Raphinha on the spot with vital, late winner for Leeds after Christian Benteke's glaring miss

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·27-min read
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Leeds United vs Crystal Palace, Premier League: live score and latest updates - Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Leeds United vs Crystal Palace, Premier League: live score and latest updates - Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
  • Raphinha grabs the points with a stoppage-time penalty

  • Benteke misses second-half sitter for Palace

  • Leeds move up to 15th after third win of the season

  • Phillips emphatically denies so-called rift with Bielsa

Leeds players embarked on a lap of honour moments after Raphinha’s last-gasp winner, such was the magnitude of their victory.

The Brazil forward had held his nerve, waiting for Vicente Guaita to commit before scoring his 94th-minute penalty. From staring at another dismal stalemate, fans were celebrating rising to the relative heights of 15th place after a match they could easily have lost.

There was a touch of relief to the jubilant scenes for what must have been one of the latest winners in the Premier League, with the most significant action after 10pm for a fixture with a later kick-off for TV.

Supporters waving their white scarves will have known there was a touch of fortune to the result as Christian Benteke, the striker who specialises on Tuesday-night goals, missed two chances to secure victory.

But with seconds remaining, Marc Guehi jumped and used his arm to clear Raphinha’s corner. When Kevin Friend was asked by Var to look at his monitor, the winning penalty was inevitable.

Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke heads at goal - Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff 
Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke heads at goal - Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

“There is relief. We can breathe again,” said Bielsa. “The win was very necessary. We really hoped we could win this game because the results we’d been getting weren’t good enough.

“To have a penalty in the last minute in such an important game is not easy. You have to have character and personality to be able to score it. In every game we play, all the points are important given the start to the season we’ve had, which hasn’t been good. In every game it’s going to be an extreme necessity for us to get the points.

“After the goal there were still five minutes to play. Only at the end did we feel the win was ours.”

It was the first time in two months they had recorded victory at Elland Road and it looked as though two of the draw specialists of the Premier League this season were heading for another share of the spoils.

The return of Patrick Bamford still cannot come soon enough for Bielsa, who has been encouraged by the striker playing for the Under-23s and hopes he will be ready for the weekend.

Without the England striker they have struggled for fluency in attack and in this match defeat was harsh on Palace, who had enjoyed the better chances before the late drama. Only Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer have scored more goals on a Tuesday night than Benteke and the Belgian should have added to his tally when he came off the bench.

Wilfried Zaha’s cross to the back post left him with all the goal to aim but he went wide with his header. Shortly afterwards he forced Illan Meslier to save on his goalline as he prodded a finish on target. The misses were costly as Guehi’s solid work during the match was undone in stoppage-time.

icente Guaita of Crystal Palace fails to save a penalty kick from Raphinha of Leeds United as he scores his side's first goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace - George Wood/Getty Images
icente Guaita of Crystal Palace fails to save a penalty kick from Raphinha of Leeds United as he scores his side's first goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace - George Wood/Getty Images

“I don't need to speak to him about it, he is frustrated and will learn from that,” said Palace manager Patrick Vieira. “We have to move through these situations but I was pleased with the game he had. He is growing as a player and person and I am impressed with his leadership since he has been here.”

Gareth Southgate was in the stands to watch Conor Gallagher and Kalvin Phillips, who returned to his midfield role and later wanted to make it clear he had not fallen out with Bielsa after being subbed at half-time at the weekend.

"I will play any position the manager asks me - if he wants me to play centre-back I will play centre-back, if he wants me to play goalkeeper I'll play goalkeeper. I respect him so much I will never fall out with him,” said Phillips.

"I saw a lot of things on social media and TV that me and the manager had fallen out, it's never been the case and I wanted to put that to bed."

10:13 PM

Here's the penalty

Leeds United's Raphinha scores their first goal from the penalty spot - REUTERS/Craig Brough
Leeds United's Raphinha scores their first goal from the penalty spot - REUTERS/Craig Brough

10:12 PM

Full time Leeds 1 Palace 0

Only Leeds' third victory of the season and one they sorely needed. They were the better team in the second-half but they owe their victory to two bad mistakes from Benteke, who missed a sitter, and Guehi, who raised his arm unnaturally high when jumping with Cooper at the corner.

10:10 PM

90+6 min Leeds 1 Palace 0

Palace have thrown everyone forward and keep pumping it into the box until Raphinha buys a foul off Hughes and Leeds can take their turn to waste some time.

10:09 PM

90+5 min Leeds 1 Palace 0

Palace free-kick on the left after Forshaw's yellow-card worthy foul.

Phillips makes a superb clearance from the cross.

10:08 PM

90+4 min Leeds 1 Palace 0

Is that the 'Get out of Jail'? It was Raphinha's corner, bent in with vicious whip, that brought the penalty.

Leeds send on Charlie Cresswell for Tyler Roberts.

10:07 PM

90+3 min Leeds 1 Palace 0

He does the hop, skip and shoot. Raphinha scores for Leeds, low into the right of goal.

10:07 PM

GOOOOOAL!!

And scores.

10:06 PM

90+2 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Yes, his arm was up and Guehi is booked.

Raphinha will take it.

10:06 PM

90+2 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

VAR calls Friend over to the TV screen.

It is a penalty for Leeds.

10:05 PM

90+1 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Leeds corner after Ward flicks James' right-wing cross out.

Leeds claim hand ball from the corner. Friend hasn't given it. Will it go to VAR. Guehi handles Cooper's header.

10:03 PM

90 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

We'll have five minutes of stoppage time.

10:03 PM

89 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Roberts turns and shoots from 18 yards, bending it down Guaita's throat after a lovely turn from Raphinha and a decent pass from Firpo.

Palace substitution: Olise comes on for Ayew.

10:02 PM

87 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Firpo overhits a pass that might have sent Raphinha in down the left. Ally McCoist names Raphinha as his man of the match.

10:01 PM

85 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Raphinha heads out the free-kick before it reaches the Palace runners. Corner ... Leeds clear their lines.

Roberts is booked for a mistimed sliding challenge on Kouyate.

09:59 PM

84 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Hughes fails to release the ball early enough for Mitchell who nonetheless still earns a free-kick when Rodrigo comes through the back of him. Palace will take it, parallel with the 18-yard line on the left, two yards towards touch.

09:57 PM

83 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Benteke takes it 10 yards when sent on a run cutting in from the left by Zaha's cute pass but he wallops the shot wide of the right post.

09:56 PM

82 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace send on Will Hughes for Schlupp. Leeds look vulnerable on the break.

09:54 PM

80 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

The third corner sparks a Palace counter that almost leads to a goal when Benteke sticks out his left foot to connect with the right-wing diagonal. Meslier has to dive back to pull it back as it was trickling towards the line.

09:52 PM

78 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Leeds free-kick on the left after Schlupp's foul on Roberts who had turned him. Raphunha takes it quick to Firpo running down the side of the area and he takes it in his stride and whistles a cross through the six-yard box that Palace hack behind. The first near post corner leads to another and then another as Palace block the flick on behind.

09:50 PM

77 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Raphinha whips a menacing left-footed cross from the right to the back post but no one was quick enough to get there. Why not bring Gelhardt on now?

09:49 PM

75 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Benteke misses a peach of a chance at the back post but bludgeons his header wide. Gallagher and Benteke combined to beat Dallas down the left. Benteke went to the back post and when Gallagher's shot was blocked well by Cooper, Zaha pounced on he rebound and put it on a plate for Benteke.

09:46 PM

73 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Dallas is booked for fouling Zaha or presenting him with a leg hurdle he cannot surmount. Left side, about a yard outside the box, parallel with the 18-yard line. Gallagher whips it to the far post, Cooper and Llorente combine to clear.

09:44 PM

71 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

When Firpo has a chance to lay it off to James by the 18-yard line, he makes a moose of the pass.

09:43 PM

70 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Dallas looks OK now. Firpo stands up a cross from the left, looking for Raphinha attacking the back post but Mitchell backpedals and heads it over him.

09:42 PM

69 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace are warned again for wasting time when Edouard takes an age to walk to the sidelines to be replaced by Benteke.

Rodrigo Moreno of Leeds United shoots during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace  - Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Rodrigo Moreno of Leeds United shoots during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace - Jan Kruger/Getty Images

09:40 PM

67 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Dallas falls heavily on his shoulder when trying to catch Zaha who is trying to persuade the referee that he handled it as he fell.

09:38 PM

67 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Leeds' forwards are so toothless that Forshaw takes on a shot from 30 yards after tenacious work from James on the left but spanks it over the bar. Not even close.

09:37 PM

65 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Rodrigo sends James down the left and this time he hits an early cross, too deep and high. Not sure how much of an upgrade on Helder Costa he really is.

Guaita is warned for time-wasting but not booked.

09:35 PM

63 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace wasting time already. This is there to be won for them. What gives?

09:35 PM

61 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Firpo goes down the left, stands up a cross that Palace head to Dallas whose shot is blocked as is Phillips' as he tries to bend one from 20 yards with his right instep.

09:34 PM

59 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Zaha stands on Raphinha's shin and Palace play on despite Friend's error in not seeing what really happened. The crowd boos but they continue until Leeds win it back and knock it out themselves.

09:31 PM

57 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Firpo and James link up then the latter sweeps a pass into the box on the left for Forshaw who spins and shoots through Tomkins legs and Guaita saves. Needed to take a touch off one of Tomkins' heels as it went through.

09:29 PM

55 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Better from Leeds as Rodrigo at least gives them a focal point. But both Firpo and James fail to work a proper cut-back from the left for him to shoot on goal.

09:28 PM

53 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Back on he comes and Forshaw takes the ball off Zaha, passes it to Raphinha who sends a beautiful 50-yard diagonal to James. He has the chance to lay it off first time with his left but takes a touch then centres for Rodrigo, too close to the keeper. Rodrigo can get there first but needs to hit it first time but he too takes a touch and knocks it wide of Guaita and into touch. There was never enough room to take that round the keeper.

09:25 PM

51 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Kouyate has hurt his groin in a collision with Forshaw. After treatment he gets to his feet and walks to the sidelines.

09:23 PM

49 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Gallagher fires it into the wall and Zaha sends a roundhouse volley over the bar when it ricochets to him in the middle of the D.

09:22 PM

48 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Firpo is booked in back-to-back games and within 150 seconds of his introduction by stepping on Ayew's heel as he ran towards the box. Palace free-kick 20 yards out to the right of the D. Good chance, this.

09:20 PM

47 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Llorente mops up for Leeds at the back when Palace sweep the ball into the box. Raphinha tries to slip Forshaw down the inside-left but Guehi gets there first.

09:19 PM

46 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

I was at Brighton on Saturday night and Junior Firpo had a shocker against Tariq Lamptey, Jordan Ayew is bound to run at him at every opportunity.

09:17 PM

Leeds make two changes

Rodrigo and Junior Firpo replace Klich and Struijk.

09:03 PM

Half-time Leeds 0 Palace 0

Some glimpses of genuine quality, mainly from Palace, but Leeds look off-kilter, shorn of confidence and the old verve and vim.

09:02 PM

45+2 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace corner on the right after Leeds defend a deep one a few seconds earlier. This one Gallagher again knocks long and Klich cleans up.

09:01 PM

45+1 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Leeds have fizzled out. Roberts is often the scapegoat for Leeds fans but his performance today, along with James's is unconvincing. Raphinha seems to have lost his mojo these last two games, too.

09:00 PM

44 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Struijk has treatment on his left knee/calf and comes back on as Meslier chips the free-kick out. Looks like two minutes of injury time will be added.

08:58 PM

43 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Struijk is booked for hacking at the ball and striking Ayew as the two wrestled with their feet for it in the floor. Llorente heads away the free-kick and is fouled when the cross comes back in.

Struijk is struggling.

08:56 PM

41 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Raphinha takes the free-kick wide on the right, five yards out of the box and hoops it hopelessly beyond the back post and miles too high.

08:54 PM

40 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Gallagher is booked for sliding into Raphinha who doesn't hurdle him but goes down. A minute earlier Gallagher was struck in the throat by Cooper's arm but much to his and Vieira's disgust, the ref waved play on.

08:53 PM

38 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Ward is booked for pulling down James 10 yards inside the Palace half after a hospital pass from Tomkins. Raphinha wastes the free-kick, not even getting it as far as the box.

08:51 PM

36 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Dallas chips a long diagonal into the right side of the box from the touchline. James leaps to cushion it on his toe but can't get a shot away before Tomkins and Guaita snuff his chances out.

08:50 PM

34 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace are by far the slicker, more fluent side in attack, pinging the ball around in their attacking third and catching Leeds cold with their movement and runners. Gallagher is causing untold problems and but for a wayward pass or two, they would be ahead.

08:47 PM

32 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace free-kick in their own half. They chip it up to halfway and get another when James wraps his arms and leg around Kouyate.

Crystal Palace's Conor Gallagher in action with Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips  - REUTERS/Craig Brough
Crystal Palace's Conor Gallagher in action with Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips - REUTERS/Craig Brough

08:44 PM

29 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Phillips chips a diagonal into the box, hoping Raphinha can spin between Mitchell and Guehi but he can't. Guaita throws it out and Forshaw chops down Gallagher to stop him dribbling down the Palace left.

08:42 PM

27 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Llorente strolls out of defence, makes 40 yards, looks for the one-two with Roberts who completely misplaces the return and triggers a Palace counter that Phillips stops with a foul on 40 yards.

Meslier comes out of goal and punches the free-kick out for a throw.

08:40 PM

26 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Ayew beats Struijk and fizzes over a cross that Meslier dives to gather before Zaha can punce.

08:39 PM

24 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Phillips robs Kouyate 25 yards out, splits down the right and with Roberts in the middle, James at the back post, opts to shoot, slipping as he did so and barrelling it into the side-netting.

08:37 PM

23 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

The left side of Leeds' defence looks wide open and Schlupp is the latest to exploit it, shooting just wide from 25 yards with thunderous power.

08:36 PM

21 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

James is ruled offside in a tight call but it made no difference as his attempt to tee up Roberts for a shot was woeful, dragging his pass behind the centre-forward.

08:34 PM

19 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace have a good penalty shout when Ayew goes down under what looks at first like Struijk's shove. He leant on him but did he really push him with both hands? VAR and the referee say no.

08:33 PM

17 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Ayew beats Cooper down the left and whips over the cross that Llorente puts behind, claiming he was fouled. The referee isn't having it, though and points for a corner.

08:31 PM

16 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Raphinha glides down the right, spins Mitchell this way and that then cuts it back to Forshaw in the box. The midfielder turns away from goal, spins 180 degrees then thumps a left-foo daisy-cutter about six inches wide of the left post with the goalie wearing concrete boots and there to be beaten.

08:29 PM

14 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Palace break when Cooper slips but Ayew, when he gets to the 18-yard line, wants to offload to Edouard who hasn't made the right run so has to take on the shot himself and hits it straight at Llorente's feet.

Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell (left) and Leeds United's Raphinha battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. - Nick Potts/PA
Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell (left) and Leeds United's Raphinha battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. - Nick Potts/PA

08:27 PM

12 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Excellent move for Leeds and a good chance for Roberts. Dallas plays a one-two with Raphinha, bombs down the outside and whips over a very menacing near-post cross that Roberts ought to at least reach and turn goalwards from six yards but he tries to open his body to side-foot it with his left and misses it completely.

08:24 PM

10 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Raphinha's first corner comes back to him and he controls and shields it adroitly to win another. This one is also whipped to the back post but Palace scramble it away.

08:23 PM

9 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Raphinha does get a shooting chance on his left as the ball breaks to the right of the D.He hits it sweetly but Kouyate manages to get a toe on it and divert it over for a corner.

08:22 PM

8 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Forshaw, Klich and Raphinha are teaming up nicely on the right but haven't been able to get Raphinha on to his left within shooting range so far. Zaha and Edouard switch between the left and the middle.

08:21 PM

6 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Phillips intercepts Guehi's pass and sends James down the left. Once again he cuts infield on to his right foot but shoots again straight at a defender's legs.

Seconds later Phillips and Gallagher go into a fifty-fifty with gleeful force. Phillips wins it and the two shake hands.

08:19 PM

4 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Leeds break up the left and James cuts in from that flank to get into the box and shoot into Kouyate's shins. Raphinha and James are stationed very wide indeed.

08:18 PM

2 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Zaha is playing on the left and cuts in to tie up with Mitchell. He races towards the 18-yard line and squares it to Schlupp who takes too long over his pass to exploit Ayew's run on the overlap. He has to wait for it and consequently allows Cooper to recover and force him too wide to keep his shot in play.

08:16 PM

1 min Leeds 0 Palace 0

Zaha does not take the knee but stands 'tall' while the others do, then kicks off and Klich chases the pass back to Guehi and fouls him. Palace take the free-kick but almost immediately put it out for a Leeds throw and they recycle it across their back four.

08:14 PM

The rain is falling at Elland Road

Palace have won the toss and will kick off after the players take the knee, attacking the Gelderd End.

08:12 PM

Champion and McCoist reunited

In the Amazon Prime commentary box.

Out come the teams - Palace in their barbershop diagonal red and blue stripes, Leeds United in their lilywhite with primrose trim as Marching On Together rings out.

08:10 PM

Leeds CEO Angus Kinnear has caused a stink with his programme notes

Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear has compared calls for an independent regulator in English football and a transfer levy on Premier League clubs to Maoism and the Great Chinese Famine.

They were two of 47 recommendations made by a fan-led review of football governance which was announced last week.

Kinnear supports much of what was included in the review but took exception with two key issues which he said were "as flawed as they are radical".

Writing in his programme notes for Leeds' clash with Crystal Palace, Kinnear said: "Of the 47 recommendations contained in the fan-led review of football governance there was much to applaud.

"Increased supporter consultation, heritage shares, renewed focus for the women's game and improving equality and diversity (among others) will all be met with almost unequivocal support.

"However, the two most significant recommendations are as flawed as they are radical. The first is the demand for independent regulation and the second is an increased transfer levy to redistribute increased funds further down the football pyramid.

"These proposals have been conflated to address the very separate issues of the demise of Bury, the threat of the European Super League and the takeover of Newcastle United.

"Football is a private sector business and has flourished that way. Enforcing upon football a philosophy akin to Maoist collective agriculturalism (which students of 'The Great Leap Forward' will know culminated in the greatest famine in history) will not make the English game fairer, it will kill the competition which is its very lifeblood.

"Teams further down the pyramid do not need their means artificially inflated, they need to live within them.

"As a recently promoted team we were asked by the review what we would have done with increased funds if Premier League teams had been forced to financially contribute to our promotion campaign and the answer (although more eloquently expressed) was, fundamentally, that we would have still blown it on Pawel Cibicki."

Kinnear's quotes have attracted some attention, with Gary Neville suggesting they were hypocritical.

He tweeted: "Anyone remember when Leeds United were in the Championship sweating like crazy over their own financial state if they didn't go up.

"How has it come to this within 12 months? A sorry state of affairs. Surely even Leeds fans don't like these programme notes on the Fan Led Review."

08:03 PM

Vieira speaks

The changes are to bring in a bit of freshness. When you have games every three or four days you have to rotate, bring in some of the guys who have been doing well in training.

The front three doing a lot of hard work out of possession and that's why I made those changes because we will have to run very hard out of possession but also run in behind.

07:57 PM

Kalvin Phillips is in midfield ...

says Marcelo Bielsa, when interviewed, and syas of Tyler Roberts: "He's the centre-forward today and you always expect the centre-forward to score. The important thing is even if he doesn't score he contributes so we and his team-mates can score."

And how important are these two home games (tonight and against Brentford on Sunday): "Very important. Very, very important."

07:54 PM

Tonight's Amazon studio pundits

Are Michael Owen and Clinton Morrison. They have so few games they select from the army of freelances.

07:53 PM

Big night for Tyler Roberts

Chosen ahead of record signing Rodrigo and Leeds' most promising U-23 Joffy Gelhardt to lead the line against James Tomkins and Marc Guehi.

Leeds United's Tyler Roberts on the pitch before the match  - REUTERS/Craig Brough
Leeds United's Tyler Roberts on the pitch before the match - REUTERS/Craig Brough

07:25 PM

And now for those of you watching in black and white

Leeds United Meslier; Dallas, Llorente, Cooper, Struijk; Phillips; Raphinha, Forshaw, Klich, James; Roberts.
Substitutes Klaesson, Firpo, Rodrigo, Harrison, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Summerville, Shackleton, Jenkins.

Crystal Palace Guaita; Ward, Tomkins, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Kouyate, Schlupp; Ayew, Edouard, Zaha.
Substitutes Butland, Milivojevic, Olise, Eze, Hughes, Clyne, Benteke, Kelly, Riedewald.

Referee Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

07:22 PM

Those changes

For Leeds Tyler Roberts starts ahead of Jack Harrison, Mateusz Klich instead of Rodrigi and Pascal Struijk for Junior Firpo.

No Christian Benteke for Palace whose place is taken by Odsonne Edouard, Jeffrey Schlupp comes in for Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew replaces Michael Olise.

07:19 PM

Three changes for Palace, too

07:16 PM

Leeds make three changes

06:32 PM

Leeds fans' tribute to Gary Speed

Will take place in the 11th minute, his old Leeds shirt number, to mark 10 years since his death. A poignant salute took place at Brighton on Sunday, too, but tonight is the home crowd's chance.

Here's something I wrote about the fifth anniversary:

It was Speed’s formative seven years as a first-team player at Leeds that give most of us who watched his extraordinarily rapid and self-possessed progress a perception of primacy when it comes to reminiscences about him and a certain sense of ownership.

You can read the full piece from 2016 here.

05:58 PM

Good evening

And welcome to live coverage of Leeds United vs Crystal Palace. Marcelo Bielsa, writing in tonight's programme, concedes that over the last three matches the home side played well against Leicester and, thus, feels only drawing was a missed opportunity; they faded after their best first-half performance of the season against Spurs and lost a game they should at least have drawn and were comprehensively outplayed at Brighton on Saturday evening in the first half but recovered to something approaching parity in the second to rescue a point they probably didn't deserve. "How we recovered in the second half," he writes, "gives us a lot of optimism and hope. We looked more like our usual selves, without managing to unbalance Brighton."

"Unbalancing" is the key principle of Bielsa's attacking strategy and with so many injuries throughout the first third of the season, it is Leeds who have looked unbalanced by playing Daniel James through the middle, any number of midfield combinations before the heartening return of Adam Forshaw after two years out, the failure of Rodrigo and Junior Firpo to find the strides that commanded, by Leeds standards, high fees and Raphinha's tiredness after his international call-ups. But above all it is Patrick Bamford's presence they have missed, not that he was at his best before his injury but his work-rate, nose for the place that will most expose the defence in the penalty area and ability to hang on to the ball, have left Leeds short of quality possession in the final third.

Bielsa was also forced to address the contention made by Tim Sherwood and Jamie Redknapp that all was not well between the manager and Kalvin Phillips after the England midfielder was hooked at half-time at the Amex. Phillips' status as a Leeds "idol" was "completely deserved", his manager said and insisted his decision to replace him at half-time was for the good of the team.

"That doesn't mean I was correct, but I did what I thought was best," said Bielsa. "But in no way does that mean that there's a difficulty with anyone. "It's never good for a player or for a team to think that the positions are immovable and that the hierarchies that are within a team can't be altered ever."

Jakub Moder of Brighton & Hove Albion runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United  - Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Jakub Moder of Brighton & Hove Albion runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United - Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

A freezing but raucous night under the lights at Elland Road should be just what they need to spark this spluttering season but Crystal Palace, especially since the triumph of Patball over Royball will not be easy opponents. The Glaziers/Eagles have lost on all of their previous six visits to Beeston, Wilf Zaha playing in the last three, the first of which was back in 2011. You have to go back 15 years to Jobi McAnuff's winner in 2006 when both were gunning for promotion from the Championship for Palace's last win.

But this Palace side, despite Saturday's set-back, look well-equipped to make life uncomfortable for Leeds, not just with the presence of Conor Gallagher, a player Bielsa wanted but was unable to land. He's shown just how good he is at Palace, a dynamic, all-round modern midfielder who can play as a hybrid six/eight, sitting deep with the ability to scuttle, bionic-crab-like, from touchline to touchline and the drive to go box-to-box to link up with the strikers. Add in the rejuvenated Christian Benteke, an ever-present back four, the ever-electric Zaha and the rich promise of Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze from the bench and you have a side that look a million miles away from the dour rope-a-dopers of last season.

Both teams need a win but Leeds, eager for a fillip to banish their worst fears, would welcome it with fervour and no small relief.

The kick-off is at 8.15pm - join us for the team news from 7.15pm.

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