Gruev sparks first-half goal rush as Leeds stun Norwich to reach Wembley

<span>Ilia Gruev celebrates after opening the scoring for Leeds in the seventh minute.</span><span>Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images</span>
Ilia Gruev celebrates after opening the scoring for Leeds in the seventh minute.Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

Property experts believe Leeds is becoming an increasingly fashionable home for bright young professionals priced out of London but, as compelling as their arguments are, the city lacks one vital magnet: a Premier League football team.

Or at least it does at the moment. If the outstanding Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto, Archie Gray and company play as intelligently and incisively as this in the Championship playoff final at Wembley on Sunday week that deficiency will surely be rectified.

Related: Leeds v Norwich: Championship playoff semi-final, second leg – live

After watching a stunned Norwich being not so much defeated as thoroughly decimated, neither Southampton nor West Brom – who meet in Friday night’s second semi final – will relish the prospect of facing Daniel Farke’s sharp passing, pace suffused side in a final worth at least £135m to the winner.

The Leeds manager twice led Norwich to promotion and he had their measure here. “It was a great night for us,” said the German. “My young players were brilliant but when Elland Road is rocking this place is second to none. It’s too early for praise and self love but we have a great chance to write another chapter in the history of this amazing club.”

Norwich’s manager, David Wagner, was less animated. “It’s a low,” he admitted. “Leeds were very good but we were, obviously, very poor. Everything you should not do, we’ve done. We were second in all the duels. We switched off. The fairytale does not have a happy ending.”

The night concluded with the Kaiser Chiefs’ I Predict a Riot blasting out of Elland Road’s sound system but began with anarchic defending destroying Norwich’s hopes of reaching the Premier League.

They allowed Ilia Gruev’s expertly taken, seventh minute free-kick to evade the reach of a thoroughly deceived Angus Gunn after Marcelino Núñez flattened Joe Rodon and Leeds won that set play wide on the right and almost 30 yards out.

Virtually everybody, Gunn included, expected Gruev to float a cross into the box but, noticing Norwich’s goalkeeper had moved to the far post, the midfielder instead used his left foot to send the ball curving low inside the near post.

Farke’s side had finished 17 points ahead of Wagner’s team and, as if to emphasise that gap, Norwich had merely 20% of possession at times. They swiftly conceded a second goal when Gnonto’s fabulous early cross drew Gunn off his line, leaving the keeper stranded as an unmarked Joël Piroe arrived in precisely the right place at the right time to head Leeds further in front.

It prompted a fierce exchange between Wagner’s centre-halves, Shane Duffy and Ben Gibson, before, more positively, inspiring Norwich’s first, and almost last, attack. That advance concluded with Illan Meslier making a tremendous sprawling save to deny Josh Sargent after the striker tricked Ethan Ampadu.

Otherwise, Leeds were so dominant that the caution and caginess of last Sunday’s goalless first leg at Carrow Road became a receding memory. Norwich simply could not handle the slickness and invention of Farke’s players’ one- and two-touch passing, let alone the devastating change of attacking pace that Gnonto and Summerville delighted in repeatedly displaying.

They fell further behind when Georginio Rutter lashed the ball into the back of the net via the underside of the bar. The French forward struggled following hernia surgery in March but, returning to his impressive best here, reacted sharply when, despite falling over, Summerville somehow managed to prod the ball his way.

That goal began with Norwich’s dissection in the face of Piroe’s left-wing advance. Piroe, starting in place of the injured Patrick Bamford excelled in attack, tormenting Wagner’s defence.

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Indeed with the excellent Gray looking every inch a Premier League player at right back, Leeds convinced across the pitch. Summerville deservedly scored their fourth, completing a move he had started after Gunn parried Gnonto’s strike and Junior Firpo played the ball back into his path.

Leeds fans had long revelled in twirling blue and yellow trimmed white scarves above their heads but now they finally felt sufficiently confident to alternate choruses of “We’re going to Wembley” with “Marching on Together”.

Verbal and visual definitions of triumph are rarely more convincing.