Leeds United vs Brighton and Hove Albion. Sky Bet Championship.
Sunday 19 March 2017 18:23, UK
Chris Wood scored a brace to strengthen Leeds' promotion hopes in a 2-0 win over second-place Brighton in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday.
The striker opened the scoring shortly after the hour-mark with a stunning header from close range before adding a second from the spot and his 24th league goal of the season as the match drew to a close.
The win moves Garry Monk's side up to fourth in the league table in their quest to hunt down the top two, as they move to eight points behind Albion.
Goal-scoring opportunities were few and far between, reflective of the sides boasting two of the most solid defences in the league.
In a shaky first half, Leeds had the ball in the back of the net on 20 minutes after some neat link-up play between Liam Bridcutt and Alfonso Pedraza, who teed up Wood to slot home, but only after the flag had been raised for offside.
Kyle Bartley came close to opening the scoring moments later when he evaded his man to rise high and head the ball towards goal from a corner. But he sent his shot wide.
Wood fluffed his lines after 30 minutes when he failed to connect with the ball from a corner, letting slip the first real opportunity to break the deadlock.
At the other end, Robert Green was called upon to produce a stunning save from his own player just moments later when Liam Cooper almost fired the ball into the back of his own net.
Wood almost gave Leeds the lead in the 58th minute when the ball dropped for him inside the Brighton box but David Stockdale was on hand to make the save, pouncing on the ball after Wood snapped at his shot first time.
But the striker took his chance five minutes later when he looped the ball into the far corner following a fine cross from Charlie Taylor.
Chris Hughton's side responded well when Anthony Knockaert released a shot from close range but Green got down low to make the save.
Another good save from Green in the 76th minute kept Leeds at bay when Murray found himself in acres of space in front of goal, unleashing a fierce shot which the 37-year-old keeper showed good reflexes to stop.
After some encouraging spells from both sides, the hosts were gifted a penalty when Fikayo Tomori brought down Souleymane Doukara.
Wood converted brilliantly, rifling the ball straight down the middle to seal victory.
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Leeds boss Garry Monk
"I think it was an excellent performance from ourselves. We were playing an excellent team there. Brighton are having a fantastic season and they're very experienced. They're very good.
"They caused us problems at times and our setup defensively and offensively was very good and we managed to come out on top.
"It's always crucial to get the first goal in these type of games and they are a very dangerous decide. In the end I think for sure we deserved that result.
"We know that we can win games and we can beat anyone in this league and we'll have the same approach for the next eight games."
Brighton boss Chris Hughton
"I think it was always going to be a tight game. We knew that the game would open up in the second half and we were better than we were in the first half. They had three shots on target and so did we, but they scored two goals.
"They obviously had their moments where we didn't.
"We made the changes to open up the game, to give you that little bit more pace upfront. Of course, you've got to have that little bit of quality at the end and of course you've got to be able to score and unfortunately we weren't able to.
"I can tell you now, I didn't know the results of any of today's games before we kicked off and I don't think it makes any difference. We're so used to playing on a Friday night, a Saturday night, a Saturday early, that you have to get used to it and the focus has to be on the focus today."