Summer recruit shines as Leeds top Newcastle in pulsating affair


Raphinha enjoyed his best day in a Leeds shirt after putting in an all-action performance to heap more pressure on Steve Bruce’s ailing Newcastle United.

The early going saw more injuries than action, with Isaac Hayden, Fabian Schar and the returning Diego Llorente all receiving treatment.

Llorente’s issue proved the most serious – a hamstring problem that ended the Spaniard’s evening after just nine minutes.

When the game found its rhythm, Leeds took a firm grasp on possession and looked lively down the left through Jack Harrison.

The game’s first real opportunity produced the opener when two summer recruits combined to carve open Newcastle’s defence.

Rodrigo picked out Raphinha on the edge of the box after tireless work had dispossessed Newcastle on the half-way line.

With little room for manoeuvre, Raphinha buried a low finish into the bottom corner to put the visitors in front.

The Magpies sought an immediate response, and almost found it when Jamaal Lascelles’ header drifted narrowly wide of the post following a corner.

Stuart Dallas and Illan Meslier both picked up knocks from collisions, but the Leeds pair were able to continue as half-time approached.

Just prior to the break, hearts were in mouths as Meslier spilled a a cross before regathering on the second attempt.

A fast break was launched, but Rodrigo’s ensuing effort from a tight angle struck the post, much to the relief of the increasingly beleaguered Steve Bruce.

Leeds appeared to have doubled their advantage moments after the break after a late run into the box found Dallas.

The Northern Irishman’s initial shot deflected back into his path, but his resulting effort that flew in off the underside of the crossbar had come off his arm.

Newcastle stepped up their game, and as the hour mark approached, grabbed a crucial equaliser.

Catching Leeds attempting to play out from the back, neat interplay fed Miguel Almiron as the Paraguayan hared into the box.

Meslier got a hand to the forward’s shot, but couldn’t keep the effort at bay as parity was restored to the scores.

Leeds’ response was immediate, and within three minutes Marcelo Bielsa’s men had restored their lead.

Raphinha lofted a lovely ball through to Harrison who drove a sublime finish into the far corner with the outside of his boot.

Both sides were creating chances at will, with Jamal Lewis grazing the crossbar after dazzling work from substitute Allan Saint-Maximin.

Meslier was called into action on several occasions as Newcastle went in search of an equaliser, but the young Frenchman was equal to the task on every occasion.

Saint-Maximin appeared Newcastle’s greatest hope, with multiple mazy runs causing havoc in and around the Leeds area.

Try as they might, Newcastle could not find the cutting edge required as time ran out on their 2-1 defeat to Leeds.