Leeds United stay in pole position after top of table clash with West Brom

Leeds United brought back a point from their top of the table game at West Brom with head coach Marcelo Bielsa happy with his players' efforts.

Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 6:00 am
Patrick Bamford gets a shot in for Leeds United at West Brom. Picture: Tony Johnson

The Whites found themselves trailing within 90 seconds of the start as their inability to deal with set pieces was quick to prove costly against opponents with who they are level on points.

But they went on to ease their way into the match and dominate possession before earning a point with a 52nd minute goal when Patrick Bamford's header found the net off a deflection by Semi Ajayi, who had earlier been West Brom's scorer.

After the game Bielsa admitted a draw had been a just result.

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He said: “I think we should have won the match, but also we could have lost the match.

“How we managed the game was very good, but there were chances in both boxes.

“Maybe our chances were a little more possible and after we built some situations that we couldn’t finish in a chance.

“I am very happy with the match we played, the kind of match we played.

“Two sides played the match, no speculation, without violence and kept within the rules. Nobody wanted to take advantage or use the rules to get an advantage."

Bielsa added: “West Brom are a team with good intentions, they play differently to us, it was a clash of two different styles.

“They have great strikers, we managed the match, but we could not avoid them creating clear chances.”

Bielsa confirmed that on-loan striker Eddie Nketiah would be returning to Arsenal, leaving Leeds with just Bamford as their only fit centre-forward.

Nketiah was given only his second starting role for a league game for United, but struggled to make any sort of impact in the first half and was taken off at the interval, with his replacement, Bamford, having an immediate impact to show why he has so often been preferred to the Gunners man this season.

Problems at the back have beset Leeds in recent games and it did not take long for them to resurface again as the first corner of the game was not dealt with.

Kiko Casilla, who went on to make some fine saves, could only get a weak punch onto the initial cross, two headers were then lost and only Ajayi reacted to a loose ball to score from close range with Jack Harrison's attempted acrobatic clearance unable to prevent the ball from just crossing the line.

Another set piece saw Matt Phillips hit the side netting with a near post shot from a free-kick before United settled to play their possession football and a dangerous Helder Costa cross only just evaded Nketiah.

The hosts had a penalty shout waved away when Mateusz Klich tangled with Romaine Sawyers, but the Whites were looking more dangerous now and Stuart Dallas hit a shot over after being found in space in the area.

West Brom danger man Costa Pereira was well watched by Kalvin Phillips, but managed one shot that required a save from Casilla.

At the other end, Costa's first time effort was saved by home keeper Sam Johnstone.

A controversially awarded free-kick saw Pereira force another save from Casilla then more controversy saw Leeds denied a penalty when Luke Ayling's cross was knocked away by the arm of Conor Townsend.

West Brom missed a great chance to double their lead just before half-time, however, when Phillips went clean through, but could not beat Casilla in a one-on-one with the keeper.

Bielsa made two changes at half-time with Bamford and Barry Douglas brought on for Nketiah and Ezgjan Alioski and there was an instant improvement, leading to the equaliser as Bamford met Harrison's cross and the ball flew into the net off Ajayi.

Bamford had another chance soon after when getting on the end of another Harrison cross, but his near post flick went wide.

The home team responded with Pereira's angled free-kick being turned over by Casilla and Phillips sending a shot over.

Casilla made another good save to keep out Darnell Furlong's flick from a corner.

In an exciting finish both sides came close to a winner as Bamford was played in down the left only to see his shot saved by Johnstone and Kyle Edwards was found in space in the visitors' box, but had his powerful shot tipped over by Casilla.

Match facts

West Bromwich Albion 1

(Ajayi 2)

Leeds United 1

(Ajayi og 52)


Attendance: 25,618

West Brom: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Gibbs (Townsend 18), Sawyers, Livermore, Phillips (Zohore 84), Krovinovic (Edwards 63), Pereira, Robson-Kanu.

Leeds: Casilla, Ayling, White, Cooper, Alioski (Douglas 45), Phillips, Costa, Dallas, Klich, Harrison, Nketiah (Bamford 45).

Referee: Robert Jones