Leeds United’s troubles in London continued as a controversial goal, a missed penalty and a Kalvin Phillips red card meant they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of QPR.
The Whites’ last win in the capital came at Loftus Road in December 2017 but Marcelo Bielsa’s men were unable to recreate that result on a glorious sunny winters day in West London.
The football certainly did not disappoint in what was a frustrating game for Leeds but an entertaining one for the neutral. Credit to Mark Warburton’s side, who looked scary going forward all afternoon and kept out the Yorkshire side.
Nahki Well’s first-half goal proved decisive, though replays showed he handled it in the build-up, but the visitors did themselves no favours, with Patrick Bamford missing a penalty and Phillips deservedly being dismissed late on.
Both sides had chances on goal in a wild, end-to-end first quarter of an hour. The hosts certainly created the better opportunities and took the lead controversially in the 20th minute.
Ebere Eze’s free-kick deflected off the head of Luke Ayling and into the path of Wells, who stroked it into the back of the net. However, replays show that the ball clearly hit the striker’s hand in the build-up.
The Whites may feel that everything went against them before the break, as they had a penalty appeal waved away in the opening exchanges for a challenge on Helder Costa–by no means a stonewall spot-kick but certainly one that you’ve seen given.
Wells’ opener did little to calm down the affair, with both sides continuing to push forward in the closing stages of the first half. The QPR striker had a chance to double the lead late on as a free-kick was floated into him inside the box but he put his volley over the bar.
Bright Osayi-Samuel was a real thorn in Leeds’ side in the first period and caused issues for left-back Stuart Dallas, who was replaced by Ezjgan Alioski at the break.
The Whites flew out of the blocks in the second half, upping the tempo and piling the pressure on their hosts–mostly thought Costa on the right.
Leeds had a golden opportunity to draw level just after the hour-mark when Bamford was brought down by QPR goalkeeper Liam Kelly. However, the Scottish keeper redeemed himself and denied Bamford’s disappointing effort from the resulting spot-kick.
Bielsa’s men didn’t lose faith, though, and continued to push for an equaliser. First, Phillips troubled Kelly with a powerful strike from outside the box and then Pablo Hernandez’s miss-hit shot fell into the path of Jack Harrison but he was unable to capitalise.
At the other end, QPR had a chance to widen the deficit with just over 20 minutes to go. A free-kick from the right-hand side dropped to Geoff Cameron inside the box but he failed to connect his swinging boot with the ball.
Leeds continued to dominate possession but just could not break through–first Bamford headed just wide and then Hernandez’s free-kick zipped inches round the post.
The Whites’ frustration showed late on when Phillips was sent off for a nasty challenge. The 24-year-old lost control of the ball and flew in high on Cameron chasing it.
The defeat means the Yorkshire club have now gone 10 games without a win in the capital and have just one victory since early December.
There were loud chants of “Leeds are falling apart again” from the QPR fans at the end and, while that may be a little premature, there are certainly concerning signs for Bielsa’s men–who could see their lead over Brentford reduced to just three points by the end of the day.
QPR, on the other hand, have moved to within four points of the top six ahead of the 3pm kick-offs, and will feel a play-off finish is far from of the question.
FULL TIME: QPR 1 – 0 Leeds United