Leeds United 1-0 Crystal Palace - Raphinha last-gasp penalty secures Marcelo Bielsa’s side precious win
Premier League, Elland Road - Leeds United 1 (Raphinha 90'(p.)) Crystal Palace 0
: Raphinha of Leeds United celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace at Elland Road on November 30, 2021 in Leeds, England
Leeds have found goals hard to come by this season – certainly much more difficult than last – and barely created an opportunity of note in the opening 45 minutes, despite their lively start. Adam Forshaw came closest with a snapshot that rolled just wide.
Palace grew into the game and posed a threat on the counter-attack. They may have had a penalty when Jordan Ayew was bundled over by Patrick Struijk but the referee Kevin Friend was unmoved.
Firpo Junior and Rodrigo were introduced at the break as Bielsa attempted to add some impetus to his side after the restart. The latter was played through on goal by Daniel James not long after his introduction but took a heavy touch and squandered the opportunity.
The hosts had the lion’s share of the possession in the second half but without their talisman Patrick Bamford lacked a killer instinct in the final third.
And they were left to count their lucky stars not to fall behind when the unmarked substitute Christian Benteke headed wide from just a few yards out.
When the Belgian found the target a moment later, sticking out a left boot to meet a cross, goalkeeper Illan Meslier scampered back to prevent it from crossing the line.
But just when the game looked destined to end as a stalemate, Marc Guehi handled Raphinha’s corner delivery and the referee awarded the penalty after watching the replay on the monitor. The Brazilian showed nerves of steel, sending Vicente Guaita the wrong way to score and send the home fans wild.
All three points lifts Leeds up to 15th, a point below 12th-placed Crystal Palace.
An incredible night at Elland Road – one which Bielsa will hope will be a turning point in their season.
It looked like it was going to be the same old story for Leeds, who showed glimpses of their quality and played with intensity but ultimately did not have the quality to break down their opponents.
Injuries have played their part in their woes and the absence of Bamford has particularly hurt. Without the 28-year-old, they are lacking a focal point. Tyler Roberts led the line tonight and was virtually anonymous. But in Raphinha they have a genuinely top class player and when he’s on the pitch Leeds are always capable of delivering something.
It was important Leeds got points on the board - after Brentford on Sunday, they face successive matches against Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Raphinha (Leeds)
If anyone was going to produce something special, it was Raphinha. The 24-year-old continued to catch the imagination and he will have plenty of suitors if he decides to push for a move in January.
Leeds: Meslier 7, Cooper 6, Llorente 6, Phillips 7, Struijk 6, Klich 5, Forshaw 6, Raphinha 8*, Dallas 7, James 6, Roberts 5.. subs: Firpo 6, Rodrigo 6, Cresswell N/A.
Tyler Roberts of Leeds United controls the ball whilst under pressure from Joel Ward of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace at Elland Road on November 30, 2021 in Leeds, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
18’ - No penalty! Ayew gets the wrong side of Struijk as he races into the penalty area before the Palace forward goes to ground. Was that a shove? Should that be a penalty? The referee isn't convinced and neither is VAR. Play on!
74’ - How does Benteke miss?! After Gallagher's shot is blocked, Zaha stands up a cross to the far post where Benteke is marked. But from just a few yards out the Belgian fails to hit the target! Palace ought to be ahead!
81’ - So close! Palace almost score on the break - but Meslier comes to Leeds' rescue. Benteke sticks out a left boot as a cross comes into the box and the goalkeeper has to be alert to keep it from crossing the line!
90’+1 - Penalty to Leeds! Raphinha's corner delivery hits the hand of Guehi, Leeds appeal strongly for a penalty and Kevin Friend is going to the monitor! The penalty is given! Leeds have a golden opportunity to win the game very late on...
90’+4 - GOAL! Leeds 1-0 Crystal Palaxce (Raphinha, pen): Cool as you like, Raphinha hammers it into the corner, wrong-footing the goalkeeper.
Leeds have successfully converted each of their last 15 Premier League penalties, since Alan Smith failed to score from the spot against Blackburn in September 2002.