Leeds United feel Gayle force in big Elland Road clash
Leeds United's winning run came to an end when they came up against clinical EFL Championship leaders Newcastle at a packed Elland Road.
A goal in each half from lively striker Dwight Gayle proved the difference between the sides as the visitors went home with a 2-0 victory and the Whites were left to learn some valuable lessons.
It may have been different if referee Graham Scott, who had an inconsistent game, had spotted a blatant handball by Jack Colback in the first half which should have given Leeds a penalty and half-time parity which they had deserved.
Newcastle started much the better and looked a class part in the opening 20 minutes with the hosts off the pace in midfield especially, but Garry Monk’s men came into the game after going behind, dominated spells in the first half and could count themselves unlucky.
Gayle showed an early indication of what was to come when he got in behind the home defence on an angled run from a quickly taken free-kick, but Rob Green was out quickly to block his effort.
Matt Richie’s low shot from distance also required a save from the Leeds keeper.
The opening goal came out of the blue, though, as a mis-hit lob from Colback was only palmed down by the backpedaling Green straight to Gayle, who could not miss from a few yards out.
Leeds responded to get their first effort in on goal on 25 minutes as Chris Wood’s header flashed wide.
Luke Ayling then saw his looping header tipped over by Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow and the visitors’ defence was suddenly creaking against a string of corners with Pontus Janssen seeing a header go straight to Darlow.
Ronaldo Vieira sent a 25-yard shot over after creating space well and Kemar Roofe saw his shot deflected just wide after combining well with Souleymane Doukara.
Leeds had a first shout for a penalty when Kyle Bartley mysteriously went down in the box when trying to get on the end of a cross and even bigger claim soon after when Colback jumped to block a Vieira cross with his hands in the air. The ball hit him on the arm, but the officials failed to point to the spot and in the complaints after Janssen was booked, meaning he will now sit out a one-match suspension.
The Whites started the second half where they left off in the first as Eunan O’Kane got in the box following some nice inter-play with Roofe, but saw his low shot well saved by Darlow.
The key moment came at the other end, however, as Newcastle doubled their lead with their best move of the game as Vurnon Anita got in behind the home defence from an astute pass and his perfect low cross was turned in by the unmarked Gayle.
Leeds kept going and Ayling hit a shot that was deflected over. Darlow was forced into another save to deny Doukara’s header and there was more lucky for the visitors as the keeper kicked the ball straight against Wood and was relieved to see the ball bounced wide of his unguarded net.
It was one of those games for Leeds as the ball would not quite drop for them in the remainder and in the end Newcastle were able to see the game out comfortably enough.
Leeds head coach Monk felt his side were unlucky to lose by two goals.
He said: “We’re disappointed with the result, but I can’t complain at my players too much. It was decided on critical moments.
“We competed very well, our attitude was very good, but we fell on the wrong wide of the key moments.
“In my opinion it was a clear cut penalty and things didn’t go for us today. His hands were raised, but we didn’t get it.
“We obviously made a mistake for the first goal, which made it really difficult. But we reacted really well and in the last 15 minutes of the minutes were really on top.
“We had some half-chances and the penalty and if the ball had gone in it would have changed the game.
“There wasn’t much between the teams. Their second goal was where they showed the real quality they have.
“If you look at the game we had the better chances. We kept them to very little. We did enough to score a goal.”
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez said: “It was a great effort against a good team.
“We played well in the first half-hour more or less but the last 15 minutes of the first half was difficult for us.
“The second goal changed the game because we could control the game and the save of Karl Darlow early in the second half was important.
Leeds United 0
Newcastle United 2
(Gayle 23, 54)
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Janssen, Taylor, O’Kane, Phillips, Vieira (Sacko 63), Doukara (Antonsson 78), Roofe, Wood.
Newcastle: Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Colback (Hayden 83), Shelvey, Richie, Perez, Gouffran (Diame 76), Gayle (Mitrovic 79).
Referee: Graham Scott