The Leeds United player knew exactly how crucial this game was, with Mateusz Klich labelling the Burnley fixture at Elland Road a “must win”. Much like last season’s game against Barnsley, Leeds managed to scrape through despite a poor performance as Patrick Bamford won the game from the penalty spot.
It came inside five minutes as Luke Ayling launched a brilliant long-ball over the top into Bamford, who shifted the ball away from the oncoming keeper who brought Bamford down as the referee pointed to the spot. Bamford took the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way and nestling the ball into the top-right corner.
⚽ Bamford's pen gives Leeds the lead!— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 27, 2020
Watch the incident that allowed Patrick Bamford to open the scoring from the spot.
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Raphinha came close to doubling the lead on 16 minutes as his header looped over the bar as Pope was caught between the Brazilian and the goal-line. The linesman called offside but had he scored it might’ve been given.
Burnley had the ball in the net soon after but the referee blew his whistle for a foul on Meslier before the ball crossed the line. It’s a tricky situation for the referee as Ben Mee is arguably not impeding the keeper enough for the ref to blow the whistle as The Whites were let-off with one from yet another set-piece.
Leeds came close on the half-hour mark as Raphinha stole the ball on the right before holding his marker off and squaring the ball across goal to Harrison. He was just one of four players racing towards it but he took the shot and the keeper was well-placed to make the save despite the glorious chance.
Burnley went up the pitch and came close themselves as former White, Chris Wood rose highest against Ayling to head just over the bar from point-blank range at the back post from a Westwood cross.
Leeds finished the half fairly strongly with Raphinha and Rodrigo coming close to doubling the lead but the game totally changed when both sides returned from the break. Burnley pushed The Whites even higher up the pitch and ended up dominating much of the possession in the second period of play.
Sean Dyche’s side had much of the ball and caused problems but struggled to trouble Illian Meslier for much of their time going forward. Hernandez came on and almost scored for Leeds on 72 minutes as he led a counter attack from a Burnley cross which was cleared by Struijk’s header and Alioski’s acrobatics. By the time he took his shot at goal it was 5v2 in Leeds’ favour, but his curled strike was well saved by the keeper.
Burnley gave Leeds a lot to think about as the game closed out with corner after corner forcing Meslier into action. It’s clear as day that Meslier has new instructions to be more aggressive when dealing with set-pieces, and he did pretty well but in future we’ll be looking for more catches and fewer punches.
Illian Meslier has made 62 saves in the Premier League this season, only Sam Johnstone has made more (63).— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) December 27, 2020
No side would want their goalkeeper to be so heavily exposed, but our 20-year-old shotstopper has excelled so far in his debut Premier League season. #LUFC https://t.co/ep6p9IuW1o
In the end Leeds managed to hang on to all three points in what was a must-win came for The Whites. It’s a quick turnaround for the next game though as we now look ahead to the second-half of this crucial double-header of fixtures, as Leeds United travel to West Bromwich Albion.