English Premier League

Newcastle 1 – 2 Leeds United

Newcastle 1 – 2 Leeds United. The Whites have struggled in recent games, failing to score in back-to-back losses against Tottenham and Brighton, either side of an FA Cup humbling at League Two Crawley. Raphinha scored one goal and assisted another as Leeds completed the double over Newcastle to put more pressure on Toon boss Steve Bruce.

But they came out on top in a game against a Newcastle side who looked bereft of confidence in the first half and battled hard in the second, but who have now taken just two points from the last available 27.

The visitors led through a cool side-foot finish from their Brazilian winger, who could have made it 2-0 before the break with a shot against the post from a tight angle.

Credit to the home side, who came out fighting and levelled when pressure in the away half allowed them to win the ball back, and then Miguel Almiron to collect a Callum Wilson touch before running through to finish.

But the lead lasted just four minutes, with Raphinha finding Jack Harrison is acres of space in the box to power a lovely finish past Karl Darlow.

Newcastle introduced Allan Saint-Maximin from the bench and came close to a second equaliser through two headers from corners, the first from Jamaal Lascelles that clipped the bar and the second from Jonjo Shelvey that Illan Meslier tipped over.

But the visitors held out to move to 26 points from 19 games, seven points better than Newcastle, who are seven points above the bottom three, having played two more games than 18th-placed Fulham.

Leeds’ victory came at a cost, though, with Spanish international centre-back Diego Llorente limping off less than 10 minutes into his full debut to continue the injury woes he has suffered since joining the club in September. Leeds edge it but there are positives for Newcastle
From the outside, Bruce’s position appears perilous and edging towards untenable.

The conservative football Newcastle have served up for much of the campaign is palatable only if it brings results with it, but those have long dried up for a side whose meagre return of points since a 5-2 loss at Elland Road in mid-December has seen them plummet into trouble.

They have lost the last five league games on the bounce; six in total if you add the FA Cup exit at Arsenal. A week ago, Bruce declared it was time Newcastle started playing “my way” – something he has subsequently clarified to mean defending 20-30 yards higher up the pitch.

There was little evidence of that in the first half as Leeds comfortably took control of possession and the contest through Raphinha’s well-taken goal.

Leeds are not in their best moment of the season, but their opponent’s stand-offish approach in the first 45 minutes acted as a leg-up, and as Marcelo Bielsa’s side have demonstrated already they need little invitation to ruthlessly pour forward.

Bruce and owner Mike Ashley are fortunate that St James’ Park is empty at the moment, sparing them both what would have been the ire of 50,000 frustrated home fans at the half-time whistle.

However, Bruce warrants a tip of the cap for his changes in the second half, which saw his side harry the visitors higher up the pitch and look more dangerous than they have at any stage this year. Saint-Maximin is a huge help in this regard as a skilful, direct focal point to their attack. Keep him fit and on the pitch and they are a different side.

Ultimately, though, Leeds had the edge. Their goals were a showcase for the incisive attacking play we have seen in spades this campaign, while their resilience in the second half is a rare but pleasing facet that will serve them well if they can maintain it.

Leeds beat Newcastle home and away for first time since 1975-76

  • Newcastle have lost six consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since a run of eight in May 2015.
  • Leeds have won home and away against Newcastle in single league campaign for the first time since the 1975-76 season, under Jimmy Armfield.
  • Newcastle are winless in nine Premier League games (D2 L7), their longest run without a win in the competition since October 2018 (10 games).
  • Leeds are the final Premier League side to score in 2021, ending a run of 304 minutes in all competitions without a goal.
  • Leeds United’s Raphinha has been directly involved in six goals (three goals, three assists) in his six Premier League away starts for the club – scoring and assisting in a single league game tonight for the first time since April 2019 (for Sporting Lisbon).
  • Miguel Almiron’s 57th-minute strike for Newcastle ended a run of 454 minutes of football without a goal in all competitions for the Magpies, since Andy Carroll’s goal v Leicester.
  • Raphinha became the first Leeds United player to score each of his first three Premier League goals for the club away from home, since Michael Bridges in August 1999.
  • Newcastle’s Fabian Schar made his 50th Premier League start tonight, becoming the ninth Swiss player to reach the milestone in the competition.

What next?

Newcastle are away at Everton, who have won four of their last five games, on Saturday for a 12:30 GMT kick-off. Leeds play a day later, away at high-flying Leicester in a game that gets under way at 14:00.