Pascal Gross hits Brighton winner to sink Leeds

Pascal Gross suffered a nasty blow in the opening seconds of this match.

Leeds defender Diego Llorente headed the ball and instead hit it pretty hard with Gross.

Luckily for Albion – and anyone who enjoys watching a midfield champion at work – it wasn’t a knockout blow.

That’s exactly what Gross himself later landed at Leeds to give Albion a deserved win.

Llorente’s impact certainly didn’t affect the calculating football brain that helped the German open Leeds at least twice in what should have resulted in goals.

It didn’t stop him from keeping his cool as he flattened the winner over Illan Meslier in the 66th minute.

The hard-running, high-IQ midfielder signed a new two-year contract in the summer as some tried to tout a move back to Germany.

According to Graham Potter, Gross now plays the best football of the three and a half years they worked together.

In fact, after a 2021-22 season hampered by two bouts of Covid, he’s probably playing the best stuff of his career.

No wonder fans chanted “We want you to stay” after the final game of last season, in which he also scored.

Albion boss Potter said: “I didn’t really doubt it because knowing Pascal, I know what motivates him.

“It’s about being in a place where he feels important, where he feels valued.

“Where he enjoys his football and where he feels he can develop further.

“You look at his form, you look at how he’s taken his game to another level – which I really believe – and it’s all on him.

“His approach to football and life is fantastic.”

Gross should have scored five times in a row at the Amex.

He recently missed a sitter at home against Newcastle and, as he recalled after that game, had ruled out a potential winner at home against Southampton late last season over a rather dubious VAR offside call.

The subject of a 20-goal man was brought up at Potter’s Friday afternoon press conference – actually by Potter himself, in response to a question that wasn’t really about it.

These ideas of sharing goals, scoring more than you let on and having different options to score those goals were revisited when Potter faced the media after that game.

In Gross’s home country, there is a stats category that they give the English name “Scorer”.

It’s basically goals plus assists – one point for each.

Gross is up to four now and he deserves to have more than one assist.

His superbly curled and whipped free-kick created the clearest chance of a first half in which Albion dominated with their pace, precision and movement. Adam Webster hit the ball at the near post and headed wide.

The generally excellent Solly march was thwarted by Meslier when an exquisitely paced, timed and directed pass from Gross to the volley set him clear.

Gross himself found one wide of the near post and March fired twice straight at the keeper after being found by fabulous passes from Leandro Trossard and Alexis Mac Allister.

At their best, Albion moved the ball sharply and spread the game wide to stretch Leeds, with the Belgian and Argentine’s balls being great examples. It was Trossard’s easier short pass that gave Gross room to score the winning goal after Danny Welbeck had been the initial target and Moises Caicedo put the ball on.

That was enough for Albion as they defended the best defensive record in the Prem with a third straight clean sheet.

Her first big scare came just before her goal and was self-inflicted when Luis Sinisterra pushed the ball past the open goal after a kamikaze work by Pervis Estupinan.

The newcomer from Ecuador got lost as he appeared tired but had done enough for an hour or more to prove he was an exciting opportunity.

He’s certainly very good on the ball and has brought up some great positions.

Leeds’ only other threat came very late, when Llorente somehow saved a free-kick with his back just wide.

Had he put his head there like he did when he accidentally marked Gross early, Albion would have lost two points. In the end, the right team celebrated and the right man did the damage.

Albion: Sanchez; Veltman (Lamptey 70), Dunk, Webster; March (Mwepu 70), Gross, Mac Allister, Caicedo, Estupinan (Mitoma 79), Trossard (Colwill 79), Welbeck (Van Hecke 89). Unused Subs: Steele, Alzate, Undav, Mitoma, Ferguson Booked: Mac Allister, Webster.

Goals: Gross 66.

Leeds United: Meslier; Kristensen, Koch, Llorente, Struijk, Adams, Roca (Klich 59), James (Sinisterra 59), Aaronson (Gelhardt 82), Harrison (Forshaw 74), Rodrigo. Unused substitutes: Klaesson, Summerville, Hjelde, Drameh, Greenwood Booked: Struijk, Roca, Aaronson Goals: None Referee: Michael Salisbury Pascal Gross hits Brighton winner to sink Leeds

Fry Electronics Team

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