While the end result wasn’t a surprise, the way in which Leeds United lost to Aston Villa wasn’t as expected. Villa looked dominant in the first half, topped off by a goal scored by Lewis Grabban from a cross from Jack Grealish. That would be all Villa needed to win, as Leeds looked rather poor going forward and, apart from a short stretch of time at the beginning of the second half, were obviously second best the whole match.
Leeds started the match on the back foot, and with a young defence in front of a young keeper, it was to be expected. Leeds did well to put a chance out for a corner in the 11th minute, and Bailey Peacock-Farrell made a good save in the 14th minute on shot from a wide-open Robert Snodgrass.
18' Kodjia tries to latch onto a long through ball, but Peacock-Farrell is alert, he comes out of his box and heads away 0-0— Leeds United (@LUFC) April 13, 2018
Peacock-Farrell did well to come off his line to head the ball into touch, but Villa were able to win a free-kick after Pablo Hernandez “fouled” Snodgrass, but the free kick was shot directly into the wall by Snodgrass, and Leeds were able to clear the ball.
Peacock-Farrell was able to bat away another shot/cross in the 23rd minute as Villa continued to put pressure on Leeds. Leeds had a break with Caleb Ekuban running towards goal, but he fell down outside of the Villa box and no foul was given and Villa was back on the attack.
Leeds were made to pay in the 29th minute after Jack Grealish was left alone to cross after Leeds stopped playing, expecting the ball to go out of play. Grealish picked out Lewis Grabban just outside the six-yard box and made no mistake on the header. Matthew Pennington was rooted to the ground and made no attempt to contest the open header.
Leeds continued to play like a League One team against a Premiership club, as the team was unable to string a few passes together in the Villa half while Aston Villa was able to pass the ball around without much trouble.
A feeling of inevitability about this. If Villa wanted to go for the jugular, they could finish this off. Leeds have had possession in good areas but have let it get away from them time and again. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) April 13, 2018
Halftime came after only one minute of stoppage time. Honestly, only being down by one goal felt like a let-off, as Villa absolutely played Leeds off the pitch. A number of good chances went begging for Villa while Leeds looked extremely poor going forward. Peacock-Farrell was the best Leeds player by a mile during the first half, as most of the rest of the team seemed unable to string a few passes together or even make a decent attempt on goal.
Caleb Ekuban completed 3 passes for Leeds tonight before being substituted, one of which was following the restart after Aston Villa's opening goal. He registered no shots, chances created, successful take-ons, crosses, tackles or interceptions. That's why he was taken off. #LUFC— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) April 13, 2018
CHANCE: Corner in, Phillips strikes it but Villa have a defender on the far post who head off the line. 1-0 on 50 mins. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) April 13, 2018
Samu Saiz came on for the ineffective Ekuban at the start of the second half, and his inclusion seemed to pick up the spirits of the team. Leeds won a few corners, and the best chance Leeds had up to this point came in the 50th minute as Phillips had a good shot that had to be cleared off the line by a Villa defender.
CHANCE: Kodjia lathes onto the ball inside the box but BPF stands up to flick it away and then beats away a shot at the second attempt. 1-0 on 62 mins. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) April 13, 2018
Peacock-Farrell made a pair of brilliant saves in the 62nd minute as a Kodjia was unmarked and all alone in front of net. Peacock-Farrell’s play during the match was one of the few positives in this game from a Leeds perspective.
Saiz helped Leeds to almost look like a proper football team in the second half, as the team looked to try and take the game to Villa and get an equalising goal.
Top save - Grealish with a lovely chip to Adomah, BPF comes to meet him and blocks the volley with his legs. 1-0 on 76 mins. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) April 13, 2018
Again, Villa were able to break into the Leeds box with relative ease and only the goalkeeping heroics of BPF kept Adomah from scoring a goal. Both Kemar Roofe and Gjanni Alioski were taked off before the 80th minute of the game, as Leeds looked to chase the game, but they were replaced by Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Jay-Roy Grot, so whatever flowing football that was played by Leeds in the minutes after Saiz was introduced was immediately stopped as Lasogga and Grot seemed to kill off the momentum that had been building up by the side.
Pennington stopped a great scoring opportunity in the 84th minute with a brilliant tackle, one of the few times that Pennington looked like a competent defender all game, as he seemed to run down Scott Hogan and made a perfectly timed tackle to strip Hogan of the ball and stop a scoring threat. However, Leeds were still unable to make anything from whatever possession they won , as the passing was often extremely limited and failed to really threaten Villa at all.
Leeds failed to score at all in the last three minutes of stoppage time as Villa looked content to see the match out. It wasn’t the mauling most people expected, but Aston Villa was still able to do enough to put themselves firmly in the playoffs and with an outside chance of catching Fulham for 2nd place and the automatic promotion spot.