LEEDS UNITED moved into the top half of the Premier League with relative ease as goals from Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford saw off an underwhelming performance from Crystal Palace.
Palace have now lost 17 of their last 19 games without forward Wilfried Zaha, but, in truth, even with Zaha they may have struggled to leave West Yorkshire with anything other than defeat given the way Leeds performed.
With no Zaha, Palace gave a debut to Jean-Philippe Mateta, with Patrick van Aanholt playing in advance of Tyrick Mitchell on the left. Within three minutes, though, Leeds picked their opponents’ pocket in that area of the field to take the lead. With the home side pressing from the off, Leeds won the ball back on the edge of the Palace area.
Just a few seconds later, the ball was in the back of Vicente Guaita’s net as Jack Harrison fired home, though not before a deflection off Gary Cahill spun the ball out of Guaita’s reach.
By half-time, Leeds might have been disappointed to lead by only one given the dominance they had enjoyed for large periods of the half. Raphinha was next to terrorise Cahill, turning the defender inside out on the edge of the Palace box five minutes before half-time. Leeds could not convert the free-kick, but Cahill was booked for the foul.
Yet again it was Raphinha at the heart of it, as the Brazilian was played in by Mateusz Klich. His shot was saved smartly by Guaita but Bamford was on hand to score the 100th goal of his club career and ensure his side’s dominance finally had the lead it merited. No player has more goals from open play in the Premier League this season than the 11 Bamford has scored.
Palace’s best – and arguably only – chance came long after the second goal as Eberechi Eze fired over from close range. But by the end the theme reverted to a familiar one as Leeds pressed for more goals, with Harrison striking the bar in the final minutes. By then, though, his miss mattered little.