MARCELO BIELSA used all his tactical nous to engineer a victory against Southampton which takes Leeds United a step closer to their goal of staying in the Premier League.

Things were not exactly going to plan at Elland Road on Tuesday night before the Argentine’s tinkering brought a 3-0 win which lifts the Whites up to 35 points in 10th spot.

That may already be enough to guarantee top-flight football next season but Bielsa won’t allow his side to rest on their laurels for the remaining 13 games.

Southampton’s high press in the first half prevented Leeds from stitching many attacking moves of significance together on the dreadful slippery Elland Road surface.

Tackles were being missed and passes were going astray as the Saints took command of midfield.

Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard and Nathan Tella, making his first senior start, both missed early opportunities as Leeds were penned in.

The lively Tella then tried to manufacture a penalty against Diego Llorente which was correctly overturned on a VAR review.

Southampton were more aggrieved just before the interval when James Ward-Prouse’s quick free-kick saw Che Adams find the net only to have it disallowed because it was taken a split-second before referee Andre Marriner blew his whistle.

The only two clear openings Leeds had managed in the first half both involved Raphinha.

The Brazilian set up Tyler Roberts who blazed over the bar from the edge of the box; then he raced on to a superb Stuart Dallas pass only to be denied by a magnificent tackle in the box by Oriel Romeu.

Although Southampton went in at half-time angry, it was Leeds who had the bigger problems to solve.

Bielsa found the answer by making Leeds play longer passes to the flanks where Raphinha, playing on the left, destroyed marker Jan Bednarek, and Helder Costa, on for the ineffective Jack Harrison, posed the visitors plenty of problems with his speed.

Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “First half good, second half disaster.

“We deserved to lose today because in the second half we have not been playing what we should be against this team. In the first half we showed we can compete as a team, the second half balls in behind were causing us problems.”

Two minutes after the restart Roberts fed Patrick Bamford who drilled a low shot into the far corner. From that point the game opened up to Leeds’ liking.

Although Southampton drew a couple of smart saves from Illan Meslier, it was Leeds who created the better opportunities to increase their lead.

Raphinha was creating havoc but it was Costa who provided the pass for Dallas to net which the tip of his boot on 78 minutes.

With six minutes remaining another devastating Leeds break was halted by a foul on Costa, Raphinha despatching the free-kick for a goal his performance richly deserved.

Bielsa said: “The difference of three goals is bigger than the difference in the performance between the two teams.

“Raphinha is a player very necessary because he can unbalance teams by himself.

“Our game is based on combinations and to have a player who can combine and create in individual actions, that is very important.”