|Crystal Palace 4 v 1 Leeds United|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 7th November 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Crystal Palace 4-1 Leeds United - Eagles soar as Whites plummet to another heavy loss
Saturday, 7th Nov 2020 17:05 by Lucas Monk
Leeds United’s defensive woes continued as they fell to a humbling defeat away to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.
United got off to the worst possible start and once again conceded from a set piece as Scott Dann headed home Eberechi Eze’s corner. They immediately responded through Patrick Bamford, only for VAR to inexplicably disallow the goal. Eze doubled the Eagles’s lead with a sumptuous free kick on 22 minutes, and though Bamford did get on the scoresheet five minutes thereafter, a Helder Costa own goal and a strike from Jordan Ayew helped the hosts to a resounding victory.
Leeds made two alterations to the side that suffered defeat against Leicester City on Monday. Pascal Struijk and Ezgjan Alioski came into the starting lineup, and Marcelo Bielsa named Raphinha and Jack Jenkins among the substitutes. Once again, though, the visitors were without the influential Kalvin Phillips, whose grit and defensive steel was sorely missed.
Palace chiefly played as most expected them to, defending in a deep block before executing swift counters. They began brightly and it scarcely came as a surprise when Dann rose highest to head them into the lead on 12 minutes.
Then came one of the more ludicrous VAR decisions of the season so far. Leeds immediately sought to restore parity, and thought they had done so when Bamford lifted the ball over Vicente Guaita with aplomb, only for VAR to declare him, or rather his arm, offside.
The home side then doubled their lead as Eze went from provider to scorer, dispatching an excellent free kick into the top corner on 22 minutes. The frustration on the faces of the United players was evident for all to see.
Bielsa’s charges were able to halve the deficit five minutes later. Bamford sprinted onto Mateusz Klich’s downward header and lashed the ball past Guaita and into the Palace net.
It would prove only a brief respite. Shortly before the interval, United suffered from another rotten piece of luck as a cross from the left deflected off Costa and snuck past Illan Meslier at the near post. This gave the away side a mountain to climb.
Leeds came out fighting in the second half and Alioski and Jack Harrison both elicited saves from Guaita, but another expeditious break from the Eagles put the result beyond doubt. A beleaguered United backline allowed Ayew the freedom of South London and he received a pass from Wilfried Zaha and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner in the 70th minute.
Thereafter, Patrick van Aanholt twice came close to netting a fifth Palace goal and Leeds had appeals for a penalty waved away, before the full-time whistle shrilly confirmed a third defeat in four matches for the visitors.
United dominated large swathes of the game and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but suffered from some wretched misfortune and from their defensive vulnerabilities. The organised and experienced Palace used the pace and skill of Zaha and Eze to pose a consistent threat on the counter, and they ran out deserved winners. Leeds sorely missed Phillips, as evinced by Pascal Struijk’s largely clueless and perfunctory display, and his absence left Palace with plenty of opportunities to threaten a disjointed rearguard. Leeds now have two weeks to prepare for what will be a tough encounter at Elland Road against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, before taking on Everton at Goodison Park. With their defensive porosity costing them once again and a particularly onerous run of fixtures to come after the break, the next month or so may prove the most testing period of Bielsa’s tenure to date.
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Guaita; Clyne, Kouyate, Dann, Aanholt; Townsend (Schlupp 71’), Riedewald (McCarthy 77’), McArthur, Eze; Ayew (Benteke 85’), Zaha.
Unused subs: Butland, Batshuayi, Cahill, Sahko.
Leeds United (3-3-3-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper; Dallas, Struijk (Roberts 71’), Alioski; Costa (Raphinha 46’), Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
Unused subs: Casilla, Davis, Casey, Jenkins, Poveda.
Match Statistics (Crystal Palace / Leeds):
Possession: 35% / 65%
Shots: 10 / 9
On target: 6 / 3
Corners: 3 / 6
Fouls: 9 / 16
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Booked: Cooper, Klich.
Man of the match: Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).
Photo: Action Images
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