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Daniel Farke reveals story behind Leeds United first goal in rout as staff member gets credit



Daniel Farke has revealed the story behind Leeds United’s first goal against Norwich City, which opened the floodgates as the Whites romped to Wembley.

The game was just seven minutes old when Elland Road erupted at the sight of Ilia Gruev’s wicked free-kick hitting the back of the net and catching Canaries keeper Angus Gunn too far across his goal. Gruev and Crysencio Summerville were seen in furtive discussions before the latter ran over the ball and left it to the Bulgarian to curl home. Gruev had also turned to the bench to seek guidance on the decision, before taking it. When he did, he shaped to curl a cross to the back post and instead whipped the ball inside the near upright instead.


According to Farke, Gunn’s positioning was something the backroom staff at Thorp Arch specifically hoped to target in a situation like this one but Gruev still had to apply the necessary quality to bring the idea to fruition. “Credit to our analysing team and especially [assistant manager] Edmund Riemer, responsible for this,” said the boss. “We have to be more creative than other teams, we’re not the best headers, so we’ve worked a lot on this topic, also on short options. We analysed the opponents, the positioning of the goalkeeper, but you can’t plan it just on the training pitch, you need a bit of luck and the moment when Ilia fulfills this plan with great quality, the instinct that it is the moment to do this. Compliments for such a precise execution and a decisive moment.”

Farke’s favourite goal might have been the last one, however. Leeds raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half and could have been five or six up before the midway point of the second half. It was in the 68th minute that Crysencio Summerville finally added the fourth and Farke allowed himself to start thinking about a play-off final in London.

After we scored the fourth goal I was at least sure we would go to Wembley,” he said. “I’m never relaxed. Ashley Barnes is always difficult but if you have such a player in your team you like it, he tries everything to change momentum or provoke something. If you react to a provocation and get a yellow or red the momentum can change. I was always switched on to make sure everyone reacted in the perfect way and would calm our game down a bit. I would probably say we were pretty close to how we want to play, dominant, creating and rock solid defending. There were several scenes we could have done better, when we start the attack, preparing situations and how to finish. We allowed them to have this one counter, if he scores the momentum can change again. Big, big compliment to Illan, there with a world-class save in a crucial moment. In this job you can never relax. After we scored the fourth I had a good feeling.”

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