Since last summer, Leeds have been playing like a team possessed. Determined to shake off their growing reputation as the EFL's resident bottle merchants after throwing away the title last term and losing to Derby in the playoffs, prior to the break they were looking unbeatable.
Five wins on the spin without conceding a single goal had seen them recover had seen them recover from a frail February, and they sat a point clear at the top of the division - with seven points between them and third.
Me when Leeds put four past Cardiff tomorrow afternoon and extend the gap to 10 points pic.twitter.com/83Q0jwDY6J— Jay (@JAYDlXON) June 20, 2020
But life comes at you fast.
FULL TIME: #LUFC fall to a 2-0 defeat against Cardiff after goals from Hoilett and Glatzel— Leeds United (@LUFC) June 21, 2020
Coming off the back of taking 16 points from 18 games, it seems harsh to say, but in truth it was a performance very much in line with what we've come to expect from Leeds when the ball is in their court.
The pattern was all too familiar; starting well, tailing off, falling behind, and losing the plot. An encouraging start was smashed to pieces when Junior Hoilett powered in an impressive first-half opener, though there were more than a few Leeds players at fault.
Bit of a classic Leeds performance really. weathered an early onslaught, started to dominate, showed brilliant energy and movement but not enough composure or quality in/around the box. Hopefully, without an adrenaline-fuelling crowd, Cardiff will tire in the 2nd. #lufc— EastStandUpper (@EastStandUpper) June 21, 2020
Typical fricking Leeds. Why do we pass pass pass without a decent shot or cross. Others break once and fricking score!! ARGH!!! Bamford being fricking Bamford. #lufc Cardiff time wasting already ?— Asif Rehman (@iamAsifR) June 21, 2020
Cardiff have been on top this game, and they have the breakthrough. A poor pass from Kalvin Phillips gives it straight to Junior Hoilett, who smashes it in from the edge of the box. Leeds just stood off him, allowing him to strike. Poor overall from Leeds.#CityAsOne #lufc— Lewis Radbourne (@lewisradbourne1) June 21, 2020
The first goal was followed by a touching tribute to Cardiff legend Peter Whittingham, who passed away in March.
Despite Bielsa's increasingly animated touch-line antics, his players failed to respond, and any residue of that pre-match positivity was eradicated completely on 71 minutes when some awful defending - if it can even be described as 'defending' - allowed Robert Glatzel in for an impressive second.
71' Goal Cardiff. The Bluebirds double the lead through Glatzel. 2-0— Leeds United (@LUFC) June 21, 2020
The replies to that one were about exactly what you'd expect - utter carnage, with even Arsenal taking a snide bodying.
Looooolll cheers lads bees coming for top 2 ?? pic.twitter.com/oQQs0LYr8Z— Maciek Czamarczan (@MaciekCzamarcza) June 21, 2020
Dead club like Arsenal— Cymoh™? ❁ (@ProfCymOhAFC) June 21, 2020
Cardiff were well worth their win, and some took that fairly well.
Well played Cardiff, Neil Harris works us out every time.— Andywi75on (@andywi75on) June 21, 2020
Sharpness not there one bit.
Onto next game, still chance to go 10 points clear with a win against Fulham but not the start we needed, had a bad feeling about today from wake up. Everything goes for us normal Leeds#CARLEE
Others not so much.
Mugged. 70% possession. 17 shots. Welsh bus parked from the first minute. Crude and cynical snuffing out of our genius and flair. Nevertheless, good luck to Cardiff in the play offs, assuming @lufc will be champions. See you in the Prem https://t.co/qA47NATnbC— Billy Chutzpah (@BillyChutzpah) June 21, 2020
If anyone was wondering what a football stadium looks like in the current climate, BBC Wales had you covered.
Take a look inside the new-look Cardiff City stadium ahead of the Bluebirds' game against Leeds United today ? pic.twitter.com/z6t0HzE5nR— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) June 21, 2020
The new surroundings seemed to have a positive effect on a rejuvenated Cardiff, who continued their supernaturally good record against Leeds.
Ok, so Cardiff’s record against Leeds since 1984 is slightly outrageous pic.twitter.com/4s0M1TDIsu— Chris (@ChrisLukeJones) June 21, 2020
Cardiff’s record against Leeds since 1984:— Callum Ellis (@CallumJEllis) June 21, 2020
Won - 15 ✅
Drawn - 6 ?
Lost - 3 ❌
So far this season. Five shots on target against Leeds. Five goals. Cardiff '100%' City.— View From the Ninian (@ViewFromTheNin) June 21, 2020
All in all, it wasn't a *complete disaster* for United. WBA and Fulham both dropping points on Saturday mean they've got away with one, just about, but it will feel like an opportunity missed.
The form table, meanwhile, suggests they might well need to improve, or risk becoming English football's laughing stock once again come the end of July.
1. West Brom (71)— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 21, 2020
2. Leeds United (71)
Leeds United miss the chance to go into first place after losing 2-0 to Cardiff. pic.twitter.com/l5vgOKBnHQ
C'ship table from New Year (13 games)— Tom Thorogood (@TomThorogood17) June 20, 2020
Hull 5#dcfcfans #dcfc
But while Leeds' slip-up has grabbed the headlines, you'be remiss in not lumping some serious praise in Cardiff's direction. Neil Harris has pieced a struggling team back together, and they are now within goal difference of a playoff spot.
Those hopes of an immediate Premier League return live - just about.
Two fantastic results for both Swansea and Cardiff City in the #Championship this weekend. It’s set for a great finish to the season with both teams nearing the play-offs. Welsh football is alive and kicking. #footballsback pic.twitter.com/bNRqoNVtan— The Events Room (@TheEventsRoom) June 21, 2020