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Report: Leeds hold dominant Palace in fractious Selhurst Park affair

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Crystal Palace were frustrated by Leeds United on a tense and scrappy evening at Selhurst Park, as they were unable to capitalise on their dominance and were forced to settle for a goalless draw.

Summary:

  • Mateta beats the ‘keeper with a deft lob, but Llorente races back to clear off the line.
  • Gallagher’s defence splitting ball sets Ayew in, but Mateta can’t turn his low cross home.
  • Zaha causes havoc on the left, with Leeds reduced to bringing him down several times in quick succession.
  • HT: Palace 0-0 Leeds
  • Raphina's shot is blocked behind straight from the restart.
  • Zaha finds Mateta in the area but his shot flies over the crossbar.
  • Palace pile on the pressure, with Ward and Gallagher going close.
  • Zaha forces Meslier into a stunning double save.
  • FT: Palace 0-0 Leeds

Patrick Vieira had been keen to emphasise before kick-off the need for Palace to avoid their slow start at Newcastle and impose themselves on Leeds from the outset. He was duly rewarded.

The Eagles came racing out of the blocks and dominated the ball early on. They were very nearly on the scoresheet within four minutes, as Nathaniel Clyne sent Jean-Philippe Mateta through on goal; he beat Illan Meslier with a deft lob, but Diego Llorente came racing back to clear off the line.

Among the fast starters, Conor Gallagher was the standout in central midfield, the first to every ball and a constant source of irritation to Leeds in possession.

Finding space behind the halfway line, he clipped a glorious defence-splitting pass over the top of the visitors’ defence and into Jordan Ayew, who brought it down and crossed low into the area. Mateta was waiting at the far post to tap into an empty net, but Luke Ayling did just enough to come across and get a vital touch as he made contact.

As with so many teams this season, Leeds were finding it difficult to cope with Wilfried Zaha’s turn of pace and were forced into bringing him down several times in quick succession.

After Kalvin Phillips became the latest player in white to be penalised, the free-kick found Mateta on the edge of the box but his looping header was straight into the arms of Meslier.

Half-time ticked closer and Palace couldn’t find the decisive moment to reward their dominance with a goal.

An increasingly fractious atmosphere developed as the referee tried to keep control of the game, with Zaha and then Joel Ward brought down by late challenges.

Leeds emerged after the break with more attacking intent and within 30 seconds of the restart Raphinha had cut inside and fired goalwards, his shot blocked behind.

With Palace frustration growing at a series of curious refereeing decisions, there was a danger that the game might descend into a scrappy affair, but still the Eagles pushed forwards.

Zaha was finding space as the game became more open, and very nearly found Gallagher in space as they poured forwards on the break.

Ayling couldn’t handle the pace of offered by the Ivorian, and was left grasping at thin air as Zaha span away from him and drive into space, picking out Mateta in the area only for the Palace forward to fire over the crossbar.

Moments later he went alone, cutting inside and forcing Meslier into a smart save.

The pressure was building on the visitors – particularly after the introduction of Michael Olise – and Gallagher’s effort on the turn couldn’t find its way through a sea of bodies in the six-yard-box.

Ward and Gallagher were the next to test themselves from distance, both shots just a whisker away.

From the next attack Zaha very nearly forced his way through, forcing Meslier into a stunning double save to deny him at the near post.

It was one-way traffic for the final few minutes of normal time, and Gallagher again tested Meslier before a late penalty shout was dismissed by the referee.

In added time the Holmesdale thought Palace had found the breakthrough, as Zaha's effort was deflected agonisingly over the top.

However the Eagles couldn't find the breakthrough, and despite a wholly dominant display on the ball, it finished a frustrating night in south London.

Palace: Guaita (GK), Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Ward, McArthur, Gallagher, Eze (Schlupp, 78), Ayew (Olise, 67), Mateta (Benteke, 84), Zaha.

Subs not used: Butland, Tomkins, Kouyaté, Hughes, Edouard, Kelly.

Leeds: Meslier (GK), Ayling, Cooper, Raphinha, Llorente, Dallas, Rodrigo (Gelhardt, 74), James (Greenwood, 59), Harrison, Phillips, Klich (Koch, HT).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Firpo, Stuijk, Bate, Cresswell, Kenneh.