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Report: Leeds penalty edges Palace in dying minutes after near-stalemate

Leeds United
1
Raphinha 90+4'
0
Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace and Leeds United played a tight game at Elland Road in which both sides demonstrated their quality and intent without truly unnerving the other on Tuesday night. However, with two minutes of added time remaining Leeds claimed victory through a Raphina penalty to end a game replete with action but almost no other defining moments.

Summary

  • Patrick Vieira makes three changes from the side which kicked-off against Aston Villa

  • Leeds enjoy the strongest start as Palace see calls for a penalty waved away

  • The first 45 minutes are a quiet affair, with neither side creating a serious chance. Instead, the game is filled with fast passing, some strong tackles and attacking intent without yielding an opportunity

  • Half-time: Leeds United 0-0 Crystal Palace

  • Leeds make two substitutions at half-time: Rodrigo and Junior Firpo taking to the field

  • Rodrigo is handed a clear chance by Daniel James, however the Brazilian is unable to turn home from yards out

  • Christian Benteke is substituted on and narrowly misses a header at the far post

  • Will Hughes makes his Palace debut as a substitute in the 80th-minute

  • Kevin Friend awards a penalty after review which Raphina converts

  • Full-time: Leeds United 1-0 Crystal Palace

Leeds began the brightest in a largely quiet opening 10 minutes with both sides having played just days before this clash at Elland Road. Palace enjoyed promising flashes in which the front three worked well, but the hosts created most of the tame early opportunities.

Home chances came through Stuart Dallas and Adam Forshaw, with the former squaring and the latter shooting – both from the right and both without the intended effect.

However United weren’t the only team to watch an encouraging moment fail to yield the desired outcome when Jordan Ayew hit the penalty box turf under pressure from Pascal Struijk. The Leeds No.21 had hands on the Ghanaian’s back but, despite protests from players, referee Kevin Friend and later VAR found no cause to award a penalty.

The first 45 minutes were largely filled with enticing exchanges hard to describe in plain English; the ball spent much of the time 30 yards from goal or deep down the wings, being moved with speed and intent only to change hands or run out of play. Supporters weren’t sent to their feet early in the drizzly Yorkshire evening, but it wasn’t for the want of trying.

This was a clash between one team keen to play the ball swiftly and build from the back and another comfortable with high-pressing in which defence began on the edge of the opposition box.

Half-time came without much of note to discuss, but it didn’t guarantee an equally dormant attacking display in the second-half, given much of Palace’s success this season has come after the break.

As supporters sheltered from the elements, they were perhaps left to reflect on a game impeded by its conditions: damp, 200 miles from home and midweek after draining Saturday matches for both sides.

Leeds made a double change at half-time in a bid to alter the game’s complexion - and came close to achieving just that in the 52nd-minute. Daniel James brought down a raking cross-field ball on the left of the box and squared to Rodrigo who, with only Vicente Guaita to beat eight yards from goal, allowed his momentum to run the cross behind goal.

But Palace were denied a sigh of relief as the chance – which came from very little – inspired a dominant spell for the hosts much like the game’s earliest moments.

Forshaw struck a shot off Marc Guéhi’s thigh into Guaita’s gloves and Kalvin Phillips saw an attempt from 20 yards blocked by the visiting defence.

By 70 minutes however it became clear the second-half was progressing much like the first: plenty of challenges, fouls, tense surges forwards and half-chances, but no defining moments to separate – or come close to separating – the two teams.

Palace sought to address this during a strong spell 75 minutes in, pressing well and carrying the ball great distances with speed. When Wilfried Zaha hung up a ball to the far post, Christian Benteke came within inches of taking the lead as he powered a header downward, but his towering effort went wide.

If that chance to add Benteke’s fifth this season was a trademark one, the next was far less conventional. Ayew collected the ball after a seemingly dead attack and drove it into the box. Under pressure, Benteke stuck out a leg with the pass flying away from him, connected with the tip of his boot and sent it past Illan Meslier.

The ‘keeper was beaten and wrong footed, but turned with speed and ran back towards goal, leaping onto the ball as it began to cross the line.

Neither effort - conventional or otherwise - was enough to break a game that seemed deadlocked from kick-off. In the third of three from five minutes of added time, however, that finally changed when Liam Cooper thudded a header against Guéhi's hand in the box.

After an on-field review, Friend pointed to the spot and teed-up another late heartbreak for Palace. Raphina was the man tasked with stealing three points at the death and, after a staggered run, did so low into the right-hand corner.

Quality football and determination may have found joy on another day, but tonight, good fortune became the one factor which narrowly, eventually, split Crystal Palace and Leeds.

Leeds: Meslier, Phillips, Llorente, Cooper, Forshaw, Dallas, Raphinha, Roberts (Cresswell 90+5), Struijk (Firpo 45), Klich (Rodrigo 45), James.

Subs not used: Klaesson, Harrison, Gelhardt, Summerville, Shackleton, Jenkins.

Palace: Guaita, Ward, Mitchell, Tomkins, Guéhi, Kouyaté, Gallagher, Schlupp (Hughes 80), Ayew (Olise 90), Zaha, Edouard (Benteke 67).

Subs not used: Butland, Kelly, Clyne, Riedewald, Milivojevic, Eze.