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“Massive for us” – Gracia opens up on importance of Elland Road atmosphere and “emotional” connection with fans

The “special” Elland Road atmosphere and the close relationship Leeds players have with their supporters has “made the difference” in recent matches for his side, says Whites boss Javi Gracia.

The Leeds players’ ability to draw inspiration from the home crowd was demonstrated on Tuesday evening against Nottingham Forest when the West Yorkshire outfit beat Steve Cooper’s side 2-1.

Things didn’t get off to a great start for the Whites as Forest took the lead in the game’s 12th minute through an Orel Mangala strike.

Yet Leeds – driven on by their dedicated following – equalized eight minutes later as Jack Harrison slotted home on the rebound.

The comeback was sealed during first-half stoppage time as forward Luis Sinisterra weaved his way through the Forest box and curled in a deft finish.

Throughout it all, Elland Road’s famously vociferous atmosphere was in full swing, and Gracia claims it played a critical role in seeing his side over the line to secure a crucial victory.

“Massive for us. It’s something I’m sure it will make the difference for us, playing at home with the atmosphere we have, it’s special,” Gracia said when asked about the importance of playing at home (as per Yorkshire Evening Post).

“You could feel in the last game, we started losing and all the support we felt in that moment helped us to get three points at the end of the game.”

This sense of connection between team and fanbase is one which the 52-year-old has felt since replacing former head coach Jesse Marsch at the club.

“I could feel the relation between the supporters and the team from my first game.

“For example when I was at the memorial for Christopher and Kevin, it’s something you can feel the difference in the club, you can see the relation between the supporters with all the club.

“It’s something really emotional and something we have to keep for the next years.”

Gracia will be looking to harness Elland Road’s atmosphere yet again on Sunday when fellow Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace visit in what is another key fixture for his side.

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