Match Report: Leeds United 1-2 Sheffield United: Whites beaten by brawny Blades
Saturday, 28th Oct 2017 11:23 by @LucasMonk_
In a televised Yorkshire derby, Leeds United succumbed to a deserved 2-1 defeat at home to Sheffield United last night as goals from former Leeds forward Billy Sharp and substitute David Brooks secured a merited victory for the powerful Blades.
Last night, Leeds United had inflicted upon them the wound of a second defeat to a Yorkshire rival this season. Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen had elected to make nine alterations to the team that took to the field against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night, with Andy Lonergan, Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Samuel Sáiz among those to return to the starting lineup.
Opponents Sheffield United, who have served to surprise many an observer with a number of enthralling performances since returning to the Championship, raced into an early lead through Billy Sharp, who headed home from close proximity in the second minute of the match after Mark Duffy’s delivery to the back post following a throw-in.
The Blades would not relent in their exertion of attacking pressure, and they would be presented with an opportunity to double their advantage in the 26th minute. After defender Matthew Pennington, who is on loan at Elland Road from Everton, carelessly relinquished possession to Leon Clarke in his own half, home ‘keeper Andy Lonergan was drawn into an attentive save to deny Sharp a second goal from close range after Clarke’s low ball into the penalty area.
Leeds would restore parity in the game’s 34th minute - though it could plausibly have been argued that Kalvin Phillips’ fifth goal of a productive campaign came against the run of play. Following a left-footed, right wing delivery into the penalty area by Samu Sáiz that was headed only as far as Phillips, the midfielder, at the first time of asking, struck a sumptuous volley into the back of the net from the edge of the box.
The visitors, though, most certainly would have established a slender lead once more if not for the presence of Lonergan in the home net. A minute before the half-time interval, and the former Preston North End shot-stopper had elicited from him another fantastic save to deny Sharp a second goal of the match. After Leon Clarke had been felled in the Leeds half, the ensuing free-kick was taken briskly and Sharp had beaten the offside trap.
Following the interval, Samu Sáiz was desperately unfortuitous not to have scored his ninth goal in all competitions and his side’s second of the match. In the 57th minute, the Spaniard, after receiving possession from Ronaldo Vieira, turned on a sixpence and let fly from outside the penalty area, only to see his venomous left-footed strike crash against the aluminium of the right-hand post.
11 minutes elapsed before Sáiz would involved in a notable phase of play once more after the visitors ceded possession in the middle of the park. On this occasion, he played a lofted ball to the back post for Ezgjan Alioski from the left; the ball eluded the Sheffield United defenders and although Alioski connected with the ball, his headed effort lacked conviction and was saved comfortably by Blades ‘keeper Jamal Blackman.
With the game’s conclusion fast approaching and both sides displaying an alacrity to find a winning goal, Mark Duffy played a splitting through ball into the path of substitute David Brooks - and the latter’s guided, left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner on 81 minutes proved a decisive blow.
In response, Leeds committed greater numbers forward in attack - the youthful Dutch striker Jay-Roy Grot replaced Vurnon Anita - but the visitors resolutely negotiated the remainder of the match without permitting the hosts a single clear-cut opportunity to equalise.
The result means that Leeds have ceded crucial ground to several play-off rivals, with Aston Villa, Norwich City, Bristol City and Preston North End poised to supersede the Whites in the table with victories today.
Leeds United (4-3-3) - Lonergan; Ayling, Pennington, Cooper (Jansson 56’), Anita (Grot 83’); Vieira, Phillips, O’Kane; Alioski (Hernández 70’), Lasogga, Sáiz.
Unused Substitutes: Wiedwald, Shaughnessy, Roofe, Dallas.
Sheffield United (3-5-2) - Blackman; Basham, Carter-Vickers, O’Connell; Baldock, Coutts, Duffy (Lundstram 86’), Fleck, Stevens; Clarke, Sharp (Brooks 76’).
Unused Substitutes: Moore, Wright, Lafferty, Carruthers, Donaldson.
Half-Time: Leeds United 1-1 Sheffield United - Phillips 34’
Full-Time: Leeds United 1-2 Sheffield United - Phillips 34’
Match Statistics (Leeds / Sheffield U)
Possession: 51% / 49%
Attempts: 8 / 12
On Target: 2 / 6
Pass Success: 64% / 68%
Aerial Duels: 40% / 60%
Corners: 0 / 5
Fouls: 9 / 18
Man of the Match: Mark Duffy (Sheffield U).
The 32-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder assisted both Sheffield United goals, won all three of the aerial duels he contested and made four tackles - playing an instrumental role in his team’s victory.
Booked: Phillips, Vieira (Leeds). O’Connell, Baldock, Coutts, Fleck, Stevens, Clarke (Sheffield U).
Venue: Elland Road (37,890 capacity).
Referee: Scott Duncan.
A sorrowful defeat. Though Leeds were not as pusillanimous as had been the case against Reading two weeks previously, Sheffield United were more powerful and robust in the tackle and, physically, they dominated their opponents.
Leeds all too frequently conceded possession in perilous positions, particularly in the first period, and by the time Kalvin Phillips scored an excellent goal to restore parity after Billy Sharp had headed the Blades into the lead, Thomas Christiansen’s charges were fortunate not to have been trailing by a greater margin. Andy Lonergan deserves much credit for his performance in goal.
In the second-half, Leeds did improve and were rather unfortunate not to have taken the lead through Sáiz’s rasping left-footed drive in the 57th minute, but it cannot be said that the visitors’ 81st-minute winner was not merited. As the statistics make plain, though their performance was by no means execrable, Leeds were defeated by a superior team.
Focus shifts swiftly to Tuesday’s match against Derby County at Elland Road - a fixture in which Leeds sorely need a victory after two home defeats in succession.
Photo: Action Images
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