Leeds United Win Thrilling Match Against Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leeds Climbs Out of Relegation Zone
Leeds climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone after holding off a late Wolves fightback to win an enthralling game at Molineux. The victory lifts Javi Gracia’s side – who started the day in 19th – four places and two points above the bottom three.
Leeds Takes the Lead Early On
Jack Harrison, who scored in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to Brighton, side-footed Wilfried Gnonto’s cut-back past Jose Sa to give the visitors an early lead after a bright start.
Leeds Doubles Their Advantage
Leeds doubled their advantage four minutes into the second half as Luke Ayling, left completely unmarked by the Wolves defence, beat Sa with a low header from point-blank range. More questionable defending from Jonny gifted second-half substitute Rasmus Kristensen a third moments after the Dane’s introduction, before the Wolves defender gave his team hope with a tremendous volleyed finish after Illan Meslier had come rushing out of his goal to make a clearance.
Wolves Attempts a Comeback
Matheus Cunha’s deflected strike set up a nail-biting finale, but Wolves’ hopes of a dramatic comeback were dealt a blow when Jonny was shown a straight red card for a reckless, studs-up challenge on Ayling with just over six minutes remaining. Rodrigo completed the scoring deep into added time, lifting the ball over the onrushing Sa for his 11th league goal of the campaign. “I enjoyed [the game] more in the first half,” Gracia told BBC Match of the Day afterwards. “In the second half we suffered a lot.
Wolves Remain in a Precarious Position
Julen Lopetegui’s Wolves side stay 13th but remain only three points above the relegation zone, having played at least a game more than the majority of their rivals near the foot of the table. Leeds have shown plenty of promise in their two home games under new manager Gracia but had lost both games away from Elland Road under the 52-year-old – at Fulham in the FA Cup and Chelsea in the league – prior to Saturday.
Leeds Starts Strong Despite Poor Away Record
The visitors certainly didn’t start like a team with only one top-flight victory on their travels this season, taking the game to Wolves and going in front with just six minutes on the clock. Gnonto, restored to the side in place of Crysencio Summerville, was particularly lively early on and vindicated his manager’s decision with a brilliant cut-back into Harrison, who side-footed home his second goal in as many games.
Leeds Withstood Heavy Pressure
The visitors had their backs to the wall for the rest of the first half as Wolves applied heavy pressure, but a combination of smart goalkeeping, last-ditch defending and wasteful finishing ensured they went into half-time with their narrow lead intact. Second-half goals from Ayling – his first since scoring in Leeds’ 3-2 win at Molineux on 18 March last year – and Kristensen gave Leeds a seemingly comfortable platform for a rare away success, but Jonny’s spectacular finish and Cunha’s low effort – which took a heavy deflection off Maximilian Wober on its way in – offered Wolves an unlikely lifeline.
VAR Controversies Continue to Plague Wolves
Ayling was fortunate to escape serious injury when Jonny caught the Leeds skipper with a high challenge after a heavy touch, but the 31-year-old was back on his feet quickly to help the visitors see out the victory. Rodrigo’s late effort was subject to a VAR review for an apparent foul by Marc Roca on Adama Traore in the build-up, but after viewing the incident on his pitchside monitor referee Michael Salisbury decided to award the goal.
Wolves Could Have No Complaints with Red-Card Decision
Wolves were adamant they should have been awarded a penalty at St James’ Park last weekend, and they were no less incensed by Salisbury’s failure to award a spot-kick after Junior Firpo appeared to clip Nelson Semedo in the area minutes after Harrison’s opener. Lopetegui looked on bemused as the video assistant referee confirmed Salisbury’s original decision, before making his feelings plain to the fourth official Andre Marriner. However, the hosts could have no complaints with the decision to dismiss Jonny, who had an eventful afternoon to say the least.
Wolves’ Inconsistencies Come Back to Haunt Them
Unused substitute Matheus Nunes was also shown a red card deep into second-half stoppage time after remonstrating with the officials in the aftermath of Rodrigo’s late goal. After conceding four for the first time since October, Wolves’ meeting with Nottingham Forest after the international break now takes on added importance. Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Leeds United 4. Second Half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Leeds United 4.