Leeds defender Luke Ayling said his side were punished for conceding “two sloppy goals” in their 2-1 home defeat to Everton.
The Whites missed the chance to climb into the Premier League’s top 10 as first-half goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin lifted Everton back up to sixth.
Raphinha maintained his fine form by reducing the deficit early in the second period, but Leeds slipped to a fifth home defeat of the season on their re-laid Elland Road pitch.
Ayling, who held his hands up for Calvert-Lewin’s decisive header just before the break, told Leeds’ official website: “It was two sloppy goals to concede.
“The first goal he (Sigurdsson) was free in the six-yard box, which can’t happen and for the second it’s my man from a corner and I got caught napping, so it was two sloppy goals.”
Leeds hit the woodwork twice through Ezgjan Alioski’s thumping first-half volley and Patrick Bamford’s looping header.
“We came back into it in the second half, we had some great chances and could probably have nicked a draw, but you can’t afford to go two goals down in this league,” Ayling said.
Leeds cranked up the pressure after Raphinha struck his fourth Premier League goal of the season in the 48th minute.
But Everton, dangerous on the counter-attack throughout, held on for a fourth straight league win on the road thanks to some dogged defending and several crucial saves from stand-in goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
“Their goalkeeper made two great saves in 30 seconds, which could have changed the game, so it was just disappointing,” Ayling added.
Olsen, signed on loan from Roma in October, was deputising for Jordan Pickford, who injured his ribs in Saturday’s home defeat to Newcastle.
The Sweden international denied Mateusz Klich and Raphinha in quick succession and produced another crucial save moments later when keeping out Jack Harrison’s effort.
Calvert-Lewin, back on the goal trail after firing blanks in his previous seven league games, said it was “a massive three points” for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
“We want to stay well up there and compete for the top four,” Calvert-Lewin told the club’s official website. “After the last game, we wanted to put it right.”
Everton are four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, but have two games in hand on all their top-six rivals bar leaders Manchester City.
“It is tough,” Calvert-Lewin added. “It’s a grind at times, but that’s why it takes the full team to commit fully to what you’re trying to do.
“The manager demands high standards. We’ll be looking forward to Saturday (at Manchester United) and continuing the momentum.”