. Llorente flicked a close-range header wide and by the end Albion had four central defenders on the pitch including Jan Paul van Hecke, who made his Premier League bow.
They got the job done, seeing out six minutes of stoppage time to seal a deserved three points.
Albion: Sanchez, Veltman (Lamptey 70), Webster, Dunk, Estupinan (Mitoma 78), March (Mwepu 70), Caicedo, Mac Allister, Trossard (Colwill 78), Gross, Welbeck (van Hecke 88).
Subs not used: Steele, Alzate, Undav, Ferguson.
Referee: Michael Salisbury