Leeds United 0-1 Aston Villa
Aston Villa came out on top in this evening’s Premier League clash at Elland Road thanks to an early goal from Anwar El Ghazi.
Without talisman Jack Grealish, Dean Smith’s Villa still showed plenty of attacking flair in a game in which both teams had plenty of chances. Leeds’ star man was, once again, Raphinha who showed sparks of brilliance throughout, but Smith will be delighted by the way all 11 of his men stepped up in the absence of their captain.
Villa remain in eighth place, but now are within a point of a European place while Leeds stay tenth for now.
Highlights of the game
The Whites had a great chance to open the scoring with just 30 seconds on the clock when top scorer Patrick Bamford made his way into the Villa penalty area and when his mis-hit shot looped up towards Raphinha at the far post he was close to converting.
But he didn’t, and Villa did just five minutes later.
This time Ollie Watkins slipped and scooped his shot up into the path of Anwar El Ghazi, and he made no mistake, taking a touch before slamming the ball home.
El Ghazi had a taste for goals and he tried his luck again minutes later, hitting a fierce drive which Illan Meslier tipped over the bar. The Dutch attacking midfielder brought another good save from Meslier and then scuffed his next effort just wide of the post.
Whenever Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are in action there is going to be excitement at both ends of the pitch, and when Raphinha had a shot blocked it fell to Tyler Roberts who let fly and Emiliano Martinez did well to beat the ball away. Brazilian forward Raphinha ran the Southampton defence ragged last week, and he was on his game again today, showing a turn of brilliance, midway through the first half, to turn John McGinn inside out and then jinking his way into the penalty area before the Villa defence desperately cleared.
Just before the break Raphinha stretched the Villa backline again and dinked a dangerous cross over, but Bamford’s run was too late. The Brazilian has been big Premier League 2021 news in recent weeks; he’s still only 24 years old and is sure improve, which is a tantalising prospect for Leeds fans.
After a breathless first half, the opening 15 minutes of the second period were quiet, and we were three quarters of the way through the game before Tyrone Mings met a cross from El Ghazi and his header was deflected just over the bar by Liam Cooper.
Bielsa brought Pablo Hernandez on and the Spanish midfielder almost made an immediate impact when his well struck shot was deflected wide for a corner. And then, with time ticking away Raphinha had a golden chance to earn a point when he met a brilliant cross from Jack Harrison but this time he got his header all wrong.
Coming into this game on the back of a 3-0 victory over Southampton the Leeds vs Aston Villa betting odds backed this hosts at 2.16 to win, but they had an uphill battle once El Ghazi had given the Villains a half time lead.
It was a great game to watch for the neutrals, particularly the first half, as Leeds dominated possession and won the shot count by 13 to eight, but Villa had four on target to Leeds’ three.
Any team would miss a player as influential as Jack Grealish but Ollie Watkins showed his worth today as he had his 13th involvement in a goal, making his third assist to add to his ten goals, while El Ghazi put in a man-of-the-match performance.
In terms of head to heads, Villa have drawn level with Leeds at ten victories each, and they have won at Elland Road for the first time in seven encounters dating back to 2000.
The top drawer action just keeps on coming for SBOTOP football fans, and Leeds’ next game will present another serious test when they come up against high flying West Ham on Monday 8th May. The Hammers have been in superb form, rising to fourth in the table and they pushed runaway leaders Manchester City all the way on Saturday, losing to the odd goal in three.
Meanwhile Villa are away to Sheffield United this Wednesday when they hope Grealish will be available. The Blades are deep in the relegation mire but, even so, they are never an easy touch.
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