Leeds Utd 1 (Struijk 73)
Man City 3 (Rodri 45+1, Haaland 51,64)
28th December 2022, Premier League.
Oh Leeds! You have teased us again! For 45 minutes we remained resolute in the face of Manchester City dominance and then, in a flash, we were behind. Two more self-inflicted wounds early in the second half then destroyed us. OK, it was Manchester City and they are very good, but, the manner of the goals we gave away was just so familiar.
Manchester City might, on another day, perhaps one when Jack Grealish remembered to bring his shooting boots, have been four or five to the good by halftime. But they weren’t; they were profligate in front of goal and Illan Meslier was usually there to stop the few shots that did find the target. But then, with seconds of the half remaining, you’d have thought we could go into game management mode…
We didn’t of course and instead we witnessed yet another example of the classic 2022 Leeds United goals conceded. De Bruyne sprints down the City left, hits a low ball across, and eventually, the ball arrives at the City spare man, alone in space on the City right with Gnonto trailing too far behind him as he made his run. His shot was well saved but once again it was an opposition player who was quickest to react and Rodri it was who prodded home to deflate the Leeds United balloon.
One nil down at the break was no disaster, although the dominance City had shown did always suggest that the tsunami might still be just around the corner. It wasn’t a tsunami, but City raced into a three-goal lead just twenty minutes into the second half and the game was as good as over. Once again the nature of the goals will be the most worrying aspect for the Leeds coaches, not the quantity of them.
The second was a silly, sloppy pass by Liam Cooper to Robin Koch who was clearly not expecting it. That was intercepted just inside our own half and there was only ever going to be one conclusion to that. Jack Grealish nipped in to steal it and he put it on a plate for Haaland to slam home.
The third was no better really albeit was a showcase of the crisp one-touch passing City are capable of. De Bruyne to Haaland, Haaland to Grealish, Grealish back to Haaland; nil – three! Simple as that. My gripe was the way Grealish was the spare man again on that left-hand side this time.
Leeds didn’t give up, we never do, and Pascal Struijk headed a fine consolation in the 73rd minute. After seeing Robin Koch glance home from a corner the other day against Monaco there is a hint that maybe we’ve been working on our corner routines. We have not been very proficient in that art for many years.
Had Joffy been a foot taller he might have given us a grandstand finish as he once again, as he also did in that Monaco game, slid in towards a Sam Greenwood low cross but couldn’t get enough on it. Longer studs for Joffy me thinks!
So, we all expected a defeat and that’s what we got, but it was nowhere near as bad as many were predicting – I heard 6 – 0 mentioned many times in the pub ahead of the game. For most of those first 45 minutes, we had a right good go against City and, although they wasted some chances, we didn’t look too bad. That early mistake in the second half took the shine off a little. We can’t dwell on it though, it’s off to Newcastle we go, and, good as they were the other day at Leicester, I think we can give them a game too. We must be error-free for once though.
Leeds Man City
Possession 31% 69%
Shots 9 26
On Target 1 9
Corners 3 5
Fouls 11 14