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Leeds 0-1 Brighton: Neal Maupay’s goal ends Seagulls’ winless league run

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Neal Maupay taps in Brighton's winner at Leeds
Neal Maupay (far right) was left unmarked to tap in Brighton’s winner

Brighton head coach Graham Potter says his side have to “take on the challenge and be brave” after boosting their survival hopes with a deserved win at Leeds United.

Neal Maupay’s winner against a lacklustre home side ended Brighton’s run of nine league games without a victory.

Top-scorer Maupay tapped in after 17 minutes following slick build-up from Alexis Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard.

Brighton hit the bar through Trossard’s deflected cross shortly after, while the Belgian fired over another good chance in the second half.

“You can talk about performance, performance, performance but at the end we know we have to get results. We know we have to get points,” said Potter.

“We have to believe we are on the right path. We are fighting for each other, which is clear, and we keep moving forward.”

Brighton’s victory means they move five points clear of third-bottom Fulham, who lost against Chelsea later on Saturday.

Leeds created little throughout and managed just two efforts on target.

With this defeat coming on the back of 3-0 losses against Tottenham and Crawley, Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa said he was “worried” by his side’s winless start to 2021.

“Of course it worries me, these are three games that we could have resolved in a different manner,” said the Argentine.

“The game against Tottenham less, but the game in the cup and the one today leave me worried.”

Bielsa’s side remain 12th in their first season back in the top flight, having taking 23 points from their opening 18 games.

Relief for Brighton as victory gives renewed belief

Brighton have not had the smoothest of seasons so far, unable to turn some positive performances into points and being decimated by injuries in recent weeks.

But, after scraping past Newport in the FA Cup and then losing narrowly at Manchester City, they capped a tough week with what they needed most at Elland Road – three points and tangible encouragement they are good enough to avoid the drop.

The relief at earning their first win since a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on 21 November was clearly evident at the final whistle, although their roars of triumph were followed by relatively restrained fist-bumps as the players remained cautious after being warned about their conduct when celebrating.

“It is a big, big win for us, a much-needed win,” said Maupay, who returned to the Seagulls side after starting on the bench against City on Wednesday.

“We have got quality we know that, but we need to keep pushing on and get more wins.”

On the evidence of this performance, there should be no reason why Brighton cannot do just that.

Graham Potter’s side were organised and resolute in defence as Leeds struggled to find their rhythm on a heavy Elland Road pitch and created little of note.

But the Seagulls also attacked intelligently at the right times, opening up the home side on several occasions.

As well as Trossard twice coming close, centre-back Adam Webster forced Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla – in for his first league start of the season for the unavailable Illan Meslierexternal-link – into a save which he had to gather at the second attempt

While they were unable to grab a second goal, there were few moments of apprehension at the other end as Potter’s side saw out a deserved victory.

Ben White playing for Brighton
It was a happy return for Brighton’s Ben White, who was a key part in Leeds’ promotion from the Championship last season – the 23-year-old lined up in midfield for the Seagulls at Elland Road and impressed in an industrious performance

Leeds’ new year hangover continues

Leeds were expected to provide a strong reaction to last weekend’s embarrassing FA Cup defeat at League Two side Crawley Town – but never got into their stride in an uninspiring display.

The pitch could have been a factor, stopping them zipping the ball about with their usual pace as they dominated possession, with the lack of tempo perhaps contributing to the lack of mental sharpness which allowed Brighton to cut them open at the back.

Defender Luke Ayling drifted off to leave Maupay unmarked for the winner, the Frenchman waiting all alone to convert Mac Allister’s square pass after his neat one-two with Trossard.

Like Brighton, Leeds have suffered their own injury problems defensively this season and were also without suspended midfielder Kalvin Phillips in this game.

The England international’s energy at the heart of their team and ability to smother dangerous breaks was sorely missed by the Whites.

Also lacking was the kind of attacking energy and tempo for which Leeds have earned plaudits this season.

Top scorer Patrick Bamford was inches away from turning home an equaliser shortly after Maupay’s opener, while substitute Tyler Roberts came close with a low shot straight at Seagulls keeper Robert Sanchez in the second half.

However, Bielsa’s side did not show enough to warrant even a point.

Why Maupay loves playing Leeds – stats of the day

  • Leeds have lost eight of their past 10 league matches against Brighton, although this was their first home defeat against the Seagulls in the top flight.
  • Each of Brighton’s past five top-flight victories have come away from home.
  • Leeds have conceded 14 league goals at Elland Road this season, as many as they shipped in 23 home games last term in the Championship.
  • Leeds have lost their first three matches in a calendar year for the first time since 2014 under Brian McDermott, when they lost their first four in all competitions.
  • Brighton’s Neal Maupay has scored more league goals against Leeds United (four in five games) than against any other opponent in his career in England.
  • Maupay became just the second player to net 10 or more Premier League away goals for Brighton after Glenn Murray (11).
  • Leeds have only had fewer shots on target in a game under Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road once previously – when they registered none against Sheffield United in 2019.

What’s next?

Leeds have a rare luxury of 10 days without a match. Wednesday’s game against Southampton was called off to allow the Saints to play their postponed FA Cup third-round tie against Shrewsbury, meaning Bielsa’s side next play at Newcastle United on 26 January (18:00 GMT).

Brighton have a week without playing and are back in action in the FA Cup fourth round against League One side Blackpool next Saturday (15:00 GMT).

The Seagulls’ next Premier League match is at home to Fulham – the team two places below them – on 27 January (19:30).

Player of the match

MaupayNeal Maupay

Leeds United

  1. Squad number11Player nameRoberts

  2. Squad number13Player nameKiko Casilla

  3. Squad number22Player nameHarrison

  4. Squad number19Player namePablo Hernández

  5. Squad number15Player nameDallas

  6. Squad number2Player nameAyling

  7. Squad number6Player nameCooper

  8. Squad number18Player nameRaphinha

  9. Squad number7Player namePoveda-Ocampo

  10. Squad number43Player nameKlich

  11. Squad number9Player nameBamford

  12. Squad number10Player nameAlioski

  13. Squad number21Player nameStruijk

  14. Squad number20Player nameRodrigo

Brighton & Hove Albion

  1. Squad number9Player nameMaupay

  2. Squad number3Player nameWhite

  3. Squad number5Player nameDunk

  4. Squad number10Player nameMac Allister

  5. Squad number4Player nameWebster

  6. Squad number34Player nameVeltman

  7. Squad number26Player nameSánchez

  8. Squad number11Player nameTrossard

  9. Squad number13Player nameGroß

  10. Squad number20Player nameMarch

  11. Squad number8Player nameBissouma

  12. Squad number33Player nameBurn

  13. Squad number24Player namePröpper

  14. Squad number22Player nameTau

Line-ups

Leeds

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 13Casilla
  • 15Dallas
  • 2AylingBooked at 42mins
  • 6Cooper
  • 10AlioskiSubstituted forHernándezat 67′minutes
  • 21Struijk
  • 22Harrison
  • 20RodrigoSubstituted forRobertsat 62′minutes
  • 43Klich
  • 18Dias BelloliSubstituted forPoveda-Ocampoat 75′minutes
  • 9Bamford

Substitutes

  • 7Poveda-Ocampo
  • 11Roberts
  • 14Llorente
  • 17Hélder Costa
  • 19Hernández
  • 24Davis
  • 25Caprile
  • 46Shackleton
  • 47Jenkins

Brighton

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 26Sánchez
  • 4WebsterBooked at 71mins
  • 5Dunk
  • 33Burn
  • 34Veltman
  • 3White
  • 13Groß
  • 20March
  • 11TrossardSubstituted forTauat 73′minutes
  • 10Mac AllisterSubstituted forBissoumaat 62′minutes
  • 9MaupaySubstituted forPröpperat 81′minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Bissouma
  • 17Alzate
  • 22Tau
  • 24Pröpper
  • 29Zeqiri
  • 31Walton
  • 41Sanders
  • 47Jenks
  • 67Khadra

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