REPORT: Leeds United 1 Blues 0

Kalvin Phillips bagged the only goal in the 65th minute, ironically after an excellent period of pressure by Blues.


Blues endured a narrow loss to league pacesetters Leeds United.

Kalvin Phillips bagged the only goal in the 65th minute, ironically after an excellent period of pressure by Blues.

But the good spell counted for nothing as Blues were caught after a careless pass and error in concentration let Leeds in for the chance.

Blues readjusted their game and were more proactive after the break following a difficult first-half.

They took the match to Leeds, played their football, and might have got reward had it not been for that telling lapse.

Blues started amid a pumped-up atmosphere at Elland Road, as Leeds celebrated their centenary.

There was a parade of legends - including Terry Cooper and Chris Whyte - fireworks and associated pyrotechnics before kick-off.

Blues, unchanged, kept their minds on the task in hand and shut out all the hullabaloo around them.

Apart from a Ezgjan Alioski shot that stung the hands of Lee Camp, Blues negotiated the opening 15 minutes without real alarm

Leeds had adjusted their line-up, going with three at the back, that meant Blues wide players had to do a lot of work going the other way as numbers swamped into the midfield and in the forward areas.

Blues got pinned in but defended well, with Harlee Dean, Marc Roberts getting in a couple of timely blocks and challenges to stop danger and at a succession of corners they had to focused.

Jude Bellingham took the ball off Mateuz Klich's toes in a vital moment, with a sliding challenge, as Leeds teed him up to shoot from just outside the area.

The pressure was growing and growing on Blues, who tried to get out and higher up the pitch to stop the urgent attacks of their hosts to little avail.

In the 28th minute, Blues lost possession after taking a quick free-kick and Leeds broke, on the left, but thankfully Patrick Bamford drilled his attempt just wide of the far post from inside the area.

And then, with 38 minutes gone, Leeds almost caught Blues on a counter attack, with a long ball from the left by Alioski that got Bamford in, down the centre.

He played an extravagant backheel to Helder Costa and Maxime Colin blocked the first attempt, the ball was then played to Stuart Dallas, whose stinging shot was parried away by Camp before being cleared in front of him by Roberts.

Blues were thankful for the interval whistle as it had been a very tough examination for them.

They had defended their box when necessary very well and showed commendable determination to ensure Leeds, for all their possession and intention to make the pitch big and force overloads, didn't get clear lines of sight or many clear openings at Camp's goal.

Half-time: Leeds 0 Blues 0

Leeds made a change at the break, replacing Bamford with Eddie Nketiah.

And he was instantly involved, diving forward under challenge by Dean to earn his team a debatable free-kick, on the right angle of Blues area. It was taken and hit - well wide by Alioski.

Blues found a bit more rhythm early on and from one nice passing move, involving Colin foraging infield, Fran Villalba shifted the ball out of his feet and fired a searing 25-yarder that had Kiko Casilla diving at full stretch as it only just went past the post.

Blues squeezed up a lot more and gave Leeds something to think about by committing to playing, even in tight area, better than they did in the first period. The game was taking on a different complexion.

In the 58th minute a barnstorming dribble forward by Dean almost resulted in a goal. He kept on going, exchanged a pass with Lukas Jutkiewicz to get in behind, in the area,

and although he scuffed a cross-shot, Alvaro Gimenez got onto it, took a touch to set himself and was only denied by a brave close range sliding challenge from Ben White.

Next Blues had a shout for a penalty when Gimenez went over amid a tangle of legs. Blues were in the midst of a good spell and Leeds were not getting it their way at all.

But, out of nowhere, Leeds took the initiative when Blues got themselves in a muddle when trying to play out and through the home side press.

A ball turned round the corner by Bellingham caught Colin off guard and looking downfield, it was taken off him, on the inside, by Jack Harrison. He drove on and then laid it back into the path of Phillips to hammer it past Camp from 12 yards.

It was tough on Blues, who had dominated for a 20 minute spell after the interval.

Jacques Maghoma came on and, in the 71st minute, a rasping left-footer from outside the box by Bellingham had to be fisted away and behind by Casilla.

Jutkiewicz then fired in a shot on the turn from a nice interchange involving Villalba and Bellingham as Blues strived to get back into proceedings.

Alioksi missed a glorious chances, coming in from the left after a throw, to lift the ball high over Camp's crossbar from a narrow angle in the area before Blues made a double switch: Odin Bailey and Gary Gardner entering the fray.

After a powerful surge down the right from his own half by Gardner, Casilla came charging out of his area to clear, did so - but straight to Villalba's feet. With the goal unguarded,

Villalba tried to send the ball into the net from fully 40 yards but it struck a player's head en route due to a low trajectory.

Blues continued to press, probe and play with more urgency in the final 10 minutes, leaving Leeds with a sweat on.

In the third minute of added-time Blues fashioned a superb move deep on the right, Dean dropped his shoulder on the byline and clipped a ball to the far post where Kristian Pedersen rose and agonisingly glanced it wide of the target.

That was that for Blues, as nothing would quite go their way or drop for them despite all their effort and they had to make do with a frustrating defeat on Leeds big party day.

And to add to their misery, Gardner had to limp off injured just after taking a free-kick that struck the wall in added-time as Blues turned the screw during that tense finale.

Leeds (3-4-3): Casilla, Ayling, Berardi, White, Dallas, Phillips, Alioski, Klich (Roberts 62), Harrison, Bamford (Nktiah ht), Costa (Douglas 84). Subs not used: Miazek, Gotts, Davis, Clarke.

Goal: Phillips (65)

Booked: Alioski (42)

Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Dean, Roberts, Crowley (Maghoma 66), Sunjic, Bellingham (Gary Gardner 76), Villalba, Gimenez, Jutkiewicz (Bailey 76). Subs not used: Stockdale, Harding, Clarke-Salter, Davis.

Booked: Jutkiewicz (20), Sunjic (43)

Referee: R Jones

Attendance: 35,731