Illan Meslier, Rodrigo Moreno and Raphinha stood out as Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Friday.
Leeds United were the more threatening of the two sides for much of the first half, and it is their dominance that paid off early on, as Raphinha broke the deadlock in the 13th minute through a bizarre yet brilliant goal. Allan Saint-Maximin appeared to be the only hope for Newcastle United even as the Whites continued to probe for a second goal.
The marauding Newcastle attacker, though, would go on to bring the Magpies back on level terms with Leeds in the 44th minute, although the visitors ought to have gone ahead at the stroke of half-time, only for Raphinha to take too long to pull the trigger with the goal at his mercy. Post the interval, Newcastle continued to operate primarily on counters, with Leeds enjoying the lion’s share of the possession.
Post the interval, the game ebbed and flowed a whole lot more than it did in the first half, but neither team could really manage to do enough to break the deadlock again, as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. The result does not really help either team, who are still looking for their first wins this season. And now, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
Illan Meslier: 8/10
Surprisingly nearly as busy as Karl Darlow in the Newcastle United goal, and that was all because of the relentless Allan Saint-Maximin. Meslier made one fabulous save from point-blank range with the score reading 1-0 in Leeds’ favour while also producing five other solid stops. Stood no chance of saving Saint-Maximin’s shot for the equaliser.
Stuart Dallas: 5/10
The Leeds defence saw some major reshuffling, and with Luke Ayling starting as a centre-back, Dallas moved into the right-back slot for this game. And it was clear that he is not as equipped to play in his former position as he is now as a midfielder. Struggled to remain reliable on the ball over the course of the game, losing possession 15 times.
Luke Ayling: 4/10
With Pascal Struijk suspended, and Robin Koch and Diego Llorente being out injured, Ayling was the only other choice remaining to partner Liam Cooper at the heart of the Leeds defence. And the 30-year-old struggled to get used to the pace of the game, especially when Saint-Maximin took the Leeds defence on. This is what forced a big error out of him as well, in what was a forgettable game.
Liam Cooper: 5/10
A difficult evening for Cooper, who was tormented by Saint-Maximin whenever he took the game to Leeds. While he did make a number of clearances and interceptions, the Leeds captain just could not manage to keep the Whites’ defence organised enough to shut out the threat of Newcastle, even though they largely cam through unscathed.
Junior Firpo: 5/10
A game of hits and misses for Firpo, who once again appeared to be quite vulnerable in the defensive phases. Got into dangerous areas whenever he charged forward, but ought to have done better when given a chance to score from close range late in the first half. Has to start improving rapidly.
Kalvin Phillips: 5/10
A rare sub-par display by Phillips, although that was also down to the fact that he received no defensive support whatsoever in midfield. The English international, though, got overrun whenever Newcastle looked to initiate counter-attacking moves. That, in turn, also affected his distribution at times, as he lost possession 13 times. A mere blip this, though.
A player who is quickly turning into Leeds’ talisman, Raphinha once again made the difference for the Whites, although he needed some help from Rodrigo for his goal. But, he took way too much time to take aim at goal on the stroke of half-time, when he really should have doubled his and his side’s tally. Played three key passes, although he did lose the ball 18 times as well. More positives than negatives, though.
🚎⭐ Most goals & assists away from home in @premierleague since November 28th, 2020 (Raphinha's first PL away start):
1️⃣5️⃣ – Salah (G1️⃣1️⃣, A4️⃣)
1️⃣1️⃣ – RAPHINHA (G5️⃣, A6️⃣)
1️⃣1️⃣ – Bamford (G5️⃣, A6️⃣) pic.twitter.com/tpXCNH8Fhl
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 17, 2021
Rodrigo Moreno: 8/10
Rodrigo has not had it easy at Leeds since arriving from Valencia last year. However, his display on Friday was a step in the right direction, as he was at the heart of everything good that Leeds were involved in, especially in the first half, including a brilliant dummy to facilitate the goal by Raphinha. Influence waned a little post the break, but this was an overall promising performance.
Mateusz Klich: 6/10
Klich was not exactly poor on the night, having been involved in some promising moments. However, at times, his decision making left a lot to be desired, including when he took a tame shot at goal when he could have easily set Raphinha up for a better chance. Ought to have done better on the defensive front as well.
Daniel James: 6/10
Making his full debut for Leeds, James was typically energetic from his more favoured left wing berth. Will have felt aggrieved at not being awarded a penalty for a genuine foul in the first half. Did not get as involved as he would have liked, although he did typically put in the hard yards off the ball to help out Junior Firpo.
Patrick Bamford: 6/10
A frustrating evening for Bamford, who just could not get going on the day, which reflected in his output in front of goal, as three of his efforts were wide of target. The English international has not started the season on the best possible note, and he appears to be in need of some inspiration.
Tyler Roberts: 6/10
On for James, Roberts was a bundle of energy and played a couple of key passes, although that was not enough to inspire a winner from Leeds.
Crysencio Summerville: 6/10
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 17, 2021
Making his debut for Leeds, Summerville showed some decent touches but struggled to create any openings of note.
Jamie Shackleton: N/A
A late introduction, Shackleton kept things simple in the dying embers of the game.