Leeds run riot in closing stages to see off Newcastle

Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison struck in the final quarter of an hour as Leeds leapfrogged opponents Newcastle in the Premier League table following an entertaining 5-2 victory.

The visitors went ahead against the run of play midway through the first half through Jeff Hendrick, but goals either side of the interval from Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo turned the game on its head.

Ciaran Clark levelled soon after Rodrigo’s goal, but Dallas restored Leeds’ advantage, while swift counter-attacks led to Alioski and Harrison getting on the scoresheet – the latter finding the top corner from 25 yards.

Leeds drew a line under back-to-back defeats – but their weaknesses at set-pieces were once again laid bare – while Newcastle were denied a third successive win for the first time since November 2018.

This was the first top-flight meeting between the clubs since January 2004, while Leeds had not beaten their opponents at Elland Road since September 1999, but they were well worth the three points here.

While they were unchanged from the side beaten by West Ham, Steve Bruce made four changes to a Newcastle side still without several players because of coronavirus – although Ryan Fraser made his first start since the start of last month.

They made a purposeful start, with Isaac Hayden’s cross-shot briefly panicking backpedalling Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier before settling on the roof of the net, but the hosts gradually got on top.

Leeds United v Newcastle United – Premier League – Elland Road
Leeds United v Newcastle United – Premier League – Elland Road

Alioski and Harrison linked up well, leaving Jacob Murphy exposed down Newcastle’s right-hand side, but a number of teasing crosses into the area were missing the final touch.

Liam Cooper rose highest at the far post from a corner but Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow dived to his left to save before Fraser served notice of the visitors’ intent, forcing Meslier to parry away a curling effort.

Fraser then provided a cross which was flicked on by fellow summer signing Callum Wilson and turned in by Hendrick, another recent arrival at St James’ Park.

Leeds responded well to conceding in the 25th minute with Rodrigo’s ball into the area just evading Raphinha, whose powerful left-foot volley moments later through a crowd of bodies was instinctively pushed away by Darlow.

Leeds United v Newcastle United – Premier League – Elland Road
Leeds United v Newcastle United – Premier League – Elland Road

But Leeds would not be denied. The influential Raphinha’s cross was met by the equally impressive Rodrigo, whose header looped over a despairing Darlow and onto the crossbar, leaving Bamford with a simple finish in the 35th minute.

Newcastle regrouped at the interval, although their appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, even though Cooper seemed to make no contact with the ball before bringing down Wilson with a crunching challenge from behind.

The Magpies were becoming increasingly sloppy in possession, inviting pressure from Leeds, who went ahead for the first time in the 61st minute when Harrison’s left-wing cross was met by a bullet header from Rodrigo.

Darlow was helpless as the ball nestled in the far corner but the goal drew a reaction from Newcastle, with Wilson’s strike forcing Meslier into a fingertip save, after which Leeds’ set-piece problems were exposed again.


— Leeds United (@LUFC) December 16, 2020

Fraser’s corner to the back post saw Clark get above his marker to head beyond Meslier at the far post in the 65th minute – the eighth goal Leeds have conceded from set-pieces this season.

But the seesaw nature of the game continued as Sean Longstaff was punished for dithering on the ball in the area. Mateusz Klich’s ball from the left bounced over Jamal Lewis and was headed in at the back post by Dallas.

Newcastle were then twice caught on the counter. First, Leeds burst upfield from a Newcastle corner and the composed Alioski finished well in the 85th minute.

Another Newcastle corner led to Leeds charging upfield once again, with Harrison superbly finding the top corner with a left-foot effort from outside the area.