Stephy Mavididi

Leeds Take The Points At Elland Road

Leicester City were beaten 3-1 by Leeds United at Elland Road in a dramatic top-of-the-table encounter in the Sky Bet Championship on Friday night.

A Wout Faes header put the Foxes into a deserved lead in Yorkshire after 15 minutes and Enzo Maresca's men were good value for their advantage deep into the game. City had a goal disallowed for offside when one up too, although there was debate over that decision, as the visitors also spurned a series of chances to take all three points. A quick-fire double from Connor Roberts and Archie Gray, inside the final 10 minutes, flipped the match on its head. Dan James' free-kick deflected off Patrick Bamford in injury time to add a touch of gloss to the scoreline for the home side. It's a result which sees City's gap at the top of the table cut to six points, with Leeds now hoping to carve out a lead of their own in the automatic promotion places.

The season is hurtling towards what is inevitably going to be a thrilling finale in the second tier. Four teams – Leicester, Leeds, Ipswich Town and Southampton – are all right in contention for promotion, but four sides don't fit into two automatic places. The Foxes have been the most consistent outfit so far this term and lead the stats charts which truly matter, although naturally they may be inclined to look over their shoulders. The same bump in the road which tripped them up in the first half of the season – facing Leeds and Middlesbrough – has done so again now. Their response the first time was to win eight of 10 matches over Christmas and Maresca will be hoping for a similar reaction with just 12 matches of the campaign to go. 

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Wout Faes

Wout Faes put City ahead in the game but it got away from them late on.

Elland Road was bouncing as the two teams emerged from the tunnel for this Friday Night Football bout. One change from last weekend's loss to Boro saw Hamza Choudhury come into the XI for Dennis Praet, facilitating Ricardo Pereira’s move into midfield. Daniel Farke’s men tried to put the pedal down from the off. A powerful defensive header from Jannik Vestergaard was necessary for the visitors early on, while Joël Piroe curled over after good flank play from Leeds. There were long-range sighters inside the opening 10 minutes for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Abdul Fatawu and Harry Winks too, but none put goalkeeper Illan Meslier to the test. Ricardo’s header, applied to Stephy Mavididi’s cross from the left channel, was the French shot-stopper's first piece of work of the night.

Meslier also stretched his left arm to tip Patson Daka’s drive over the bar shortly afterwards. Leicester were settling into it in Yorkshire. A 15th-minute corner offered them another route to goal, whipped in towards the near post by Dewsbury-Hall. Daka’s flicked header diverted the ball towards the far corner, where Faes was waiting. Gray, the great nephew of Leeds legend Eddie Gray, couldn’t get there – but Faes could, nodding it beyond Meslier. Elland Road fell silent for a brief moment, but for the roar of 2,910 members of the Blue Army tucked away in the opposite corner.

Despite topping the table for much of the season so far, City found themselves billed as underdogs before kick-off. Leeds winning eight on the bounce beforehand was one of the reasons why. It was chaotic at times. A heavy touch from Wilfried Gnonto in Leicester’s box ended one foray forward for the in-form hosts. Piroe also blazed another decent opportunity wide. Vestergaard, meanwhile, heroically slid in to halt Crysencio Summerville’s route to goal midway through the half. It felt on the edge, but the Foxes were coping well. Choudhury’s last-ditch tackle on Georginio Rutter prevented the attacker from putting Mads Hermansen to work for the first time just before the interval. A high-stakes second half awaited.

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Jannik Vestergaard

Jannik Vestergaard and his team-mates react to the events of the latter moments.

Leicester, in truth, were on top for much of the second half. One particular move cut Farke’s hosts open as Meslier palmed Mavididi’s stinger behind for a corner. They had the ball in the net as well. Vestergaard’s header pinged off the upright, but Daka was in an offside position when he latched onto a loose ball in the area. The officials deemed Choudhury, not Rutter, to have got the final touch beforehand. That debate is one which rumbled away on social media, but the discussions wouldn't change the decision. The league leaders were finding pockets of space they didn’t expect to, but they couldn’t kill the game off. Mavididi was being played through time after time on the left. His final breakaway, on 63 minutes, took him away from his man, but his shot flew wide of the far post.

Leeds needed a spark and they hoped it would be the introduction of Bamford, who did get their first shot on target, rifling it straight at Hermansen from 20 yards out. Another precious, huge Leicester chance was missed with 17 minutes to play. Ricardo won the ball and burst down the centre. The Portuguese waited for the right time to play in Daka. The Zambian, though, scuffed wide. The visitors ultimately paid the price for not scoring a second. On 80 minutes, the ball was bouncing around in the area and it landed at the feet of another second-half substitute, Roberts, who just needed to prod it through the bodies and into the bottom corner. Three minutes later, Gray's hit deflected off Choudhury and then Faes – and Hermansen could do nothing to stop it bouncing over the line. It got worse for the Foxes, too, when James belted his added-time free-kick through the wall, a deflection once again giving Hermansen little options to stop its path to goal. Still top, Leicester lead by six, but know there's work to do as the season's run-in gathers pace.

Leicester City Crest





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