A spectacular performance from Brazilian winger Raphinha inspired Leeds to an impressive win that moved them into the top half of the Premier League table at the expense of Crystal Palace on Monday night at Elland Road.
Marcelo Bielsa’s team started on the front foot and it took them less than three minutes to take the lead, when Jack Harrison thumped one in from the edge of the area with the help of a Gary Cahill deflection.
That was all Leeds needed to turn on the style and – led by the energy and enthusiasm of their Brazilian talisman, who spun, danced and nutmegged his way through the entire Palace team at one point or another – they took control.
They were 2-0 up within minutes of the restart, when Raphinha’s strike was parried by Vicente Guaita, but fell into the path of Patrick Bamford, who stroked in his 100th career goal.
Leeds took their foot off the gas from there but still had a few chances for goal number three. Bamford could have had a hat-trick if not for some good stops from Guaita, while Harrison rattled the bar late on as the home side completely dominated.
They would have to settle for just the two, though, but that was enough for Bielsa.
Anyway, enough chat – let’s get into some player ratings!
Ilan Meslier (GK) – 5/10 – Might as well have been watching from his couch like the rest of us.
Luke Ayling (RB) – 8/10 – Got up and down the right flank with regularity, won the ball back whenever possible, and kept things neat and tidy when he got it.
Pascal Strujik (CB) – 5/10 – Blew a couple of great headed chances in a first half where he spent more time in Palace’s box than his own.
Liam Cooper (CB) – 7/10 – Had to throw himself in the way of a few things but that’s rarely a problem for the Scotland defender.
Ezgjan Alioski (LB) – 6/10 – Deliveries from the left were sharp as the converted left-back came up with another vibrant display.
Kalvin Phillips (CDM) – 8/10 – So much of what he does goes unnoticed but that’s the beauty of a great holding midfielder.
Stuart Dallas (CM) – 7/10 – The most adventurous of Leeds’ midfielders, had a big hand in the opening goal and generally directed traffic in the middle of the pitch.
Mateusz Klich (CM) – 6/10 – Ran about quite a lot as you’d expect from a Bielsa midfielder, and did so effectively.
Raphinha (RW) – 9/10 – The best pure footballer on the pitch by an absolute mile, his flair and trickery ran the show throughout an otherwise attritional mid-table scrap. A creative genius.
Patrick Bamford (CF) – 7/10 – Saw plenty of the ball and carved out a few decent chances for himself. Was in the right place at the right time to fire in a rebound against his former club.
Jack Harrison (LW) – 7/10 – Deserves full credit for a wonderful opening goal even if a deflection helped it on its way. Could have had a second when he rattled the bar.
Jamie Shackleton (Phillips, 87) – N/A
Palace player ratings
Vicente Guaita (GK) – 6/10 – Sold out by a deflection for the first goal and sold out by a lack of any notable defending for the second.
Nathaniel Clyne (RB) – 5/10 – Kept things tight on his flank and didn’t do much overly wrong.
Scott Dann (CB) – 4/10 – Spent the entire game in Bamford’s back pocket as the striker constantly seemed to have an extra yard on him.
Gary Cahill (CB) – 4/10 – Lack of pace was brutally exposed on a few occasions and his positioning left plenty to be desired too.
Tyrick Mitchell (LB) – 4/10 – Tried to get forward now and again but was too busy being massacred by Raphinha at the other end to do so effectively. Poor guy.
Eberechi Eze (RM) – 6/10 – Tried to make things happen but his teammates weren’t really in the mood to help him out.
Luka Milivojevic (CM) – 5/10 – The captain was unusually sloppy in possession and unable to stamp any sort of authority on the midfield.
Jairo Riedewald (CM) – 6/10 – Probably the best of Palace’s midfielders but couldn’t really impact the game meaningfully.
Patrick van Aanholt (LM) – 5/10 – Energy and endeavour couldn’t make up for his desperate lack of an end product. Hooked at half-time.
Jordan Ayew (CF) – 6/10 – Some tidy link up play but had to venture way out of position to get it, mitigating any potential impact he could have on the game.
Jean-Philippe Mateta (CF) – 5/10 – A Premier League debut to forget as he was almost completely isolated.
Andros Townsend (Van Aanholt, 46) – 5/10 – Did not have the intended impact as Leeds continued to dominate.
Michy Batshuayi (Mateta, 65) – 5/10
Christian Benteke (Ayew, 76) – 4/10