Leeds United moved into the top half of the Premier League with a convincing 2-0 win over Crystal Palace thanks to goals from Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford.
Leeds took the lead in just the third minute when Harrison’s shot from the edge of the box beat Vicente Guaita via a deflection off Gary Cahill.
And the home side should have extended their advantage in a one-sided opening 45 minutes, as Bamford wasted a couple of great chances and Pascal Struijk headed inexplicably wide when unmarked from point-blank range.
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Marcelo Bielsa’s side did add to their lead shortly after the break when Bamford tucked home a rebound after Raphinha’s shot on the counter-attack was blocked - the centre-forward’s hundredth league goal of his career. And Leeds remained the better side throughout the second half, with Harrison going close to his second of the night late on with an effort that cannoned off the bar.
Palace severely missed the creative influence of the injured Wilfried Zaha and have now lost all four of their Premier League matches without him this season. And Roy Hodgson’s visitors failed to carve out much in the way of consistent threat, despite the introduction of Michy Batshuayi and Christian Benteke as a two-pronged strike force during the second half.
TALKING POINT – How can Palace make the most of Eze?
Eberechi Eze was the only Palace player who troubled Leeds on the night, but the 22-year-old Londoner still wasn’t able to turn his glimmers of class into consistent threat in the final third.
Hodgson tried him on the right in the first-half and moved him into his more familiar role on the left in the second, but in neither role did Eze really get the opportunity to get on the ball in areas to really hurt Leeds. His lack of defensive shielding also left Leeds with so much space in which to isolate the full-backs too, perhaps a further reason why he’s not the ideal player to play as a wide man in a midfield four.
Eze’s talent and potential is huge and he could become a huge Premier League star, but at this stage it’s just not quite right.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Raphinha (Leeds United)
The Brazilian attacker pulled the strings all night for Leeds, constantly drifting into dangerous pockets of space as Palace completely failed to deal with his clever moment. It was his run and shot that led to Bamford’s second-half goal, and only some poor finishing from his team-mates stopped Raphinha’s influence from being more obvious.
The 24-year-old wasn’t the only excellent player on the night for Leeds (Kalvin Phillips was quietly excellent again), but Palace never really got a hold on Raphinha all evening.
Leeds United: Meslier 6; Ayling 7, Cooper 7, Struijk 5, Alioski 6; Phillips 8; Raphinha 8, Dallas 7, Klich 7, Harrison 7; Bamford 6. Subs: Shackleton 6
Crystal Palace: Guaita 6; Van Aanholt 6, Dann 6, Cahill 6, Clyne 6; Mitchell 5, Milivojevic 5, Riedewald 5; Ayew 4; Eze 6, Mateta 4. Subs: Townsend 6, Batshuayi 6, Benteke 6
3’ GOAL! Leeds 1-0 Crystal Palace (Harrison): Leeds have an early lead and it’s Jack Harrison who’s got it. The hosts win the ball back high and Harrison is left in acres of space on the edge of the box. His shot takes a deflection, but Palace pay the price for giving him so much time. 1-0!
21’– Palace gift the ball to Bamford and he storms towards goal as it opens up ahead of him. The Leeds striker makes it all the way into the box without a challenge and has time for a shot, but he balloons it horribly over the bar. Should be 2-0.
43’ – How on earth has Struijk missed that! A cross into the Palace box finds the centre-back totally unmarked and just six yards out, but he somehow heads wide when it would have been easier to score. What a horrible miss! Will Leeds come to regret not putting this game to bed?
52’ GOAL! Leeds 2-0 Crystal Palace (Bamford): Leeds make it two and it’s Patrick Bamford who’s got it. Again Leeds win the ball high up the pitch and Raphinha makes a superb run in behind the defence before drawing a save out of Guaita. It’s a decent stop, but the ricochet falls to Bamford and he tucks home his 38th Leeds goal and the 100th in his career. 2-0!
59’ – Struijk loses his marker from a corner and should score (again) but makes a complete hash of the chance (again).
84’ – Harrison almost gets his second of the night, but his shot from just inside the box hammers off the bar.
- Bamford’s goal was his 38th in the league for Leeds and the 100th league goal for his career.
- Bamford is also the first English player to score 12 or more goals in a Premier League season for Leeds since Robbie Fowler in 2002.
- Palace have failed to score in 15 of the last 19 games that Wilfried Zaha has missed, and have lost 18 of the last 23 games where he has not featured.
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