Leeds United 2 – 2 Brighton. Leeds slipped back into the Premier League relegation places despite twice coming from behind to earn a point in an entertaining draw at home to Brighton.
Alexis Mac Allister’s first-half header was quickly cancelled out by Patrick Bamford’s spectacular 20-yard strike before Jack Harrison scored at both ends in a fast and frenetic second period.
World Cup winner Mac Allister nodded Brighton in front from close range after Kaoru Mitoma intelligently headed Pascal Gross’ deep cross back into the danger area.
Leeds soon levelled as Bamford’s speculative 20-yard shot took a slight deflection off Adam Webster to dip over Jason Steele and in off the underside of the bar.
A Mitoma cross led to Brighton’s second goal as Harrison turned into his own net under pressure from Solly March after Max Wober had narrowly avoided the same fate.
But the midfielder made amends at the other end by curling home from Wilfried Gnonto’s short corner.
Wins elsewhere for Bournemouth and Everton, however, meant Leeds slipped two places to 19th, a point from safety, while the draw lifted Brighton up to seventh in their chase for European football next season.
Eventful afternoon for Harrison
Harrison had not scored for more than six months since Leeds’ 3-0 home win over Chelsea in August but turned from hero, with an assist for Bamford’s initial equaliser, to villain and back to hero in a memorable afternoon.
His hard work in winning possession down the left led to Leeds’ leveller but he was unable to sort out his feet quickly enough after Wober’s original slice flew back out off goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
But Harrison shook off that disappointment to measure a wonderful strike from just inside the area as Brighton failed to react to Gnonto’s piece of quick thinking.
There was a slight element of controversy about the goal as a second ball entered the pitch just before the strike but Gnonto speedily removed it and the officials allowed the goal to stand.
It was a satisfactory second home game in charge for Leeds boss Javi Gracia, following the 1-0 win over relegation rivals Southampton a fortnight earlier, but away trips to Wolves and Arsenal now beckon for a side that has taken just six points from 39 on the road all season.
Leeds had lost on 10 of the 12 occasions they had previously conceded first so the fight they showed here will hearten Gracia for the battle ahead – but they have still only won one of their past 13 matches.
Twice on Saturday, Brighton were within a point of fifth-placed Liverpool, with two games in hand to boot, but they failed to keep hold of their lead on both occasions.
Not for the first time, the Seagulls were guilty of wasteful finishing as they created the clearer-cut chances but needed a helping hand from Leeds to convert one of their two goals.
After Bamford’s leveller, Brighton should have gone straight back in front, only for an unmarked Mac Allister to side-foot Mitoma’s cut-back poorly wide from around 15 yards.
Then, when the scores sat level again at 2-2, substitute Danny Welbeck’s admirable jinking run into the area was not matched by the finish as he curled well over the bar with just Meslier to beat.
But their two goals here mean they have already surpassed their highest tally in a Premier League season by reaching 45, further evidence of the progress Roberto De Zerbi’s side are making.
source – BBC