Match report from MNF as Leeds move into the top half of the Premier League; goals from Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford seal victory against Crystal Palace; Bamford fires his 100th career goal; win sees Leeds move up to 10th; Palace stay 13th
Tuesday 9 February 2021 07:45, UK
Leeds eased into the top half of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Monday Night Football.
Jack Harrison gave Marcelo Bielsa's side the perfect start as his deflected strike gave them the lead as early as the third minute before Patrick Bamford (52) sealed all three points early in the second half with his 100th career goal.
Victory sees Leeds move above Arsenal, who they face on Sunday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 4.30pm), into 10th.
Meanwhile, Palace, who stay 13th, see their two-game winning run brought to an end at Elland Road.
Leeds were quick out of the blocks and they punished Palace for allowing them too much space on the edge of the penalty area when Harrison's well-struck shot deflected off Gary Cahill to give the home side a third-minute lead.
The hosts were firmly on top and goalkeeper Vicente Guaita had to be alert to keep out Bamford's powerful header from Ezgjan Alioski's cross at his near post.
Leeds: Meslier (7), Ayling (8), Cooper (7), Struijk (6), Alioski (6), Dallas (7), Phillips (7), Klich (8), Raphinha (8), Bamford (7), Harrison (8).
Subs: Shackleton (n/a).
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Clyne (6), Dann (6), Cahill (5), Van Aanholt (5), Mitchell (6), Riedewald (6), Milivojevic (5), Eze (6), Ayew (6), Mateta (6).
Subs: Townsend (7), Batshuayi (6), Benteke (6).
Man of the match: Raphinha.
Bamford had another chance to extend the advantage in the 22nd minute. He knocked the ball past Cahill and burst clear, but he should have done better with the shot, poking the ball high over Guaita's crossbar.
Palace struggled as an attacking force but, Jordan Ayew did manage to get a shot in on goal, which was smartly saved by Illan Meslier.
Leeds should have doubled their advantage before the break, but defender Pascal Struijk headed Raphinha's free-kick over the crossbar and he somehow headed well wide from in front of goal after meeting Kalvin Phillips' cross.
Leeds were quick out of the blocks again in the second half and they extended their lead in the 52nd minute. Raphinha's powerful shot was well saved by Guaita but was on hand to turn home the rebound from eight yards.
Eberechi Eze had a golden opportunity to give Palace a lifeline in the 67th minute but he fired substitute Michy Batshuayi's cutback high over the crossbar.
Stuart Dallas' low drive then forced a great save from Guaita and Harrison's angled effort struck the crossbar as Leeds chased a third goal, but it was a comfortable night for Bielsa and his team as they secured a 10th top-flight win of the season.
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa: "Not having conceded is important. We didn't commit any errors that would facilitate their attack. Our offensive game was good enough to get the two goals and we could have scored some more.
"Scoring at the beginning of the game is always important. We maintained our offensive conduct throughout the game. The most important thing is to show consistency. To have a period of the season where we have consistent results.
On Leeds' re-laid pitch: "The pitch is much better than it was previously. There are a couple of games now where they are adapting to the characteristics of the pitch. In the last game we slipped many times but in this one not as much."
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: "We started both halves badly in terms of the goals we conceded. Both were pretty poor technical errors. You can't afford to go 1-0 down after three or four minutes and then 2-0 down after 50 minutes and come away with a result unless you play outstanding football, but we didn't play outstanding football unfortunately.
"The bottom line for me is we didn't pass the ball anywhere near well enough and we have to accept that we lost to the better team. We were not able to pressurise them like they pressurised us. We are a passing team and when we don't pass the ball well, we fall below our standards."
Sky Sports' Andy Hinchcliffe: "He's playing like he's been in the Premier League for years but tonight is only his 17th appearance. His passing, his movement and his work rate is all brilliant. He really epitomises the Marcelo Bielsa game plan with his quality and his hard work."
Leeds striker Patrick Bamford to Sky Sports:
"The most important thing is getting the three points, but it is nice to get to 100 career goals. It is probably long overdue but nice to get there. I captained myself [in Fantasy Football]. After I missed that one in the first half, I was kicking myself, so I am glad I scored."
"It is good if you are getting talked about, I guess but there are four or five strikers who have not really been involved with England before and they are doing well. It will be interesting to see who does get called up and whoever does will fully deserve it.
"After being out of the league for 16 years it is important for a club like Leeds to get a footing and build from that. This is no more than we've deserved. It bodes well for the future of Leeds."
Leeds forward Jack Harrison to Sky Sports:
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we prepared all week and came out strong. The early goal helped us to play our style of football and keep possession."
Are Leeds looking up the table now? "Definitely. As a team we are very ambitious. We want to keep pushing ourselves."
Leeds are back in action on Sunday when they travel to Arsenal, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace face Burnley at Selhurst Park on Saturday, February 13, also live on Sky Sports; kick-off 3pm.
Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 in Saturday's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3:00pm.