A 2-0 halftime lead was all for nought. Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds scored three unanswered goals to leave Villa Park with all three points.
Amidst a minor injury crisis at Aston Villa, manager Dean Smith was relying on several names outside his preferred starting XI. There was no Jack Grealish, Neil Taylor, or Axel Tuanzebe available due to injuries.
Leeds, too, came shorthanded with striker Patrick Bamford unavailable, while Samuel Saíz left the club abruptly two weeks ago. Furthermore, Villa were handed a boost just before kickoff. Star left-back Barry Douglas had to withdraw during warm-ups with 18-year old Leif Davis in to make his debut.
The match started well with Jonathan Kodjia testing the debutante early and often. Aston Villa’s first goal came in the 5th-minute with a sublime sliding finish from Tammy Abraham – assisted on a pullback pass from John McGinn. Villa struck again in the 17th-minute when Kodjia dribbled around Leeds’ box, finding Conor Hourihane open at the edge of the circle. The Irishman’s left-footed curler evaded Pontus Jansson and the outstretched right arm of ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
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2-0 Aston Villa inside 20 minutes.
Things were looking up, but Leeds carried on, progressively growing into the match before break. Villa were lucky when Matesz Klich’s 1 v. 1 opportunity landed straight at Ørjan Nyland.
Pablo Hernandez had a free kick spray inches wide on a free kick, while James Chester nearly deflected a header into his own net.
The opening five minutes after break were all Aston Villa. Yannick Bolasie diced his way down the Leeds’ right-flank while Jonathan Kodjia skied an open scoring opportunity inside the box.
Disaster struck in the 56th when substitute Jack Clarke had an innocuous run go undefended by Ahmed Elmohamady. That was mistake No. 1 in what is one of the worst halves of football I’ve ever seen from a single player.
Leeds struck again to equalize when Alan Hutton decided to leave the tallest player – Pontus Jansson – unattended on a set piece. Not ideal.
A chaotic second-half went both ways in terms of chances, but the away side earned three points when Elmohamady headed a long ball directly to Kemar Roofe in the fifth minute of extra time. In all, a fair result given how bad the claret and blues were after scoring their second goal. Leeds finished with 66% possession, 16 shots, and 8 corner kicks.
Automatic promotion was always a long shot, but now it looks unreachable.