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Jack Harrison says Leeds fitness levels key to timely win over Newcastle

The winger revealed Leeds’ determination to stick to their intense style of play against the Magpies

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Jack Harrison, left, scored Leeds’ fifth goal against Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Jack Harrison, left, scored Leeds’ fifth goal against Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Jack Harrison, left, scored Leeds’ fifth goal against Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Leeds winger Jack Harrison saluted a redemptive 5-2 victory over Newcastle at Elland Road, drawing a line under a frustrating past few weeks for the West Yorkshire club.

Back-to-back defeats against West Ham and Chelsea, despite taking the lead in both matches, had turned up the pressure on Marcelo Bielsa’s side, who had gone five games without a win at home prior to Wednesday night.

It seemed that run might continue when Ciaran Clark headed Newcastle level, exposing Leeds’ weakness at set-pieces in the process, but a barnstorming final 13 minutes swung the match dramatically in the hosts’ favour.

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Jack Harrison was on the score-sheet as Leeds returned to winning ways against Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Jack Harrison was on the score-sheet as Leeds returned to winning ways against Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Jack Harrison was on the score-sheet as Leeds returned to winning ways against Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Stuart Dallas struck as Leeds took the lead again and Ezgjan Alioski put the finishing touch on a swift counter-attack, while Harrison added further gloss to the scoreline by superbly finding the top corner from 25 yards.

“We’ve had a few rough games and we were really hoping to come back and redeem ourselves,” Harrison said on Leeds’ official website.

“We knew how important it was to come out strong, be aggressive and play our usual game and we did exactly that.

“We want to be as aggressive and intense as we can. If you look at all the players making long runs in the last few minutes, it shows our fitness levels and how we want to play. We know how important it is for us to do that.”

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Leeds had not won at home in their previous five matches before the visit of Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Leeds had not won at home in their previous five matches before the visit of Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Leeds had not won at home in their previous five matches before the visit of Newcastle (Rui Vieira/PA)

Seeking a way back into the game, Newcastle were twice caught out as Leeds quickly turned defence into attack, Harrison capping a memorable night for the home side with his left-foot strike from distance after driving forward.

“It was just a spur of the moment thing,” Harrison added. “I didn’t really think about it too much and I think when I don’t think about it too much, that’s when the best things can happen.

“It was really fortunate to get that one at the end, we’re always trying to be intense and play until the final whistle.”

Newcastle took the lead through Jeff Hendrick but Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo headed home either side of the interval to put Leeds ahead.

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It was a forgettable night for Newcastle (Lee Smith/PA)

It was a forgettable night for Newcastle (Lee Smith/PA)

It was a forgettable night for Newcastle (Lee Smith/PA)

While Clark headed in from a corner midway through the second half, Newcastle imploded late on as Leeds leapfrogged their beaten opponents, moving up to 13th in the Premier League.

Steve Bruce was heavily critical of Newcastle’s defending in the final quarter of an hour and not even the return of Ryan Fraser, who was involved in both of the visitors’ goals on his first appearance since the start of last month following a hamstring injury, could soothe the head coach’s mood.

“He’ll be a good acquisition for us,” Bruce said. “But the one thing we have to do, it’s alright he’s had a couple of assists, but we have to make ourselves better defensively. We can’t make those mistakes we’ve made.

“We’ve chased the game, got caught and you can’t do that at this level. The last 10 minutes masks for me what the rest of the game was.”

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