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Leeds’ comeback win over Leicester throws Championship title race wide open

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Feb 2024

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Leeds struck three late goals at a bouncing Elland Road to beat Leicester 3-1 and throw the Sky Bet Championship title race wide open.

Leicester appeared to be tightening their grip on top spot after Wout Faes’ first-half header, but Leeds hit back in a roaring finish with goals from Connor Roberts, Archie Gray and Patrick Bamford.

Daniel Farke’s side equalled a club-record nine straight league wins – set in 1931 – extending their unbeaten start to the year and closing the gap on leaders Leicester to six points.

The Foxes, who had been 17 points ahead of Leeds at the start of 2024, had been good value for their slender lead, but were punished for some glaring misses as they slipped to back-to-back league defeats.

Leicester were first to threaten through Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s low effort and went close again through a header from Patson Daka, whose fierce drive soon after forced Illan Meslier into a flying save.

Daka was involved again when Leicester took a 15th-minute lead, flicking on Dewsbury-Hall’s corner for the unmarked Faes to head home at the far post.

The Belgium defender’s third-ever goal for the Foxes was the first Leeds had conceded in six league matches and they set about making amends.

Joel Piroe headed wide, Willy Gnonto’s shot was blocked and Leicester centre-half Jannik Vestergaard brilliantly denied Crysencio Summerville a shooting chance in front of goal.

It was fast and furious as Leeds pinned Leicester back in search of an equaliser, but the visitors’ backline, bolted together by big Dane Vestergaard, held firm until half-time.

Georginio Rutter curled wide early in the second period and with Leeds committing men forward, Leicester were measured and incisive on the break.

The Foxes showed they were a step up from the opposition that Leeds had recently faced and it took another full-stretch save from Meslier to keep out Stephy Mavididi’s angled shot.

Vestergaard then headed Dewsbury-Hall’s corner against a post and Daka thought he had put his side 2-0 up, only for his follow-up effort to be ruled out for offside.

Mavididi raced on to Dewsbury-Hall’s slide-rule pass to shoot agonisingly wide before an increasingly frustrated home crowd was lifted by Summerville’s blocked shot.

Daka wasted a golden chance to double the Foxes’ lead in the 73rd minute when dragging his effort off-target after another rapier counter-attack.

Leeds were struggling to gain momentum as the game entered the final 15 minutes, repeatedly repelled by Leicester’s two walls of blue.

But the Whites turned the game on its head with two goals in three minutes.

Roberts, a 73rd-minute replacement for Junior Firpo, lashed home a rebound into the bottom corner after Rutter had been tackled inside the penalty area to equalise in the 80th minute.

And with Leeds fans still celebrating, Gray took possession on the edge of the box and fired home a left-footed effort, which wrong-footed goalkeeper Mads Hermansen after deflecting off Faes and nestling into the bottom corner.

Substitute Patrick Bamford wrapped up the points for Leeds, deflecting in Daniel James’ sweetly-struck free-kick in stoppage time to leave Leicester shell-shocked.

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