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

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

Brighton boosted their Premier League survival hopes as Neal Maupay’s winner against a lacklustre Leeds United ended a run of nine league games without a win.

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.

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

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

Leeds 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 narrowly beaten 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 isolating Illan Meslier – 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.

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 tempo as they dominated possession, 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 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.

Substitute Tyler Roberts came the closest with a low shot straight at Seagulls keeper Robert Sanchez in the second half, but the hosts did not show enough to avoid slipping to a third defeat in three games in 2021.

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).

More to follow.

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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