Leeds United 2-0 Crystal Palace
Leeds United climbed into the top half of the Premier League table tonight, thanks to a confident win over Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.
When the fixture list threw up Leeds vs Crystal Palace to finish this round of top-flight games, we expected to see off the weekend with an attack-minded clash, and we got it from the off when Leeds winger Jack Harrsion scored inside three minutes.
Top scorer Patrick Bamford doubled the lead just after the break and the sorry Eagles had no reply.
Both sides have been in good form recently and have pretty much erased any lingering fears of a relegation struggle. There is still a little work to be done, not least to climb the table and finish as high as they possibly can. A top ten finish is the aim, and Leeds have that position now in their possession. After back-to-back victories, this setback leaves Palace in 13th.
The Premier League 2021 betting odds had the hosts at 1.74 and Marcelo Bielsa’s side were full value for their victory.
Highlights of the game
Jack Harrison, in his third consecutive year on loan to Leeds from Manchester City, is having quite a season. When he drifted infield to collect a ball in an early Leeds attack, he had time and space to shoot and score his sixth goal of the campaign. He had some help from a wicked deflection to beat Vicente Guaita, but he had done all he needed to cause panic in the Palace defence.
The big pre-match Leeds vs Crystal Palace news was that the Eagles’ talisman, Wilfried Zaha, was injured again. So, now they had the chance to prove they are not a one-man team, but they passed it up. Keeper Guaita had the opportunity to show what he can do when Patrick Bamford met a cross from Ezgjan Alioski and directed his header down towards the bottom corner, which the Spanish stopper saved brilliantly. And then Palace gave the ball away cheaply to send Bamford clean through on goal, but he chipped his effort way over the bar.
Leeds continued to dominate and should have doubled their lead just before the break when Kalvin Phillips crossed for Pascal Struijk, but the Dutch defender got his header all wrong and directed it well wide with the goal at his mercy.
It had been one-way traffic in the first half and Palace came out much the brighter in the second, but any thoughts of a rapid comeback were quickly crushed as Bamford scored his 12th goal of the campaign and the 100th in his career. Raphinha collected a ball from Mateusz Klich and fired a snapshot which Guaita parried into the path of Bamford who stroked the ball home.
Palace had a great chance to get back into the game, midway through the second half when Michy Batshuayi chased a lost cause and then left Luke Ayling for dead before pulling the ball back for Eberechi Eze, but he fired his effort well over.
It could have got worse for Palace when Nathanial Clyne needlessly gave the ball away and Gary Cahill left Harrison enough room to shoot, but this time he was denied by the crossbar.
Leeds were unlucky to lose last week to Everton, and they made up for it tonight with a convincing display to see off the Eagles. They dominated possession and won the shot count by 17 to seven, with seven on target to the visitors’ two.
Palace lost the opportunity to make it three wins on the bounce and they are also winless in their last nine Monday night games, losing seven and drawing two.
The Whites are unbeaten at home to the Eagles in six games and Jack Harrison’s strike, clocked at 2 minutes and 35 seconds, was Leeds’ fastest Premier League goal since 2004.
The great games keep on coming for Bielsa’s Leeds and they are involved in a classic on Sunday when they visit the Emirates to play Arsenal, a game we’ll be previewing and then covering here at SBOTOP, before the Whites head to the West Midlands to face Wolves the following week.
Meanwhile, Palace host Burnley next weekend. They lost the return fixture at Turf Moor earlier in the season when Zaha was out injured and Hodgson will hope his main man will return to fitness sooner rather than later. After the visit of the Clarets, Palace have a meeting with their old rivals Brighton on another Monday, the 22nd.
Could it be tenth time lucky for Roy’s boys?
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