Here the YEP takes a huge moment in the fight for the relegation of the Merengues.
His reading of the game was superb and allowed him to mop up so many dangerous moments, stifle Watford’s attacks and protect the clean sheet. He wasn’t bad on the ball either, on a day when so few showed composure or precision. His return to the side was hugely important for Leeds and so well timed for Jesse Marsch. Cooper fully deserved both the man of the match award and the jubilant full-time celebrations with the fans.
Everton’s win made Leeds’ win at Vicarage Road doubly important. In doing so, they responded to the Toffees’ win in the best way and moved to the edge of safety. Had they lost, the mood around the club for the next two and a half weeks would have been unbearably tense and sour. Instead, relief abounds.
For so long the striker had to settle for the shadow of his good friend Joe Gelhardt, but at Watford he had a chance to shine and took it. He was lively, brave in possession, aggressive and wise in his decision-making. Made a difference and gave Leeds something different in the final third.
It wasn’t his best game for Leeds by far, but his goal was huge and spelled his name singing away. His fortunes have changed incredibly in recent weeks and the three goals he has scored in the last four games have all been incredibly significant. Whatever was holding him back and whatever is now allowing him to come forward is so well chosen for Leeds.
A player with so much ability, he had the space and time to show it but couldn’t come up with the end product Watford so badly needed. Their best chance of the match went to the winger and although he only had Illan Meslier to beat, he found support behind goal. It was a sliding-door moment in the game, with Leeds finding the second goal they needed thanks to an error at the other end shortly after.
So much possession, so little quality in the end. Had they enjoyed some sort of composure in the final third, the Hornets would have gotten something out of this game, but now they’re really stuck in the mud. It will take something miraculous to save them from the fall.
The Hornets boss was a disappointed and frustrated full-time man. He declined to say he was confident Watford could pull through because confidence only comes with wins. Had Sarr hidden this glorious chance, Hodgson might have faced a whole different set of questions at the press conference.
Watford were causing trouble, they looked like the team most likely to score the next goal and had they done so, Leeds could have faced a long break in the worst of moods. But Rodrigo stayed calm to take advantage of a terrible mistake and from that moment there was only one winner.
Ten points out of a possible 12 lifted Leeds to a position that can’t quite be described as a safety, but is so close to it.
As Kalvin Phillips emerged with his team-mates in sunny London down a nearly empty Vicarage road, they were cradled by a group of Leeds fans in an executive box at the Graham Taylor Stand. The rendition of Marching on Together was a treat with Phillips and friends.
Majority owner Andrea Radrizzani was pitchside beforehand and probably felt the same nerves as anyone associated with Leeds United.
What might not have gone so well with chief medical officer Rob Price was the sight of Joe Gelhardt competing for high balls with Sam Greenwood. Illan Meslier was giving them catch-up training and Gelhardt, who only got back into shape the day before the game, had yet to warm up.
Boss Jesse Marsch spent an age chatting with Adam Forshaw on the pitch before teams went out to warm up. Marsch later said it was just a conversation about the team and where they want to go, with a player he considers a good man to have such a conversation with.
Luke Ayling rose to fame when he lined up a volley 25 yards from goal, only to smash it against the scoreboard above the outside side. He had a smile on his face and Pascal Struijk was tickled on the touchline.
The full-time whistle brought enormous relief and joy to Leeds. Rodrigo went straight outside to celebrate and Phillips danced as the Spaniard’s new song was sung. Cooper was there to wake up the troops and Phillips punched to three huge cheers. A great victory celebrated in style.