Antenucci praised after scoring again in Leeds United win

Mirco Antenucci scores the second goal for Leeds United at Blackburn. PIC: Simon Hulme

Mirco Antenucci scores the second goal for Leeds United at Blackburn. PIC: Simon Hulme

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Leeds United boss Steve Evans was delighted with striker Mirco Antenucci after the Italian striker’s fourth goal in a week ended up clinching a 2-1 victory for the Whites at Blackburn Rovers.

Centre-back Sol Bamba was also on target with the home team’s only goal coming late on as Leeds climbed up to 12th in the Sky Bet Championship.

It was their third win in eight days and their first success for eight games against Blackburn.

An obviously pleased Evans heaped praise on Antenucci, who is now United’s top scorer with nine this season.

He said: “When I see Antenucci go through in that fashion, I only think he’s going to score.

“I’ve said many times what a wonderful finisher he is on the training ground but there’s been a lot of wonderful finishers on the training ground over the years that can’t hit a barn door when they come out of it but Antenucci’s very much as good on the pitch as he is on the training ground.

“His touch before he dinks it over the boy Steele is a fantastic touch.

“He’s a wonderful player. I’m so pleased for him. He is one player playing with determination for a place in the team. He’s often the difference between winning and losing.”

Head coach Steve Evans made just one change from the team that had beaten Cardiff in midweek with Toumani Diagouraga returning in place of Luke Murphy in midfield.

His team made a lively start with Liam Bridcutt shooting wide early on before Blackburn’s first attack saw Danny Graham’s header saved by United keeper Marco Silvestri.

Shane Duffy then sent a header over from Elliott Bennett’s free-kick, but in an even opening period Leeds went close as Alex Mowatt saw his well struck bending free-kick well saved by home keeper Jason Steele.

The end to end football continued with Watt heading wide for Blackburn and Souleymane Doukara forcing Steele to make another good save with a well struck shot from outside the area.

Silvestri denied former Leeds loanee Graham with a one-on-one save, but it was Leeds who went ahead on 34 minutes.

The goal came from a corner as Mowatt’s inswinger was not dealt with by the home defence and captain Bamba volleyed into the roof of the net from six yards out.

Bamba tried an overhead kick soon after, but a foul in the build-up denied the Whites the chance of another goal.

Into the second half, Graham glanced a header wide as Blackburn threatened from a corner.

Lewis Cook hit a 25-yard shot wide at the other end before Antenucci saw his shot saved by Steele after a good build-up and interlinking with Doukara.

Leeds doubled their advantage on 69 minutes when they came up with an effective counter attack that was finished off by Antenucci’s clever flicked shot.

It was comfortable for United until a nervy finish brought about by Simeon Jackson’s first Blackburn goal a minute from the end of normal time.

However, Evans’ men saw out six minutes on added time well enough for another three points that took them 11 points clear of the relegation places and into the top half of the table.

Evans has now seen his side completely change round their fortunes after the 4-0 defeat at Brighton and was obviously a happy man afterwards.

He said: “Blackburn supporters will go home tonight as well as Leeds supporters and say what a wonderful performance that was from Leeds because our one and two-touch passing all around the pitch was fantastic to watch from the side.”

Match facts

Blackburn Rovers 1

(Jackson 89)

Leeds United 2

(Bamba 34, Antenucci 69)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Attendance: 16,071

Blackburn: Steele, Marshall, Duffy, Hanley, Spurr, Lenihan (Grimes 76), Akpan, Gomez (Conway 71), Bennett, Watt (Jackson 63), Graham.

Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor, Diagouraga (Murphy 90+3), Bridcutt, Mowatt (Dallas 74), Cook, Antenucci, Doukara (Wood 85).

Referee: Keith Stroud.