Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison strikes lift Leeds into Premier League top half

FPL360
FPL360
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Goals from Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison clinched an effortless Leeds win that lifted Marcelo Bielsa’s newly-promoted team into the top half of the Premier League and continued to enhance the reputation of those two players in particular.

Both Harrison, in his third straight season on loan at Elland Road from Manchester City, and top scorer Bamford are among a handful of Leeds players to have made a smooth transition to the top flight.

Their form has even had them talked about as outside candidates for Gareth Southgate’s European Championship squad this summer and this was another occasion that added support for that movement.

More generally, this was a welcome home win for a Leeds side whose unpredictable season has been highlighted by the vastly superior away form they have displayed — twice as many wins, six, coming on their travels.

With just three home victories all season, therefore, an early, pressure-lifting goal was exactly what Bielsa needed and exactly what Harrison delivered, two minutes, 35 seconds into the game.

And, given Palace’s wretched record without the injured Wilfried Zaha in their line-up — 17 defeats in 19 games now — the goal always looked likely to be the foundation for the win, even allowing for some subsequent terrible finishing from Harrison’s team-mates during a first half in which their dominance was almost absolute.

Bamford’s near-post header, from Ezgjan Alioski’s tempting cross, forced a brilliant save out of Vincente Guaita at the foot of his post and then the number nine raced clear, after intercepting a lazy pass from Luka Milivojevic inside his own half, before chipping over.

There were also two golden headed chances late in the first half for Pascal Struijk who mis-timed both efforts and missed the target by some distance.

But, fortunately for Bielsa, Harrison was far more convincing with his early opportunity, although his goal enjoyed the benefit of a significant deflection off Gary Cahill on its way into the Palace goal.

Palace were again guilty of giving the ball away cheaply, as debutant Jean-Philippe Mateta was dispossessed by Mateusz Klich. A pass to Stuart Dallas and he released Harrison whose shot from just inside the area beat Guaita.

Roy Hodgson’s side, badly hampered by injuries and absentees, were a non-factor, Leeds keeper Illan Meslier a virtual spectator until the manager threw on Andros Townsend as a half-time sub.

But, still, Palace could not deal with that high Leeds press and were guilty of contributing to their own downfall after 51 minutes with Scott Dann’s terrible clearance failing to clear halfway.

Kalvin Phillips intercepted, Klich played through Raphina and his blistering shot was well blocked by Guaita but only as far as Bamford who steadied himself superbly before slotting a composed finish into the open net from 12 yards.

It was a sweet moment for the 27-year-old striker, and not just because it was his 12th league goal of the campaign. In 2015, the then-Chelsea forward spent a miserable half-season on loan at Selhurst Park, never starting a league game and failing to hit the net in nine appearances.

Bamford might have had another, his header from Luke Ayling’s cross steered straight at the keeper, while Struijk couldn’t quite scramble in a close-range effort from a corner and Harrison struck the bar late on.

Palace at least showed a pulse, even if the prognosis was terminal, with Eberechi Eze blazing a great opening high and Townsend shooting straight at Meslier although it summed up the game’s pattern that Guaita was soon called upon to keep out a sharp Dallas shot.

LEEDS (4-1-4-1): Meslier 6; Ayling 7, Struijk 7, Cooper 6, Alioski 6; Phillips 7 (Shackleton 88); Raphina 9, Klich 6, Dallas 8, Harrison 8; Bamford 7.

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-4-2): Guaita 8; Clyne 6, Dann 5, Cahill 5, van Aanholt 5 (Townsend 45, 7); J Ayew 6 (Benteke 76, 5), Milivojevic 5, Riedewald 6, Mitchell 6; Mateta 5 (Batshuayi 65, 5), Eze 5.

Referee: A Marriner 7



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