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Leeds United 1-1 Luton Town: Stuart Dallas goal earns leaders draw

Stuart Dallas (left) stayed calm in a crowded penalty area to level for Leeds

Leeds United came from behind to draw with relegation-threatened Luton Town and extend their lead at the top of the Championship to four points.

It was far from a vintage performance from Marcelo Bielsa’s side, who did not get going until Harry Cornick gave the visitors a shock second-half lead with a superb curling finish on the counter.

From then on it was an onslaught from the hosts, Luton goalkeeper Simon Sluga making several good saves before Stuart Dallas had the presence of mind to control the ball inside a crowded box and place low into the net to equalise.

Leeds were the only side who looked like going on to win, Patrick Bamford losing his footing when well-placed to head home and Helder Costa failing to get good contact to a last-gasp Ezgjan Alioski cross.

The result means the Whites are now just six points clear of third-placed Brentford – who thrashed Reading on Tuesday – while Luton fall back to the bottom of the table but are now just two points from safety in a congested fight for survival.

The Hatters have won one and drawn the other two of their games since the season’s restart, with returning boss Nathan Jones continuing the fine form shown before the coronavirus suspension under predecessor Graeme Jones.

While victory for Barnsley over Blackburn on Tuesday saw them drop to the bottom of the table, they will feel boosted by the poor form of relegation rivals Huddersfield, Hull and Stoke.

Leeds take too long to get going

Leeds captain Liam Cooper stayed down for some time before receiving treatment and being substituted

Leeds were unsurprisingly unchanged from Saturday’s 3-0 demolition of promotion rivals Fulham but were forced into an early change with captain Liam Cooper forced off with a lower back injury.

Tyler Roberts was the home side’s most lively player early on, playing in Bamford for a half-chance and blasting just over himself, but once Luton weathered the early storm they looked comfortable and might have been awarded a penalty when Gaetano Berardi – who came on for Cooper before being substituted at half-time – gave the ball away and appeared to nudge over Callum McManaman in the penalty area.

Luton themselves made five changes from their surprise weekend win at Swansea, with Glen Rea getting injured in the warm-up and Danny Hylton getting his first start since March 2019.

Their breakaway goal came from a Ryan Tunnicliffe through ball which found sub Cornick, who was being shepherded by Ben White but managed to open his body and bend into the top corner past Illan Meslier.

Sluga made a great double save to stop a Kalvin Phillips free-kick and Alioski follow-up but could not keep out Dallas’ composed effort, which came three minutes after the introduction of Leeds talisman Pablo Hernandez.

Chances came for Bielsa’s side towards the end but in truth it was a frustrating first hour which led to them having to chase the game, with Luton arguably deserving to come away from an empty Elland Road with something to show for after a dogged display.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa (right) often cut a frustrated figure on the touchline

Reaction

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa: “It is a pity for us because we lost five points that weren’t difficult to win.

“In the second half Alioski and Harrison made more things. The team was more fluid with more continuity in the play.

“The opponent needed two chances to score and we needed 12 chances to score once. It’s a match that we should’ve won easily, because it was even clearer than the Cardiff match.”

Luton manager Nathan Jones: “Defensively I thought we were excellent. It’s a wonderful performance and wonderful point – I would love to be more fluent but they gave me everything and tactically we got it right.

“We denied them space and pressed in a certain way – we were very disciplined.

“It was a definite penalty for me [on McManaman] but there might’ve been a handball in the build-up. You’re certainly not getting that at a full Elland Road but I thought there’d be a better chance in an empty ground.”



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Written by Angle News

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