RECALLED Luke Murphy’s double eased the tension at Elland Road as Leeds United recorded their first win under Massimo Cellino’s ownership, writes Martin Jarred.
Two finishes of the highest order defeated poor Blackpool, who are hovering just a couple of points above the Championship relegation places.
The 2-0 win moved the Whites to ten points clear of the drop zone with four games remaining as they ended a run of five successive defeats.
The Tangerines were given an early warning when Ross McCormack’s clever pass played in Murphy who was denied by a desperate last-ditch tackle.
The same combination linked up again when Murphy, back after a three-game absence, again broke into the box, coolly switching the ball to his left foot before sliding the ball past goalkeeper Matt Gilks to earn a 21st minute advantage.
The midfielder sealed the points with 17 minutes remaining, bursting through on to substitute Noel Hunt’s headed flick to dink the ball over Gilks.
Murphy, 24, has struggled since his £1m transfer from League One Crewe but earned rich praise from manager Brian McDermott.
“Luke’s two finishes were excellent and he could have scored before our first goal. You need the right mentality to play at this ground.
“Luke scored a lot of goals for Crewe. He was there from about 12 years of age, playing with the same players while coming through the ranks. Then he came to a massive club like Leeds and it can take time for players to adapt.”
The Leeds boss opted for a solid wing-back system packed with defensive-minded players. He was rewarded with a first clean sheet in ten games while Murphy benefitted from the platform created by Michael Brown and Michael Tonge to push forward.
It was not particularly pretty but Leeds got the job done while the Tangerines, with Burnley, Brighton, Wigan and Charlton to play, are nervously looking over their shoulders.
McDermott, who wore a tracksuit instead of his usual suit, at the suggestion of his daughter, said: “The win was a great relief. It was a big result for us.
“We are on 50 points and that should be enough, but you can’t think like that. I can only think about our next match at Barnsley.”
Leeds United 2 Blackpool 0
Leeds United: Butland, Wooton, Lees, Pearce, Zaliukas (White 80), Warnock, Brown,Tonge, Murphy, McCormack, Smith (Hunt 65). Subs (not used): Cairns, Pugh, Poleon, Stewart, Mowatt
Blackpool: Gilks, McMahon, Cathcart, McKenzie, Robinson,Ferguson, Perkins, Bishop, Halliday (Keogh 74), Basham (Haroun 66), Goodwille. Subs (not used): Osbourne, Halstead, Barkhuizen, Dobbie, Grandin. Caution: Halliday
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)