Embarrassing defeat for Newcastle United at Elland Road halts improvement

This fixture has thrown up some Premier League classics over the years.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 8:12 pm
Jeff Hendrick.

Tonight's game had seven goals, but it’ll not be remembered fondly on Tyneside.

Newcastle United were convincingly beaten 5-2 by Leeds United at Elland Road tonight – and fans will have been wincing back home at what they saw after the break.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side fought back after going a goal down and took control during a forgettable second half for the visitors.

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Newcastle, again looking to play on the counter-attack, were ragged at times as Leeds pulled away from them. They were far too open, and didn't match up to their hosts in key areas.

Leeds’ performance would have lifted the roof at Elland Road in more normal times. Newcastle’s capitulation, however, would not have gone down well with the away end.

Fortunately for Steve Bruce's side, they have a chance to put it right on Saturday night when Fulham visit St James’s Park for what is expected to be a behind-closed-doors game.

Bruce – who had been looking for a third successive Premier League win as manager for the first time since 2009 – made four changes, but the system – 4-4-1-1 – stayed the same.

Ryan Fraser, Jacob Murphy, Federico Fernandez and Jeff Hendrick returned to the starting XI for the game, which followed the weekend’s 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Dwight Gayle – who had claimed all three points with a late winner – had to be content with a place on the bench.

Fraser, making his first start since late October, threatened down the left early in the game, but Newcastle were sloppy with the ball, and Leeds started to see more and more possession.

The visitors had Karl Darlow to thank for a superb save which kept out a Liam Cooper header from a corner.

Fortunately for Newcastle, that was the only shot on target inside the first 25 minutes. Leeds would rue those early opportunities in the 26th minute when a Ryan Fraser cross was flicked on by Callum Wilson to Jeff Hendrick at the far post.

The midfielder, signed in the summer, tapped the ball home with his right foot.

Newcastle’s lead lasted just nine minutes. Leeds were soon on the attack again, and Darlow couldn’t keep out a close-range header from Patrick Bamford after being beaten by a Rodrigo effort which struck the crossbar.

It was nothing less than Bielsa’s side deserved, though Newcastle felt that they deserved a penalty after the break when Wilson was brought down by Cooper. Nothing was given.

Newcastle were soon behind. Jack Harrison brilliantly took down a pass before driving a cross into the box which was headed home by a stooping Rodrigo.

Emil Krafth replaced Hendrick – Murphy was pushed up into midfield – and the visitors were soon level. A deflected Clark header from a Fraser corner beat Illan Meslier to make it 2-2.

But a devastating 11-minute spell, which saw Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison score, would see off Newcastle, .

Bruce will now demand a response from a team which had looked to be improving.

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