Leeds United are still alive after Pascal Struijk's injury-time header against Brighton

It is all down to the last game of the season now for Leeds United as Pascal Struijk's injury-time header gave them a possible lifeline at a pumped up Elland Road.

By Tony Harber
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 6:19 pm

After Burnley had lost to Tottenham earlier in the day the Whites had a chance to climb back out of the relegation places, but found themselves trailing to a 21st minute Danny Welbeck goal until substitute Struijk popped up with a header from close range following a brilliant piece of skill by Joe Gelhardt.

The crowd had been hugely supportive to stay together in the fight to avoid the drop, but the shouts of discontent and shouts for Marcelo Bielsa were getting louder before the last-gasp attack changed the mood dramatically.

Gelhardt dribbled past several defenders on the by-line and followed it with a perfect chip for Struijk to score a goal that means Leeds can still stop up if they win at Brentford in their last match of the season.

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Pascal Struijk celebrates his late equaliser for Leeds United against Brighton that gives the Whites a chance of stopping up in the Premier League.

They are now a point above Burnley and although they have played a game more and it is still not in their own hands they have at least given themselves a chance of stopping up.

Head coach Jesse Marsch was pleased with the desire shown by his team to keep going to the finish and thought his team could have taken all three points..

He said: "In the first half I didn't feel that we were good enough in any phase. In the second half we pushed pretty well and we were unlucky not to come along with a little more.

"I said to them (at half-time) 'we can have no doubts. Keep pushing, keep pushing. You have to believe.

"We wanted compactness. eliminating their running into space behind. Try to adjust our pressing to win more balls and get it into the attacking half. It looks at the break were not 100 per cent believing.

"We made some adjustments, had no doubts and pushed. Did that really well and emptied their tanks and did so much to what could be a massive moment for us. We have given ourselves a chance.

"We are alive right now. We fight for every point and any point gets us closer. Burnley and Everton have games in hand. We need some help, but we will be ready for next weekend."

Unlike recent games Leeds looked somewhere closer to their attacking best as they played front foot football again and were unlucky not to take the lead in the second minute when Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez - who went on to have a great game - dropped the ball from a corner. Gelhardt quickly pounced only to see his goalbound volley hit teammate Liam Cooper.

Brighton settled to play some good football themselves and got in behind the hosts' defence a number of times, the first seeing Welbeck's efforts blocked and saved then Solly March shooting wide with only home keeper Illan Meslier to beat.

Gelhardt looked lively for the hosts and his snap shot from the edge of the box sent the ball wide.

Alexis MacAllister brushed off Kalvin Phillips to create a chance for himself at the other end, but his shot was straight at Meslier. Pascal Gross's angled shot was then saved after he got in behind the defence.

Leeds looked to have a great chance in the 21st minute, but Rodrigo took too long on the ball when he could have put the unmarked Jack Harrison away and Brighton then broke on the home side as Welbeck and Diego Llorente raced for a ball forward. The United defender was not strong enough and the former Manchester United forward then produced a clever chip finish to put his side ahead.

Leeds were still in the contest, however, as Harrison fired over from inside the box and Robin Koch got forward from his right-back position to get in a looping header that was easily saved.

MacAllister headed over for the visitors, but the Whites were doing more of the attacking now and could count themselves unlucky to be behind at the break with midfielder Phillips and

Mateusz Klich both getting forward to have shots, the latter's only kept out by a superb flying save by Sanchez.

United were still making the running early in the second half with Raphinha shooting over after being well set up by Gelhardt, Junior Firpo heading over from a corner and Harrison hammering a volley well over.

Klich's pass then sent Raphinha away down the right and his cross was flicked goalwards by Rodrigo only for defender Lewis Dunk to make an outstanding block.

In an open game it was the visitors' turn to have a good spell as Gross headed over at the back post from a corner and Leandro Trossard sent a shot over.

But only another superb save from Sanchez denied Raphinha after he sent in a curling shot from a 25-yard free-kick.

Rodrigo then looked to set up Raphinha, but the Brazilian could only divert the ball wide as he stretched to meet the low cross.

It was definitely not looking to be United's day when Klich was found in the box, but saw his shot well saved by Sanchez again and Gelhardt's strike soon after whistled inches wide.

With the mood starting to turn ugly with chants of "sack the board" Brighton should have put the game to bed, but despite being left completely free in the area Welbeck somehow sent his header wide.

It gave Leeds late hope and they built on it with their potentially crucial injury-time goal.

They still have four more minutes to find a winner, but could not get it with a hopeful handball penalty appeal falling on deaf ears.

(Struijk 90+2)

Brighton 1

(Welbeck 21)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Premier League

Attendance: 36,638

Leeds: Meslier; Koch (Shackleton 68), Llorente, Cooper, Firpo (Struijk 83); Phillips, Klich (Greenwood 83); Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; Gelhardt.

Brighton: Sanchez; March (Webster 63), Veltman, Dunk, Cucurella; Bissouma, Caicedo (Lallana 74); Gross, MacAllister, Trossard (Lamptey 86); Welbeck.

Referee: Mike Dean