Connect with us

Leeds United

5 decisive games in Leeds United’s season

Once among the country’s top teams, Leeds United have been one of English football’s most fascinating clubs over the years.

After their relegation from the Premier League in 2004, it took them 16 years to return to the top-flight.

Their first season back was a successful one, finishing in ninth place, but their second saw them survive by the skin of their teeth.

Unfortunately, they were not able to improve on last season’s performance, and a final day defeat sealed their return to the Championship.

Here are five games that defined their season.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Leeds United

Given their plight, it’s easy to forget the strong start that Leeds made to the season. In their first three outings, they picked up seven points, including an impressive 3-0 victory over Chelsea.

Their unbeaten run came to an end in their fourth game, falling to a 1-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium. Pascal Gross’ finish was the difference, finding the far corner from Leandro Trossard’s lay-off.

The Yorkshire side would have considered themselves unlucky not to have taken more from the game, as they let several big chances go begging.

Luis Sinisterra somehow put wide from point blank range, while Diego Llorente missed the target with a free header from six yards out.

The defeat kicked off a nightmare run for Leeds. From their next seven matches, they accumulated just two points.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds United

Replacing a popular manager is always a difficult task. When Jesse Marsch took over from Marcelo Bielsa in February 2022, he had enormous shoes to fill.

The decision to dismiss Bielsa wasn’t met with much approval from the Elland Road crowd, who never took to Marsch as a result. The American struggled to get the support of the fans, even after their survival last season.

His reign came to an end just under a year after taking over, following a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest. Brennan Johnson was the match winner, firing in a powerful half-volley in the first half.

Luis Sinisterra, Luke Ayling and Wilfried Gnonto were all guilty of spurning promising chances, but the equaliser never came. Marsch was sacked the following day, having taken just 11 points from his previous 17 league games.

Leeds United 1-5 Crystal Palace

The appointment of Javi Gracia initially brought about an upturn in form. From his first six games in charge, the Spaniard collected ten points.

This momentum was brought to a very sudden halt with the visit of Crystal Palace. The Eagles had won just one from their previous 13, but gave the performance of a side ten points clear at the top of the league.

Things began well for the home side, taking the lead when Patrick Bamford headed in from Brendan Aaronson’s corner. Their lead lasted until the stroke of half time, when Marc Guehi bundled in an equaliser from a set piece.

After the break, Roy Hodgson’s men took control and strolled to a resounding victory. It began with two quickfire goals at the start of the second half, first through Jordan Ayew’s header and then via Eberechi Eze’s poked finish.

As Leeds looked for a way back into the game, Crystal Palace punished them on the break. Michael Olise grabbed his third assist of the afternoon, setting up Odsonne Edouard. And a fine display was capped off in the closing stages when Ayew got his second.

This was a damaging result to Leeds, who never seemed to recover. They followed this up with a 6-1 home loss to Liverpool, and didn’t win a single game for the rest of the season.

Bournemouth 4-1 Leeds United

With five games remaining, Leeds sat outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone. And with fixtures against Manchester City and Newcastle United coming up, a trip to Bournemouth seemed favourable if they wished to get some more points on the board.

But the performance from the away side was pitiful, as they were comfortably beaten. Jefferson Lerma set the tone early on, emphatically finishing on two occasions to give the Cherries a commanding lead.

First, the Colombian brilliantly bent one into the far corner after Philip Billing’s shot had been blocked. Shortly afterwards, he capitalised on a spill by Illan Meslier and slammed into the roof of the net from close range.

There was some joy for Javi Gracia’s men a few minutes later, when Patrick Bamford headed in from Wilfried Gnonto’s cross. But this was cancelled out in the second half when Dominic Solanke scored to restore Bournemouth’s two-goal advantage.

Another Meslier mistake gifted Bournemouth a fourth in injury time. Antoine Semenyo’s shot squirmed under the Frenchman, making it 4-1.

This was Leeds’ fourth defeat in five, conceding 18 goals in that time. This proved to be Gracia’s final game in charge, with Sam Allardyce replacing him.

Leeds United 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur

It’s the final game of the season. Leeds know that anything less than three points will seal their relegation. Even then, this might not be enough. It’s time for heroes to be made.

Or maybe not. Just two minutes into the game, they went 1-0 down. Heung-min Son slipped a ball through to Harry Kane, who placed into the top corner.

Despite the setback, Leeds pushed for an equaliser. Robin Koch missed the target with two headers, and Rasmus Kristensen failed to keep a close range effort down. If they maintained the pressure going into the second half, they could turn things around.

But that was not the case. Just as they did in the first half, they conceded two minutes after the break. This time, it was Pedro Porro with a brilliant finish into the far corner.

Jack Harrison restored some hope, finding the bottom corner with a powerful attempt. But for the third time, the hosts conceded two minutes after kick off. Kane was the beneficiary again, scoring from Porro’s pass.

By this point, Sam Allardyce’s team knew they were relegation certainties. This was reflected in their half-hearted attempts to deny Lucas Moura a sentimental solo goal on his final appearance for Tottenham Hotspur.

You could argue that the result meant nothing. Even if they had won, Everton’s victory meant that they would have been relegated anyway. But the manner of the defeat was nothing short of shameful.

More in Leeds United