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Match Report: Leeds 1-1 Sunderland - Peacock-Farrell and Pablo ensure spoils shared in dour duel
Sunday, 8th Apr 2018 11:38 by @LucasMonk_

Pablo Hernandez was on hand to send an arching, equalising shot past visiting goalkeeper Lee Camp as Leeds United laboured to a draw at home to relegation threatened Sunderland…

On Saturday afternoon, Leeds United were disappointingly held to a 1-1 draw by relegation threatened Sunderland at Elland Road.

Paddy McNair’s thumping effort shortly after the half-time interval handed the Black Cats the lead - but Pablo Hernandez secured a perhaps fortuitous point for United by curling in a sumptuous equaliser 18 minutes from time.

The visitors made much of the early running in this match, with full-back Donald Love driving a wild effort over the crossbar and striker Ashley Fletcher heading against it from close proximity following a corner, but United also came close to an opener through Ronaldo Vieira, whose sweetly struck effort from inside the area cannoned off the aluminium of the right-hand post with 18 minutes played.

Three minutes thereafter and, in what was a ding-dong contest for much of the afternoon, Bailey-Peacock Farrell was called into action for the first time, saving attentively from Paddy McNair’s low drive, before United’s Samuel Saiz stung the palms of visiting ‘keeper Lee Camp with a rasping effort from outside the penalty area.

The next clear goalscoring opportunity fell the way of Leeds just a moment later. Dexterous build-up play from Pablo Hernandez and Saiz within the area culminated in the former directing a venomous volleyed attempt toward the bottom corner, only for Camp to divert the ball around the post with a quite marvellous save. From the ensuing corner, taken by Hernandez, Pontus Jansson glanced a headed attempt just wide of the far post.

This was a match that suffered from a dearth of quality - but certainly not alacrity. Sure enough, the contest continued in its ding-dong vein with Aiden McGeady seeing his attempt to plant a header into the net at the back post thwarted by Peacock-Farrell with 27 minutes on the clock.

A succession of Sunderland corners followed, none of which were even remotely threatening until an unmarked Fletcher met one with an emphatic header that richoted back off the crossbar - a real let-off for United prior to the break.

Having been nearly ubiquitously written off beforehand, Sunderland competed well in the first period, with McGeady frequently leading the charge whenever they sought to venture forth into the United half, but they had no goal to show for their assiduity.

Until four minutes of the second period had elapsed, that is. From the right channel, Love found McNair inside the penalty area with a perforating pass, one played immaculately with the outside of his boot, before the latter sent a fierce, crashing shot, packed with power, beyond Peacock-Farrell and into the back of the net to prompt corybantic scenes amongst the visiting supporters.

A spirited Leeds response was not initially forthcoming. In lieu of the hosts making a concerted effort to restore parity, it was the Black Cats of Sunderland who threatened to double their advantage with Lynden Gooch and McNair going close with a driven effort and header respectively.

Before United manufactured their first discernible opening of the half, McNair, who seemingly covered every blade of grass in a terrific, all-action display, elicited yet another save from Peacock-Farrell with a well-struck effort from outside the area.

The hosts’ chance to restore parity arose and was then spurned in the 68th minute when substitute Kemar Roofe, inside the Sunderland box, cut the ball back for Ezgjan Alioski, who lashed the ball over the bar with his weaker right foot to the palpable vexation of the home fans.

Leeds were almost instantaneously made to rue Alioski’s dissipation of that chance a minute later, with Peacock-Farrell saving well from George Honeyman, who had shot, left-footed, toward goal from close range.

That intervention proved crucial as United found their equaliser minutes later. Hernandez received possession from Saiz inside the penalty area before masterfully working a scintilla of space and sending a curling, arching, equalising effort past Lee Camp and into the bottom corner. A ninth goal of the season from the diminutive Spaniard and another utterly stupendous effort, executed with his typical elan.

The goal should have proven the catalyst for a United victory - but, alas, it did not. In the 84th minute, Alioski headed against the underside of the bar. Four minutes later, Saiz, after an impetuous foul by a Sunderland defender, cracked a formidable free-kick against the inside of the left-hand post. It was simply not to be.

Sunderland thereupon appeared the more likely of the two teams to net what surely would have been a decisive goal with substitutes Callum McManaman and Kazenga LuaLua both seeing goalbound efforts repelled by the determined Peacock-Farrell - after Gaetano Berardi was given his marching orders for a crude challenge on McManaman.

Audible booing greeted Jeremy Simpson’s last blast of the whistle to herald the end of the match, and though it was not clear as to who the intended target was, it must be said that labouring to a draw at home to a side seemingly destined for relegation was a disappointing outcome.

The result sees Paul Heckingbottom’s team, who must now contend with the absence of Gaetano Berardi for the rest of the season after his needless red card, a third of the season, in the dying embers of the match, remain in 13th position on 54 points and Sunderland in 23rd position on 32 points - seven adrift of safety.

United were certainly not at their best in this match and were perhaps fortunate to emerge from it with a share of the spoils; credit must therefore be accorded to Sunderland, who performed well throughout the match and might have taken all three points if not for the impeccable performance of Leeds goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who once again played with a self-assurance that belied his callowness.

Pablo Hernandez’s goal was taken in a consummate style typical of him - but it was one of scant few positives on a dour afternoon in West Yorkshire, one encapsulated by debutant Paudie O'Connor's slipshod performance and Gaetano Berardi’s abrasive and reckless challenge and consequent red card.

Make no bones about it, United will have to perform to a much higher standard if they are to at least finish this disappointing season strongly, starting with Tuesday’s trip to darkest Lancashire to face Preston North End.

Leeds (4-2-3-1): Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Jansson, O’Connor, Berardi; Phillips (Roofe 65’), Vieira; Alioski, Saiz (Anita 90+2’), Hernandez; Lasogga (Ekuban 79’).

Unused Subs: Lonergan, Pearce, Nicell, Grot.

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Camp; Love, Kone, O’Shea, Wilson; Cattermole (LuaLua 90+5’); Gooch, McNair, Honeyman (Ejaria 83’), McGeady McManaman 89’); Fletcher.

Unused Subs: Steele, Matthews, Clarke-Salter, Asoro.

Match Statistics (Leeds / S’land)

Shots: 16 / 20

On target: 4 / 9

Possession: 55% / 45%

Corners: 6 / 13

Fouls: 14 / 11

Match Details

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).

Booked: Jansson, O’Connor, Alioski (Leeds), Kone, Honeyman, McManaman (S’land).

Sent off: Berardi (Leeds).

Attendance: 30,461

Man of the Match: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Leeds).

Photo: Action Images

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