In-form Leeds fight back to stun leaders Leicester

23 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Archie Gray celebrates scoring for LeicesterArchie Gray’s strike took a huge deflection off Wout Faes to put Leeds 2-1 up

Leeds United scored three late goals to complete a stunning turnaround and secure a ninth successive league win at the expense of Championship leaders Leicester.

The Foxes looked to be heading for victory before substitute Connor Roberts levelled in the 80th minute and teenager Archie Gray sparked pandemonium moments later when his deflected strike beat Mads Hermansen at his near post.

With Leicester losing their discipline, Dan James’ 20-yard free-kick in stoppage time bounced off Patrick Bamford and in to move second-placed Leeds to within six points of Leicester.

In an action-packed encounter at Elland Road, the visitors took a deserved lead when Wout Faes, who had the final touch on Gray’s strike, headed in unmarked from a corner.

Enzo Maresca’s men started the second half as they did the first and Stephy Mavididi drew a good save from Illan Meslier in the Leeds goal, before Patson Daka wrongly had a goal ruled out for offside after Jannik Vestergaard’s towering header came back off the crossbar.

Daka was onside when Vestergaard made contact with the ball and Leeds’ Georginio Rutter then deflected the rebound into the Leicester man’s path before he fired into the net.

The Zambian striker missed a brilliant chance to make it 2-0 when he shot wide when played in on goal and that miss proved to be very costly as the Foxes fell to a second straight defeat.

Leeds breathe new life into title race

For Leeds, this most unlikely of comebacks preserved their unbeaten record at home this campaign and will have given them renewed hope of chasing the Foxes down for the Championship title as both look to secure immediate returns to the Premier League.

Boss Daniel Farke had warned his side against being “over-motivated” for this game, while Foxes counterpart Maresca said the match was “huge” for the home side given how far they were behind Leicester.

Joel Piroe wasted a fine chance to give the hosts an early advantage before the visitors grew into the contest and went in front.

Faes became just the second player to score a league goal against the Whites in 2024 when he headed in after Daka had flicked on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s corner.

Chances came and went for both sides thereafter in a stretched first half. Piroe headed wide almost immediately after Faes’ goal, while Vestergaard came in with a perfectly-timed last-ditch tackle to deny the busy Crysencio Summerville.

Leeds struggled for any sort of fluency after the break and both Daka and Mavididi missed gilt-edged chances on the counter before Farke’s men, almost from nowhere, summoned up a remarkable comeback.

First Burnley loanee Roberts drilled home after Vestergaard made a mess of trying to cut out a low cross from Rutter.

Three minutes later it was 2-1, although it remains to be seen if 17-year-old Gray has scored his first ever senior goal after his shot took a couple of deflections on its way in and could go down as a Faes own goal.

Gray, the great-nephew of Whites legend Eddie Gray, is the third generation of his family to play for Leeds and his father Andy was an unused sub the last time the Whites beat the Foxes at home in November 2012.

Another fortuitous deviation on James’ strike off fellow substitute Bamford with just seconds remaining chalked up Leeds’ 2,000th win in their 104-year history and left Leicester stunned at a febrile Elland Road.

Leeds now head to old rivals Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday before visiting struggling neighbours Huddersfield next Saturday in pursuit of a club-record 10th straight league win.

Leicester also have Premier League opposition in the cup in midweek, as they visit Bournemouth on Tuesday, before a home game against lowly QPR on Saturday.

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Leeds:

“A great evening for everyone connected to Leeds United. There are many record-breaking statistics but the feeling is more important.

“You could feel how much it meant to everyone. I’m happy for our supporters to enjoy these moments with our fans.

“We created the better chances in the first half and I think they were a bit lucky to be in the lead at the break and then we were a bit lucky not to be 2-0 down after that because they had chances on the counter-attack.

“We fought our way back into it in the last 15-20 minutes. They were all goals of will and fighting spirit.

“It was a tight game but overall when I judge the full 90 minutes I think it was a deserved win.”

Leicester City manager Enzo Maresca told BBC Radio Leicester:

“It’s a big shame but the way we performed was very good. For 80 minutes we controlled and dominated the game. We created many, many chances and football is about taking chances.

“It was so clear that there was only one team trying to win the game, dominate and create chances. Unfortunately, for the last 10 minutes the dynamic changed.

“It could have been a totally different game – not only for that [disallowed] goal, but we had many more chances to score a second.

“I always said the race was very long. I never thought of winning the league by 10 or 15 points. At the end, the difference will be very tiny. We need to focus on the 12 games we have and try to win as many as we can.”

Line-ups

Leeds

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1MeslierBooked at 88mins
  • 22Gray
  • 14RodonBooked at 45mins
  • 4AmpaduBooked at 52mins
  • 3FirpoSubstituted forRobertsat 73′minutesBooked at 87mins
  • 44Gruev
  • 8KamaraBooked at 75mins
  • 29GnontoSubstituted forJamesat 64′minutes
  • 24Rutter
  • 10SummervilleSubstituted forAnthonyat 90+1′minutes
  • 7PiroeSubstituted forBamfordat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Cresswell
  • 6Cooper
  • 9Bamford
  • 12Anthony
  • 13Klaesson
  • 17Shackleton
  • 20James
  • 33Roberts
  • 49Joseph

Leicester

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 30Hermansen
  • 17Choudhury
  • 3Faes
  • 23VestergaardBooked at 90mins
  • 2Justin
  • 21Ricardo PereiraBooked at 19mins
  • 8Winks
  • 10MavididiSubstituted forMcAteerat 78′minutes
  • 22Dewsbury-Hall
  • 18Fatawu
  • 20DakaSubstituted forCannonat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Coady
  • 5Doyle
  • 11Albrighton
  • 26Praet
  • 28Cannon
  • 29Akgün
  • 35McAteer
  • 41Stolarczyk
  • 45Nelson
Referee:
Craig Pawson
Attendance:
36,954

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Leeds United 3, Leicester City 1.

Second Half ends, Leeds United 3, Leicester City 1.