A late goal from Jack Harrison gave Marcelo Bielsa’s side three points in a game where the Whites weren’t at their best. Reading set up solidly and were hard to break down, as well as having a couple of decent chances themselves.
FULL TIME: The referee brings the game to a close, and #LUFC defeat The Royals 1-0 thanks to Jack Harrison's late header at the Madejski— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 26, 2019
Leeds started quickly, some lovely passing moving the Whites quickly up the field through midfield from kick-off without allowing Reading a touch, but the cross took a deflection taking it away from Patrick Bamford.
Reading almost opened Leeds up in the 3rd minute. The Royals broke from a Leeds corner with Yakou Meite to quick and powerful for Pablo Hernandez, but his cross was just ahead of Romania international George Puscas.
Neither side were able to get a grip of the game early on and there were no real chances for 30 minutes, Stuart Dallas and John Swift having long-shots blocked for each side.
Nothing happened until the 33rd minute when Wales international Tyler Roberts went down injured off the ball and was sent straight down the tunnel by the Leeds medical staff. He was replaced by Helder Costa, with Pablo Hernandez moving inside. It looked like a Hamstring injury at the time.
The first good chance came on 41 minutes and was Reading’s. John Swift’s corner found Ivory Coast striker Yakou Meite who rose above Stuart Dallas (who shouldn’t really be marking him) easily - his header was powerful but too close to Kiko Casilla who saved well.
By half-time Leeds had had all the possession, but failed to register a shot on target - Meite’s header being the only good chance of the half.
Leeds started the second half brightly as well, with Hernandez and Stuart Dallas combining to find Costa down the right, but he was denied by a good tackle.
Liam Cooper had a chance in the 55th minute. He was left unmarked from a Kalvin Phillips corner but he mistimed his header and bounced harmlessly wide. It wasn’t an easy chance but he should have done better with it. Patrick Bamford then chested a bouncing ball over the bar from an excellent Mateusz Klich cross a few minutes later.
Stuart Dallas almost broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, a quick one-two on the edge of the box with Klich gave the Northern Ireland man space and his curling effort struck the crossbar with Rafael Cabral well beaten.
So close! Stuart Dallas tries his luck from outside the box with a fantastic strike, but can only watch as it cannons off the crossbar. 0-0 pic.twitter.com/1iwdSCe7QG— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 26, 2019
Reading had a great chance four minutes later. A poor free-kick was missed by Bamford and it the caused havoc, it fell to Michael Morrison at the back post but he skied his finish.
Leeds were soon up the other end, Ezgjan Alioski - who had just replaced Klich - with a decent cross from the left wing and it was Dallas again in space but his volley was weak and straight at the keeper.
All the chances were falling to Dallas. In the 73rd minute Alioski played an excellent lofted through ball for Dallas to run onto, he was unmarked but smashed the ball wide of the near post.
Reading weren’t completely without threat and Ovie Ejaria had a good shot from distance which was well blocked by a Ben White diving header and John Swift sting the palms of Casilla with a 30 yard free-kick.
Leeds goal came straight after the Swift free-kick was saved. Jack Harrison picked the ball up by the Leeds penalty area and played the ball into Stuart Dallas. The ball was played across the pitch to Alioski, he played in Portugal international Helder Costa who put in an excellent cross - where Harrison, having sprinted 80 yards, headed home at the back post.
Leeds only had six minutes to hold out, and they kept hold of the ball well to do it with little fuss. Not a great performance, but another massive win to put Leeds top of the Championship table.
Kiko Casilla - Came off his line well to deny Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria early on. Made a good save to stop and keep hold of Meite’s header late in the first half. Did well to clear a couple of corners and made a good save from a John Swift corner which Leeds scored immediately after. Lots of good quick distribution to release Leeds from deep areas. 7/10
41' Casilla is on hand to deny Meite's header with a smart stop. Less than five minutes to go of the first half. 0-0— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 26, 2019
Luke Ayling - Got forward a lot for a right-centre-back in a back three. Defended fine all game, but wasn’t faultless by any stretch. 6.5/10
Ben White - Brought the ball out from defence a lot in the first half and did well with it when he did. Good at all the usual things defensively in the first half. Second half started similarly, breaking forward to win a free-kick just outside Reading’s area, before playing a lovely reverse ball to release Ayling into the box. Defensively sound throughout. Man of the Match again for me. Described him on Twitter as playing as a box-to-box centre-back. 8/10
Liam Cooper - A couple of especially poor passes first half but was fine otherwise. Second half was better, stood up excellently in the air against a big striking pair in Puscas and Meite. 7/10
Stuart Dallas - Fine first half, popping up in many different areas. Had a couple of shots blocked in the first half. Hit the bar with a fantastic curling effort around the hour mark. Had a left foot volley saved, hit the side netting with a right-foot volley that he should have done better with. Good defensively when needed as well. 6.5/10
Kalvin Phillips - Saw a lot of the ball in the first half and rarely gave it away. Gave it away more in the second half. Although it was only five minutes - after Leeds goal he suddenly became all action helping Leeds see out the game. 6.5/10
Jack Harrison - Quiet first half. The times he did get time and space he was too wasteful in the first half. Not really in the game until scoring the winner in the 87th minute. The goal showed his excellent work rate as he started the move 15 yards from the Leeds goal line and sprinted 80 yards to get on the end of Costa’s cross. 7/10
Jack Harrison has now been directly involved in more goals (8) after 18 Championship games this season than he managed throughout the entirety of 2018/19 (7) and 39 appearances.— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) November 26, 2019
Match Winner. #LUFC pic.twitter.com/J0ZOTgBKIS
Mateusz Klich - Ended up as an auxiliary left-wing-back for a few minutes which was interesting. Not nearly enough impact in the first half. Second half also very quiet barring one excellent cross and a one-two with Dallas from which Dallas hit the bar. 5.5/10
Pablo Hernandez - Started on the right and moved into the middle after Roberts’ injury. Got into some good areas but not dangerous enough in the first half by his standards. Got on the ball a lot in the second half as Leeds pushed for a winner but was generally unable to pick out a pass when it really mattered. 6/10
Bad night at the office this.— Daz Midgley (@omicdaz) November 26, 2019
Hernandez has been well off the pace too, Dallas been our main threat
Alioski has added a bit of urgency and looks up for it #lufc
Tyler Roberts - Couldn’t get into the game, much like most of the team. Passing a bit sloppy, went off injured after half an hour. 5/10
Patrick Bamford - Very isolated in the first half and didn’t really have much chance to make an impact despite his usual good work rate. Second half was more of the same. 5.5/10
Helder Costa (for Roberts, 33mins) - Came on early and won a couple of corners, also skinned Omar Richards resulting in a yellow card for the reading left-back. Excellent cross to get the assist for Harrison’s winner. Had some good moments throughout. 7.5/10
No player created more chances than Helda Costa on the pitch tonight (3). He played only 55 minutes and registered the assist for the match winner.— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) November 26, 2019
Made the real difference for us this evening.
Provider. #LUFC #HelmetCosta pic.twitter.com/oVk3WaP1jY
Ezgjan Alioski (for Klich, 66mins) - Set up two chances for Dallas with good play. Worked hard and was involved in the move for the goal as well. A good substitute appearance. 7/10
Jamie Shackleton (for Harrison, 93mins) - Not on long enough to score. N/A