Leeds United edge out Ipswich to hold onto top spot

Kalvin Phillips celebrates his goal for Leeds United against Ipswich. Picture: Simon Hulme

Leeds United held onto their top spot in the Sky Bet Championship when they came out on top in an entertaining five-goal thriller against Ipswich Town in front of another big crowd at Elland Road.

First half goals from Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Kalvin Phillips gave them a 2-1 half-time lead and an own goal when visiting goalkeeper Bartosz Biallowski dropped a Pablo Hernandez corner ultimately gave them the points.

Ipswich fought hard and scored twice through strikers David McGoldrick and Joe Garner, but fell just short as Leeds defended well enough despite being without Pontus Jansson, who head coach Thomas Christiansen said was fit but had not been selected.

United started brightly without creating a clear opportunity until the 13th minute when a great ball by defender Conor Shaughnessy sent Lasogga racing clear and the German striker produced a fine finish past the Ipswich keeper.

Dominic Iorfa had Ipswich’s first effort with a header from a corner that sailed over, but Leeds were soon back on attack with Luke Ayling screwing a shot wide after bursting onto the ball in the visitors’ half.

A scramble in the home box saw a couple of good blocks deny Ipswich opportunities, but the visitors equalised on the half-hour as McGoldrick was left free in the box to head home a free-kick.

The response from Leeds was immediate with Samuel Saiz coming up with a lovely cushioned header into space and Kalvin Phillips racing forward from midfield to take the ball in his stride, round the keeper and finish calmly to make it 2-1.

Ezgjan Alioski fired an angled free-kick wide as the Whites piled on more pressure and Saiz found himself in space in the box, but saw his goalbound shot well blocked by Jordan Spence.

But Ipswich finished the half strongly with Garner’s volley being well blocked by Shaughnessy and Luke Chambers’ header cleared off the line by Vurnon Anita.

The second half went through a little lull before exploding back into action as Iorfa dragged a shot wide from an angle and McGoldrick was only denied by a well timed Ayling challenge in the box.

Saiz had a chance for Leeds, but was muscled off the ball in the box then Alioski got round Jonas Knudsen in the area only to see his shot from a tight angle glance off the post.

Leeds made it 3-1 when gifted a goal as Biallowski misjudged Hernandez’s corner and dropped the ball over the line.

But Leeds keeper Felix Wiedwald almost immediately gave the visitors a goal back as he could only palm out a low cross straight to Garner, who made it 3-2.

In a thrilling finish Alioski could only send a weak shot straight to the Ipswich keeper after being set up by Saiz on the edge of the box and Knudsen headed over from one of Ipswich’s 11 corners.

Ipswich threw everything at the hosts, but United held out well and could have made their victory more emphatic in injury-time when Saiz went clear only to curl a shot just over.

Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen was delighted with the points and the way his side dug in when Ipswich threatened a late comeback.

He said: “They had a lot of possession at the end of the game and we didn’t have the ball to control our game, but we got the points.

“Ipswich were only two points behind us so we know we faced a six-point game and the response was good, the result was perfect.

“There was pressure, but if the pressure is because we are up there I like that rather than fighting for points at the bottom.”

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy felt his side were worth at least a point.

He said: “I thought we were terrific. I thought in the second half we had them by the throat, but we just couldn’t find a goal.

“It was bizarre goal to go 3-1 down, but I don’t blame Barts, he kept us in it last season.

“I’m pleased with the performance, but it makes me even more disappointed that we lost.

“Leeds haven’t battered us. They are a very good side and got some very good players.

“I’m a Yorkshireman and I’d like them to get back in the Premier League. People know my fondness for them, but you saw today that my team had no fondness with how hard we made it for them.”

Match facts

Leeds United 3

(Lasogga 13, Phillips 32, Biallowski og, 68)

Ipswich Town 2

(McGoldrick 30, Garner 71)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 34,002

Leeds: Wiedwald, Ayling, Shaughnessy, Cooper, Anita (Berardi 60), Alioski, O’Kane, Phillips, Saiz, Hernandez (Dallas 76), Lasogga (Grot 85).

Ipswich: Biallowski, Iorfa, Spence, Chambers, Knudsen, Ward (Celina 68), Adeyemi, Skuse, Nydam (Sears 68), McGoldrick (Waghorn 85), Garner.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham.

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