Win at Bees ensures buzzing Leeds’ PL Marsch goes on
Leeds United secured their Premier League (PL) safety, as a 2-1 win at Brentford – their first at the ‘Bees’ since 1950 – was enough for Jesse Marsch’s men to avoid a seventh top-flight relegation.
At the Brentford Community Stadium, Leeds knew they could only secure avoid relegation to the Championship by bettering Burnley’s result at home to Newcastle. Their opponents, Brentford almost took the lead in the finale of their inaugural PL campaign when Yoane Wissa stabbed Christian Eriksen’s free-kick wide. Eventually, Marsch’s outfit settled in the West London sun, and Leeds had the ball in the net in the 19th minute, only for Joe Gelhardt to see his effort ruled out for a tight offside by VAR. At the other end, Illan Meslier denied Wissa before Bryan Mbeumo dragged the best chance of the first half wide, with Leeds caught attempting to play out from the back.
Early in the second half, Leeds were stuck on their heels, and a sluggish restart might have been punished had the increasingly busy Meslier not denied Mbeumo from inside the area. But Leeds were handed a huge lifeline in their bid to avoid a repeat of the 2003/04 PL campaign, when Raphinha was brought down by David Raya inside the area. After a penalty was awarded, Leeds’ Brazilian talisman cooly converted from 12 yards, sending Raya the wrong way to put his side ahead, and end Brentford’s run of four clean sheets at home.
With 78 goals conceded this season, the visitors’ defence had to finally show they could hold firm. But in their first top-flight campaign since 1946/47, Brentford pushed on, hoping to mount a comeback that would see them register the most points by a PL debutant in 15 years. Shortly after the ‘Bees’ had used all of their substitutes, they then had to play with ten men as the injured Kristoffer Ajer was unable to continue, although they still found an equaliser when substitute Sergi Canos headed home in the 78th minute.
But the match swung back in Leeds’ favour, as Canos was booked for taking his shirt off after the goal, before the substitute was then sent off three minutes later for a rash tackle on Raphinha, to leave the hosts with just nine-men. With the two-man advantage, Leeds comfortably kept the ball, before Jack Harrison hit a stunning volley in stoppage time to secure their PL status in style, as elsewhere Burnley fell to a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle.