Leeds climb out of bottom three with win

Both Leeds United and Nottingham Forest were looking nervously over their shoulder ahead of this game, as one point separated the pair in their battle to avoid the drop. A loss would send either of these sides into an even more precarious position, in yet another relegation six-pointer. 

LEE: Meslier; Ayling, Firpo, Koch, Struijk; Roca, McKennie; Aaronson, Sinisterra, Harrison; Bamford

NFO: Navas; Williams, Felipe, Niakhate, Toffolo; Mangala, Freuler, Danilo; Johnson, Gibbs-White; Dennis

Forest started the brighter of the two sides as Dennis rattled the post early on, and their pressure paid off just a few moments later as the Nigerian was involved again – finding Mangala on the edge of the box. He steered in a lovely strike into the bottom-right corner to silence Elland Road early on.

Leeds reacted well and Elland Road started to wake up – with their deficit only lasting nine minutes. On the twenty-minute mark, Roca hit a long-range effort that could only be parried into the path of their man-in-form Jack Harrison, who had the simplest of tasks to slot past Navas. In doing so, Harrison bagged his third goal in four games.

It was a great response from the Yorkshiremen as they began to get a grip of the game and started dominating the possession. They had an excellent chance to take the lead as Harrison was involved again, steering a low ball across the box but neither Bamford or Sinisterra could get firm enough contact to finish into an almost empty net. 

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Leeds took the lead right on half-time through Luis Sinisterra, who took the roof off Elland Road as he picked up the ball on the left-side of the box, taking on every challenger before wrapping an excellent strike into the bottom-right corner of Navas’ goal. Thanks to Sinisterra, Javi Gracia’s team talk might have been just a little happier as they went into the interval ahead.

Steve Cooper made some early second-half alterations as Taiwo Awoniyi and Jonjo Shelvey replaced the goal scorer Mangala and Danilo. The two substitutes combined as Shelvey nearly found the striker through on goal, but he could not sort his feet out and he was denied. Despite such positive substitutions for Forest, it was Leeds that continued to pose the main threat – Sinisterra nearly grabbed his second, with a carbon copy of his opener but this one was just inches wide. 

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All five substitutes were used up by Cooper, with Kouyate, Andre Ayew and Scarpa coming on for Freuler, Dennis and Gibbs-White. It was Leeds that continued to dominate however, nearly finding themselves a third as Neco Williams’ misplaced header was sent into the path of Patrick Bamford but he could not make the most of a glorious opportunity, firing wide. 

As the end of the game drew ever closer, nails were beginning to be bitten and prayers were being made by both sets of fans. Leeds were throwing limbs in all over the place to deny every Forest chance, but despite some late pressure from the visitors, it was Javi Gracia’s side that took the three points as the referee blew his whistle. The chorus of cheers and relief around Elland Road was deafening.  

It was a huge win for Leeds United, as they now climb out of the bottom-three and up to 13th with the first half deciding the course of the game. Forest do not fall into the relegation zone because of Bournemouth and Leicester’s defeats to Brighton and Aston Villa respectively – they are 17th as they have a superior goal difference to the Cherries.

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