Marcelo Bielsa insisted Patrick Bamford will be positive about his season even if it does not end in England selection after Leeds’ victory at Southampton. The game looked to be heading for a draw until Bamford poked the ball through the legs of Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to give his side a 73rd-minute lead.
The striker had only one top-flight goal to his name before this season, despite spells at Crystal Palace, Norwich, Burnley and Middlesbrough, with his solitary strike coming for the latter against Southampton in May 2017.
Tuesday’s goal at St Mary’s was Bamford’s 16th of the season and does no harm to his chances of securing a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championship.
Substitute Tyler Roberts then sealed victory in added time when he tapped the ball into the back of the net.
“Patrick had a very generous performance with a lot of effort and he’s had a season in which he’s shone and I’m sure he’ll be very positive about the campaign he’s had be what may,” Bielsa said. “Everything that he’s achieved this season is because of the dedication and effort that he’s put in to show off his abilities.”
Victory on the south coast guarantees a top-10 finish for Leeds after last season’s promotion as they moved above Arsenal and Everton – who both play on Wednesday – and into eighth place.
On Roberts’ first Premier League goal, the Leeds manager added: “I was happy that he scored because he had played many games and hadn’t managed to do it and the team in the second half looked a lot more like the team that it is.”
For the first time since December, Southampton fans were able to watch their side play in person and around 8,000 were in attendance, with their manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl, praising their impact.
“Absolutely amazing for me and when I was coming out at the beginning of the game it was an impressive view to see them sitting there,” he said. “It looked very full although there were only 8,000, but unbelievable. A massive moment for everyone. We really tried to give them a win today because they have been fantastic and supported us until the end.
“We did forget how good it felt to have them back and how good it feels to see them and it definitely gives us something we can look forward to in the next season.”
Southampton had scored six goals in their previous two home games but were unable to find the same form against Leeds.
“Tough, an expected tough game,” Hasenhüttl added. “We cannot play better than we did in the first half, to be honest, it was against a physically so strong team.