Goals from Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford condemned Palace to a 2-0 defeat as Leeds United took all three points at Elland Road.
- Harrison’s deflected shot gives Leeds an early lead.
- Bamford misses a glorious chance to make it two.
- Palace grow into the half, threatening with Ayew.
- Struijk has two chances to score with his head, but both are well off-target.
- HT: Leeds 1-0 Palace
- Bamford makes it 2-0 shortly after the restart, tapping in after Raphinha’s shot was saved.
- Palace create chances as Eze fires over from close-range.
- Harrison hits the crossbar in the dying moments.
- FT: Leeds 2-0 Palace
Palace had the worst possible start at a freezing Elland Road, as Leeds took an early lead via a significant deflection.
Picking up the ball on the edge of the area, Jack Harrison made space before letting fly, the ball cannoning off Gary Cahill and past a despairing Vicente Guaita.
Palace responded well, Patrick van Aanholt and Jairo Riedewald combining nicely on the left-hand side, exchanging passes before the latter was fed in the penalty area, but couldn’t get the ball under control.
Jean-Philippe Mateta began to show glimpses of what he can offer. A particularly inventive piece of hold-up play exhibited both strength and guile, setting up a counter attacking opportunity for Jordan Ayew, his strike partner.
But it was Leeds who were creating the better chances, and Patrick Bamford forced a smart save from Guaita when his powerful header looked bound for the bottom corner.
Bamford should have scored moments later, when Leeds broke forward dangerously. Through on goal, he shaped to guide it towards the top corner, but got the connection all wrong and the chance was wasted.
Palace grew into the half, and once again Mateta’s hold up play was causing Leeds problems.
The hosts were a constant danger however, and once again spurned a chance to make it two, when Pascal Struijk was given a free header on the penalty spot, but failed to hit the target.
He had a second bite at the cherry moments later when Phillips’ cross found him six yards out, but this time he got his timing all wrong as he stooped and headed wide.
As the first half drew to a close, Palace had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down, when Ayew went down under pressure as he prepared to pull the trigger.
The referee was unmoved, and from the resulting goal-kick Leeds broke forward, finding Bamford in the box. Assuming himself to be offside, he was nonplussed when his touch let him down – but replays showed the goal, had he finished, would have stood.
Palace started the second-half brightly, with newly introduced Andros Townsend full of energy and endeavour.
Winning the ball back high up the pitch, they broke forward, Riedewald feeding Ayew on the edge of the area. His touch took him wide and tightened the angle, and the defender was able to block the shot.
Once again, Leeds countered at frightening speed, and this time they were clinical. Raphinha, who was arguably the hosts’ standout player, stormed forwards and found space in behind. His powerful effort was saved well by Guaita, who managed to get a strong wrist behind the ball.
However the rebound fell to Bamford, who stroked the ball into the empty net to double his side’s advantage.
Leeds were emboldened, and Bamford tested Guaita’s reactions again soon after, before Struijk’s header was cleared as it looked destined for the back of the net.
Palace were able to create chances, and Michy Batshuayi made an immediate impact after being introduced, teeing up Eze on the penalty spot, but his shot was too high to trouble the goalkeeper. Townsend also went close from the edge of the area.
Out of nowhere, Leeds could explode into action, and it was almost three when Harrison struck the bar from close-range.
All three substitutes imposed themselves well on the game, and Benteke saw his effort saved as the match entered added time.
It concluded a tough night for Palace, whose continued endeavour ultimately went unrewarded, and whose attention will now turn to Burnley on Saturday.
Leeds: Meslier (GK), Ayling, Cooper, Bamford, Alioski, Dallas, Raphinha, Struijk, Harrison, Phillips (Shackleton, 88), Klich.
Subs not used: Casilla (GK), Roberts, Costa, Davis, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Jenkins, Huggins.
Palace: Guaita (GK), Clyne, Dann, Cahill, Mitchell, Milivojevic, Riedewald, van Aanholt (Townsend, HT), Eze, Ayew (Benteke, 75), Mateta (Batshuayi, 65).
Subs not used: Butland (GK), Kouyate, Kelly.