Leeds out of bottom three with victory at Wolves

BBC - Sport

Sport / BBC - Sport 3 Views comments

Rasmus Kristensen scores Leeds United's third goal in their Premier League match with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux
Rasmus Kristensen scored Leeds' third moments after entering the fray in the second half

Leeds climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone after holding off a late Wolves fightback to win an enthralling game at Molineux.

The victory lifts Javi Gracia's side - who started the day in 19th - four places and two points above the bottom three.

Jack Harrison, who scored in last weekend's 2-2 draw at home to Brighton, side-footed Wilfried Gnonto's cut-back past Jose Sa to give the visitors an early lead after a bright start.

Leeds doubled their advantage four minutes into the second half as Luke Ayling, left completely unmarked by the Wolves defence, beat Sa with a low header from point-blank range.

More questionable defending from Jonny gifted second-half substitute Rasmus Kristensen a third moments after the Dane's introduction, before the Wolves defender gave his team hope with a tremendous volleyed finish after Illan Meslier had come rushing out of his goal to make a clearance.

Matheus Cunha's deflected strike set up a nail-biting finale, but Wolves' hopes of a dramatic comeback were dealt a blow when Jonny was shown a straight red card for a reckless, studs-up challenge on Ayling with just over six minutes remaining.

Rodrigo completed the scoring deep into added time, lifting the ball over the onrushing Sa for his 11th league goal of the campaign.

"I enjoyed [the game] more in the first half," Gracia told BBC Match of the Day afterwards. "In the second half we suffered a lot.

"We knew before coming here it would be a very demanding game. After scoring three goals we maybe thought the game was over.

"My players deserve their reward. To win here, they did many things well."

Julen Lopetegui's Wolves side stay 13th but remain only three points above the relegation zone, having played at least a game more than the majority of their rivals near the foot of the table.

Rare away success breathes life into Leeds survival bid

Leeds have shown plenty of promise in their two home games under new manager Gracia but had lost both games away from Elland Road under the 52-year-old - at Fulham in the FA Cup and Chelsea in the league - prior to Saturday.

The visitors certainly didn't start like a team with only one top-flight victory on their travels this season, taking the game to Wolves and going in front with just six minutes on the clock.

Gnonto, restored to the side in place of Crysencio Summerville, was particularly lively early on and vindicated his manager's decision with a brilliant cut-back into Harrison, who side-footed home his second goal in as many games.

The visitors had their backs to the wall for the rest of the first half as Wolves applied heavy pressure, but a combination of smart goalkeeping, last-ditch defending and wasteful finishing ensured they went into half-time with their narrow lead intact.

Second-half goals from Ayling - his first since scoring in Leeds' 3-2 win at Molineux on 18 March last year - and Kristensen gave Leeds a seemingly comfortable platform for a rare away success, but Jonny's spectacular finish and Cunha's low effort - which took a heavy deflection off Maximilian Wober on its way in - offered Wolves an unlikely lifeline.

Ayling was fortunate to escape serious injury when Jonny caught the Leeds skipper with a high challenge after a heavy touch, but the 31-year-old was back on his feet quickly to help the visitors see out the victory.

Rodrigo's late effort was subject to a VAR review for an apparent foul by Marc Roca on Adama Traore in the build-up, but after viewing the incident on his pitchside monitor referee Michael Salisbury decided to award the goal.

Wolves frustrated on eventful afternoon for Jonny

Wolves were adamant they should have been awarded a penalty at St James' Park last weekend, and they were no less incensed by Salisbury's failure to award a spot-kick after Junior Firpo appeared to clip Nelson Semedo in the area minutes after Harrison's opener.

Lopetegui looked on bemused as the video assistant referee confirmed Salisbury's original decision, before making his feelings plain to fourth official Andre Marriner.

However, the hosts could have no complaints with the decision to dismiss Jonny, who had an eventful afternoon to say the least.

The 29-year-old should have cleared a low cross in the build-up to Leeds' third but failed to adequately shield the ball under pressure from Kristensen, who found the far corner with a drilled finish.

Jonny then got Wolves on the scoresheet with a magnificent 35-yard volley after Roca had headed Meslier's clearance into his path.

But the defender's afternoon ended on a sour note after his dismissal for the challenge on Ayling. There was no intent from the Spaniard, but Salisbury wasted little time in brandishing the red card after being told to review the tackle on his monitor.

Unused substitute Matheus Nunes was also shown a red card deep into second-half stoppage time after remonstrating with the officials in the aftermath of Rodrigo's late goal.

After conceding four for the first time since October, Wolves' meeting with Nottingham Forest after the international break now takes on added importance.

Player of the match

HarrisonJack Harrison

with an average of 8.42

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  1. Squad number37Player nameTraoré

    Average rating


  2. Squad number8Player nameRúben Neves

    Average rating


  3. Squad number1Player nameJosé Sá

    Average rating


  4. Squad number22Player nameNélson Semedo

    Average rating


  5. Squad number23Player nameKilman

    Average rating


  6. Squad number15Player nameDawson

    Average rating


  7. Squad number9Player nameJiménez

    Average rating


  8. Squad number7Player namePedro Neto

    Average rating


  9. Squad number10Player nameDaniel Podence

    Average rating


  10. Squad number12Player nameMatheus Cunha

    Average rating


  11. Squad number5Player nameLemina

    Average rating


  12. Squad number35Player nameJoão Gomes

    Average rating


  13. Squad number28Player nameJoão Moutinho

    Average rating


  14. Squad number21Player nameSarabia

    Average rating


  15. Squad number4Player nameCollins

    Average rating


  16. Squad number19Player nameJonny

    Average rating


Leeds United

  1. Squad number11Player nameHarrison

    Average rating


  2. Squad number39Player nameWöber

    Average rating


  3. Squad number29Player nameGnonto

    Average rating


  4. Squad number25Player nameKristensen

    Average rating


  5. Squad number19Player nameRodrigo

    Average rating


  6. Squad number2Player nameAyling

    Average rating


  7. Squad number5Player nameKoch

    Average rating


  8. Squad number1Player nameMeslier

    Average rating


  9. Squad number21Player nameStruijk

    Average rating


  10. Squad number10Player nameSummerville

    Average rating


  11. Squad number8Player nameRoca

    Average rating


  12. Squad number28Player nameMcKennie

    Average rating


  13. Squad number3Player nameFirpo

    Average rating


  14. Squad number9Player nameBamford

    Average rating


  15. Squad number7Player nameAaronson

    Average rating