Leeds – Wolves narrowly avoided rounding out a day full of 0-0 draws, as the visitors left Elland Road with a late 1-0 victory and all three points on Monday.
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The 2020-21 Premier League season’s first 46 games featured zero scoreless draws. Game no. 47 broke the starting streak, and game no. 48 very nearly joined the impotence.
Alas, Raul Jimenez provided the day’s lone moment of magic (which actually counted) to catapult Nuno Espirito Santo’s side nine places up the PL table, all the way up to sixth.
2 things we learned: Leeds – Wolves
1. Wolves defensively solid, but absent going forward: On the one hand, there’s something to be said for a side that can be as defensively solid and well-drilled as Nuno’s side: they’ll almost always find themselves in a game with a chance to earn a result. On the other hand, there’s also something to be said of a side that foregoes the attacking half of the game in the name of that defensive solidity: you end up dropping more points when you fail to win than you do when you manage to draw. There has to be a better balance for Wolves, given the financial investment made and the abundance of attacking talent on hand.
2. Leeds looking long for the PL: Speaking of striking the right balance between attack and defense, Leeds look comfortable in all phases of the game — whether that be defending deeper, pressing higher, counter-attacking, or breaking the opponent down with prolonged periods of possession. Marcelo Bielsa’s side looks nothing like a newly promoted team, and they look set to become a mainstay of the PL for years to come.
Leeds saw an early penalty shout go unheard in the 9th minute, when Helder Costa appeared to have been tripped by Joao Moutinho inside Wolves’ penalty area.
Bielsa’s bunch went close to opening the scoring in the 31st minute, but Luke Ayling’s well-hit shot was blocked by the lone body standing between the ball and the back of the net. Jack Harrison’s cross was headed out to the top of the penalty area, where Ayling was waiting to take one touch and fire low and toward the far post. Fortunately for Wolves, Max Kilman was in the perfect position to boot it clear.
Wolves had grown into the game by the time the first half was wrapping up with a golden opportunity coming in the final seconds of stoppage time. Daniel Podence found himself in acres of space near the penalty spot, and he struck the ball with power and precision, but Meslier reacted well to thump it clear.
Wolves finished the first half with just the two shots, compared to nine for Leeds.
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Leeds would have felt hard done by Romain Saiss’s stinning opener in the 53rd minute, but it was taken off the board after video review determined Podence was offside during the build-up — a shame, as Saiss struck the ball ever so sweetly after popping it up for himself on the edge of the box.
That chance undeniably breathed life into Wolves as they turned up the pressure in the minutes that followed. Podence unleashed another laser destined for the back of the net just two minutes later, but again Meslier was all over it, this time pushing it around the post at full-stretch.
Finally, after 70 minutes of frustration, Wolves broke through with a bit of good fortune falling their way. Credit to Jimenez, though, as he went one-on-three to retain possession and fashion his half-chance out of nothing. Meslier would have had a routine save to make, if not for Kalvin Phillips getting his head to the ball and heading it into his own net.