Pascal Struijk earned his side a point with his late equaliser as Leeds United held Brighton & Hove Albion to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road on Sunday.
Leeds United started the game strongly, but Brighton & Hove Albion held their ground well and absorbed the early pressure from the hosts. The Seagulls soon wrested control over the proceedings and left the Leeds defender helter-skelter before breaking the deadlock midway through the first half.
Yves Bissouma got a free run through the middle of the park before releasing Danny Welbeck, who sat Diego Llorente down before beating Illan Meslier with a clever chipped shot. Brighton continued to pose a threat after that, but Leeds ended the first half strongly, with Robert Sanchez denying Mateusz Klich with a strong save.
Leeds United started the second half just as they had ended the first, carving the better openings, with Brighton sitting back and looking to hit their hosts on the counter. Leeds again came close to scoring, but Raphinha could not find a way past Sanchez, who pulled off a brilliant save to stop a rasping free-kick.
But Leeds started to lose steam as the minutes wore on, and Brighton soon assumed control over the proceedings again. However, Leeds somehow pulled back on level terms, as Pascal Struijk headed in from Joe Gelhardt’s hopeful cross to make it 1-1. The Whites thus leapfrogged Burnley following Tottenham’s win over the Clarets a couple of hours ago. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jesse Marsch’s men.
𝗙𝘂𝗹𝗹 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲: A stoppage time equaliser from Pascal Struijk seals a 1-1 draw with Brighton at Elland Road pic.twitter.com/Xcu00XhHLZ
— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 15, 2022
Illan Meslier: 6/10
Meslier could not have done much to keep out Danny Welbeck’s effort after the Leeds defenders sold him short. But the Frenchman was quick off his line and made a few crucial saves to keep the Whites in the game. That ultimately paid off, as Leeds earned a point from the contest.
Robin Koch: 5/10
Koch was the best defender for Leeds on Sunday, but that does not say much as he had his struggles against Leandro Trossard. But the German defender had some positive moments, including a last-ditch tackle that helped keep the deficit to one goal. He barely carried a threat on his forays into the Brighton half and went off for Jamie Shackleton midway through the second half.
Diego Llorente: 4/10
Llorente endured another game to forget at the heart of the Leeds defence, showing little defensive awareness to allow Welbeck to get the better of him in the build-up to the opener. After that, he made a few crucial interventions but continued to look nervy at the back against Welbeck.
Liam Cooper: 4/10
Cooper’s return to fitness should have impacted Leeds positively. But the Leeds captain made a fool of himself by going out of position when Yves Bissouma released Welbeck for the opener. After that, Cooper produced a dogged performance, but he failed to organise the Whites’ backline throughout the match.
Junior Firpo: 5/10
Firpo blew hot and cold in the match, as he struggled against Solly March but also made a few crucial defensive interventions. The former Barcelona defender won six duels and played two key passes, but he needs to provide a better reassuring presence at the back.
Mateusz Klich: 6/10
Klich was a solid customer in the middle of the park, as he ran his socks off throughout his time on the pitch while being precise with the ball at his feet. The Polish midfielder also played two key passes, while Robert Sanchez denied him with a brilliant save in the first half. He has done well to win his place back.
Kalvin Phillips: 6/10
Phillips was one of the better performers for Leeds, as he stood his ground well and restricted Pascal Gross greatly. But the English international lost the ball carelessly a few too many times, allowing Brighton to wrest control over the proceedings. Nonetheless, his defensive output was solid, and he will be pivotal in the season’s final game.
Raphinha and Kalvin Phillps sharing a moment post game after the fans have left.
Both possibly playing here in a Leeds shirt for the final time?
— Jonathan Buchan (@jonathanbuchan) May 15, 2022
Raphinha was the only Leeds attacker who looked like he could make a meaningful impact on the proceedings. But the Brazilian did not have enough support, as he played a joint-game-high four key passes without any of those through balls getting converted. Raphinha also came close with a curling free-kick, only for Sanchez to deny him brilliantly.
Rodrigo Moreno: 4/10
Rodrigo was horrendous, to say the least, as his output on the ball was sub-par, with the Spaniard completing only 68 per cent of his attempted passes. The ex-Valencia forward barely got into dangerous scoring positions, and both his shots were blocked.
Jack Harrison: 5/10
Harrison put in the hard yards off the ball for Leeds, but that did not matter much, as Brighton bypassed him with ease at times. The former Manchester City winger barely carried a threat on his forward forays, and his output needs to improve drastically in the final game next Sunday.
Joe Gelhardt: 5/10
Gelhardt endured a frustrating game for the most part, with his passes not coming off as he intended. The young striker failed to connect with teammates for much of the game, but he delivered the goods when it mattered the most, as his hopeful cross found Pascal Struijk, who nodded in the equaliser.
Jamie Shackleton: 6/10
Shackleton replaced Koch midway through the second half and defended well for the most part. But like Koch, the Englishman spent most of his time in the Leeds half instead of supporting Raphinha, which was a major issue for Leeds.
Pascal Struijk: 7/10
Pascal Struijk’s game by numbers vs Brighton:
15 minutes played
100% shot accuracy
4 total touches
1 shot attempted
1 goal scored
0 passes made
Sent on for one job. 😅 pic.twitter.com/CwY7jByego
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 15, 2022
Players coming after the 75th minute seldom get a rating. But such was the importance of Struijk’s goal that he gets the highest points among the Leeds players, as he nodded in the equaliser to get the Whites out of the drop zone.
Sam Greenwood: N/A
A late introduction, Greenwood barely made an impact in the game’s dying embers.