Willy Gnonto was booked over 15 minutes after being substituted for Leeds United after sprinting back on to celebrate Junior Firpo’s winner, Joe Donnohue reports.
The Italian international had looked like the most threatening avenue of the home side’s attack for most of his time on the pitch, but was substituted by new boss Javi Gracia just after the hour after being on the receiving end of a heavy foul.
But that didn’t stop him racing back from the bench to join the celebrations when Firpo scored the only goal of the game in the 77th minute to capture a huge three points against Southampton.View Tweet
Posting on Twitter after the game on Saturday (25 February) Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Donnohue wrote: “Amidst the chaos of Junior Firpo’s winner, Willy Gnonto – who had already been subbed – was booked after sprinting back onto the pitch to join his teammates.
“He loves it.”
Give it a few more weeks and if Leeds United are still stuck in a relegation battle goals like this one will see the bench cleared in the manner of late wins over Norwich and Wolves last season.
Gnonto may only have arrived as a last-minute change of plans after the board failed to sign any of their other attacking targets on deadline day earlier this season, but he has quickly become a star in this squad.
If he wasn’t injured he was unlucky to be taken off as early as he was on Saturday because he had combined well down the left with surprise stand-out Firpo numerous times, and was clearly seen as as threat by Ruben Selles’ side.
It was 5 November the last time these players won in the Premier League so it was a huge release of energy from the squad and the fans in the stands when Firpo’s weak shot spun through Gavin Bazunu to put the Whites ahead.
They had been on top for the majority of the game and seen some good chances go to waste late in the first half, so tension was starting to build on an already fraught encounter between the two sides bottom of the top flight.
Just when it felt like it might be another one of those days this season where Leeds United have the better of the play and don’t finish with anything to show for it Firpo found the net on a day where he personally rebounded from a tough time in West Yorkshire.
Gnonto is a favourite already for a reason so few supporters would have been surprised to see him running back into the action after being substituted, and will hope there are a few more occasions yet where the emotion can be released like this one.