Leeds United 1 Crystal Palace 5. Capitulation. After a swirling half an hour Leeds ran out of steam and then capitulated in the second half. The defence was shockingly bad in tracking players. The midfield passed to Crystal Palace. Attack become anonymous starved of service.
Leeds went into this match after a strong performance against Nottingham Forest. A number of Leeds players have improved under Gracia – McKennie, Aaronson, Firpo and Roca all putting in strong performances. Rodrigo and Gnonto have to make do with a place on the bench.
A win would have put Leeds five points clear of the drop zone. Instead, they continue to fight for survival. Roy Hodgson returned again to Crystal Palace as yet another manager is sacked in the Premier League this season. Palace are part of the nervous relegation group so points were also vital to them.
An optimistic crowd encouraged by a strong start by Leeds, with a battling midfield, with seven shots on target in the first half. Sinisterra and Aaronson could have scored in the first ten minutes taking advantage of a slow Palace defence. Sinisterra continued to pepper the Palace goal in the first half.
Just when Palace thought they had weathered the early Leeds storm, up popped Bamford. From a set piece Leeds corner Bamford and McKennie switched allowing Bamford a glancing header to across the keeper and in off the far post. This was a special moment for Bamford as he immediately ran half way across the pitch to celebrate with Gracia.
Palace responded with Schlupp unlucky from a near header beating Meslier but hitting the post. Leeds kept attacking with Koch, Struijk, and Harrison also on target, finding gaps in a poor Palace defence – only their keeper kept the score a 1-0.
Palace improved towards the end of half time earning an equaliser from an unnecessary free kick given by Roca.. It was a harsh end to the first half as Leeds have clearly had the opportunities to be three goals ahead.
Second half Capitulation
Palace took control of the second half with pass and move whilst Leeds simply lost the plot. Leeds couldn’t cope with Palace’s crosses into the Leeds box. That fighting spirit from the first half had evaporated. At 3-1 down Gracia’s response is to bring on Rodrigo, Gnonto and Kristensen but with half an hour to go Leeds never got back into their groove.
Leeds looked to attack but got caught on the counter attack with Palace over loading Leeds defence The game fizzled out with Leeds ceding all possession to Palace. Harrison could not make an impact on this game. Bamford was peripheral apart from his header goal.
Gracia has to turn these frailties around to keep Leeds up in the Premier League.
Man of the match: Sinisterra.