Crystal Palace 2 Leeds United 1: Game turns on Patrick Bamford miss and Eagles equaliser

Even with Patrick Bamford fit to start for the first time since weekend two of the season, Leeds United still had a Patrick Bamford problem at Crystal Palace.

Talk of the centre-forward's fitness is rarely far from Jesse Marsch's pre-match press conferences, and with good reason. Bamford only started seven Premier League matches last season, and his team came perilously close to relegation.

The Whites are simply a better team when he is fit because they have been unwilling or unable to find or develop anyone else who plays as he does, making those around him better with his all-round game.

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He is not, though, the kind of put-your-mortgage-on-me finisher only a handful of elite clubs are blessed with and back at Selhurst Park on Sunday his miss was pivotal to a game Leeds were very good in for more than 20 minutes, and disappointingly timid in for more than 70.

CRUCIAL MOMENT: Crystal Palace's Odsonne Edouard scores their equaliser against Leeds UnitedCRUCIAL MOMENT: Crystal Palace's Odsonne Edouard scores their equaliser against Leeds United
CRUCIAL MOMENT: Crystal Palace's Odsonne Edouard scores their equaliser against Leeds United

Hand on heart, no lover of Leeds could complain about the 2-1 defeat, extending their winless away form this season, but in the first quarter of the game it was very hard to predict.

With Bamford back leading the line against one of his old loan clubs, Leeds were very good.

They looked sharp whilst Palace seemed to be in a fug. Leeds led, deservedly, when Pascal Struijk refused to accept Brenden Aaronson's dribble and shot against the post go unrewarded, slotting the rebound.

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It is a good job Struijk has started the season so well because if centre-forward has been a blindspot for Leeds' recruitment, so has left-back. Again their only specialist, Junior Firpo, was missing through injury.

WINNER: Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates scoring with Joel WardWINNER: Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates scoring with Joel Ward
WINNER: Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates scoring with Joel Ward

An attacking Palace midfield was having to do a lot of defending, their best hope of causing problems looking like long balls into the corners. It was something manager Patrick Vieira picked up on at half-time, telling his team to be more direct to beat the Leeds press.

His only ball-winning midfielder, Cheick Doucoure, was fortunate not to add to his 14th-minute booking for a tackle on Tyler Adams.

The mood and the game turned between the 22nd and 24th minutes.

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Aaronson threaded a beautiful pass to Bamford, who missed one-on-one with VIcente Guaita. At the other end, Liam Cooper gave away a free-kick and Odsonne Edouard headed in Palace's first chance.

The setback turned into a footballing disaster.

Leeds never looked the same team again, a pity because the side that kicked the game off had been very good to watch.

As the hour approached, Rasmus Kristensen produced a moment which might have turned momentum back the other way, but only delayed Palace's progress.

In their different ways, Jack Harrison and Aaronson performed really well with someone to aim for and play off, even if Bamford looked rusty and was substituted soon after the hour. Winger Harrison was back on his natural side having been shunted right to accommodate the now-suspended Luis Sinisterra.

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Aaronson was the square peg there this time, a No 10 but one comfortable there when not needed to hug the touchline like a long-lost relative because the forward-thinking Kristensen is at right-back.

Aaronson shot wide at 0-0 and Harrison showed the brightness of his mind – and dullness of the hosts’ – to rob Guaita as he dawdled wide of his goal. Jeffrey Schlupp's pass inside five minutes had already given the goalkeeper palpitations.

Whilst Leeds seemed to shrink after the equaliser Palace took confidence from it after the interval.

Wilfried Zaha's right-footed shot at Ilan Meslier after 49 minutes was weak, but a reminder the hosts' deadliest threat was playing.

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Kistensen, who shackled Zaha well in what Marsch called "easily his best performance in a Leeds shirt", made an outstanding block to stop Jordan Ayew – his head bearing five stitches after a first-half clash with Robin Koch’s.

Zaha and Michael Olise shot wide before Eberechi Eze dribbled across the Leeds area, too easily past Cooper, and found the net.

Even in the desperation minutes, Palace looked more likely scorers, Patrick Anderson heading wide a free-kick substitute Joe Gelhardt conceded, and Olise making an audacious attempt from near the halfway line and very near the touchline with virtually the last touch.

Leeds' only on-target second-half effort was in stoppage time, and far too weak to trouble Guaita.

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The game had been there for Leeds, but they lacked the ruthlessness to take it.

Crystal Palace: Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Schlupp; Olise (Hughes 85), Doucoure (Milivojevic 66), Eze; Ayew (Mitchell 66), Edouard (Mateta 85), Zaha. Unused substitutes: Tomkins, Johnstone, Ebiowei, Riedewald, Gordon.

Leeds United: Meslier; Kristensen (Ayling 84), Koch, Cooper, Struijk; Adams, Roca (Gelhardt 84); Aaronson (Klich 76), Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford (Summerville 62). Unused substitutes: Klaesson, Llorente, Gyabi, Gnonto, Greenwood.

Referee: P Tierney (Wigan).