Leeds United fell to Sheffield United 2 to 1 as a brace from former Leeds player Billy Sharp saw the Blades take all three points. Sharp scored on a fantastic volley in within the first two minutes and converted a penalty later in the match after it appeared that a Sheffield United player embellished whatever contact was made in the box after Eunan O’Kane attempted to defend on a free kick.
A handball in the box was ignored later on in the second half, but Leeds showed almost no life in the first half until Pablo Hernandez was introduced near halftime after Kemar Roofe left after sustaining an injury.
Paul Heckingbottom suffers defeat in his first match at the club, and barring a miracle, this loss will probably end the play-off dream for Leeds this season.
As good a finish as you'll see all season but unmarked near the penalty spot. Duffy's cross from the right. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 10, 2018
This match started in nightmare fashion as an unmarked Billy Sharp volleyed in an impressive goal after Duffy’s unchallenged cross was deflected by Eunan O’Kane into the box. The finish was very impressive but the defending leading up to the goal left much to be desired. Heckingbottom will have wondered exactly what he got himself into after watching that bit of questionable defending.
Despite the change in formation, the play was pretty much the same, with Sheffield United enjoying the bulk of possession in the first 20 minutes, with Leeds only having a poor effort on goal from Gjanni Alioski resulting from a free kick to show for their efforts.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga had a decent effort on goal in the 23rd minute for Leeds first real chance on goal, but his shot from approximately 25 yards out went wide right. Alioski went down in the box in the 25th minute, but given Alioski’s penchant for diving, even if there was a foul, he was never going to get it called in his favour.
Sheffield United threatened once again in a spell around the 28th minute, with a low cross that flashed in front of the Leeds goal, but no one in a red and white shirt was available to tap it home. Roofe went down injured a bit later, but was able to continue for a bit longer. He was subbed off in the 40th minute to make way for Pablo Hernandez.
Hernandez’s first action was to take a free kick in a pretty decent position that Jansson got his head on to put on the frame of goal. Jamal Blackman, the Sheffield United keeper, did well to get to the ball in what went down as the best chance for Leeds in the first half.
Sheff Utd 1-0 Leeds HT:— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) February 10, 2018
Very poor first half. Make that six goals in his last 6 starts for Billy Sharp against Leeds. Roofe, Alioski and Phillips not at the races. Upside: Still have 11 men.
Leeds went into half-time down 1-0, but at least having all of their players on the pitch for a change. Kemar Roofe went off injured in the first half, but honestly he wasn’t having the best of matches anyways. Alioski also had a pretty rough half, losing possession more than once, had more than one pass fail go astray, and his overhead shot on net failed to challenge Blackman at all.
The second-half stated out good for Leeds, as Pablo Hernandez was able to curl in a decent cross that Lasogga did very well to get a decent header from. The shot didn’t look especially threatening, but it did just enough to get past Blackman and into the back of the net to draw Leeds level.
Pablo Hernandez had a shot that was deflected wide for and Matthew Pennington had his shot from the resulting corner blocked in the box as Leeds seemed to come out of halftime looking a little more alive and up for the match.
The home side started to get a bit more pressure after Pablo Hernandez had released Kalvin Phillips in the Sheffield United box, only for Blackman to come out and grab the good attempt. The Blades heaped some pressure on the Leeds net with plenty of corner kicks and a spell of possession that featured a decent shot from Duffy that went just over the net.
Sheffield United won, and converted, a penalty on a free kick from a decent position in the Leeds half. The contact appeared to be minimal, if there was any contact at all, but O’Kane still made a needless attempt at a challenge after the Leeds players had left a Sheffield United player unmarked. Billy Sharp made no mistake from the spot, although Felix Wiedwald had guess correctly.
Hadi Sacko and Caleb Ekuba both came on as Leeds looked to try and chase the result late in the match, replacing Gjanni Alioski and Kalvin Phillips. In the 83rd minute Leeds had a bit of pressure, but Hernandez’s shot went flying over the net.
Big shout for handball against Stevens inside Blaades' box. Not given. 2-1 on 85 mins. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 10, 2018
Leeds should have had a penalty after Stevens knocked the ball away from his body with his forearm, but since Leeds can’t have nice things, nothing was given. As much as I dislike complaining about the referee, the handball was a rather spectacular miss by the ref after awarding a penalty from a Sheffield United dive in the opposite box.
Leeds were unable to claw anything back in the rest of the match and the game ended 2-1 to the hosts. Leeds will probably walk away thinking they deserved at least a point after the dodgy penalty decisions, but after a poor first half, the loss wasn’t extremely unjust. Heckingbottom will have another week to sort out the issues before Leeds host promotion hopefuls Bristol City next Sunday at Elland Road.