LEEDS UNITED approached the Easter weekend with mathematical prospects of sealing automatic promotion in Bank Holiday Monday’s game at Brentford.
Instead defeat at Griffin Park has head coach Marcelo Bielsa’s side facing the prospect of their top-two hopes being over even before their penultimate game on Sunday at home to Aston Villa.
Three days after Good Friday’s crushing 2-1 loss at home to Wigan Athletic that left United’s automatic promotion destiny out of their own hands, goals from Neal Maupay and Sergi Canos dealt a hammer and probably fatal blow to hopes of finishing second.
After obliging 3-0 at Hull City on Monday afternoon as part of a perfect Easter, Sheffield United would move six points clear of Leeds and with a far superior goal difference by winning Saturday’s clash at home to already-relegated Ipswich Town.
The Blades’ goal difference is 11 better than Leeds’s and the Whites are also six points behind leaders Norwich, whose goal difference is also ten goals better.
Leeds had plenty of chances with Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts squandering two of them in the first five minutes as Bamford fired wide before a heavy touch from Roberts allowed goalkeeper Daniel Bentley the chance to smother his one-on-one.
Brentford then looked lucky when referee Keith Stroud waved away United’s claims for a penalty when Bamford was sent tumbling by Julian Jeanvier. But the Bees also had their chances with Kiko Casilla producing a brilliant one-handed save to keep out Sergi Canos’s rocket that looked destined for the top left corner.
Canos was proving a menace and it was his through ball on the stroke of half-time that provided Maupay with a one-on-one that he finished clinically past Casilla.
Leeds began the second half brightly with the recalled Adam Forshaw, Pablo Hernandez and Bamford all firing over.
But Brentford doubled their lead on 62 minutes when a lovely move involving Ollie Watkins and Maupay ended with Canos producing a chipped finish over Casilla.
Leeds were then inches away from conceding a third when Maupay’s overhead kick flied narrowly over. United huffed and puffed, but were left staring at the prospect of the play-offs bar some very unlikely results over the last two weekends.
Brentford: Daniels, Konsa, Jeanvier, Sorensen, Odubajo, Mokotjo, Sawyers, Henry, Watkins (Da Silva 87), Maupay, Canos (Marcondes 81). Unused substitutes: Gunnarsson, Ogbene, Racic, Forss, Oksanen.
Leeds United: Casilla, Alioski (Dallas 12), Cooper, Jansson (Clarke 64), Ayling, Forshaw, Klich, Roberts, Harrison, Hernandez, Bamford (Roofe 58). Unused substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Phillips, Berardi, Shackleton.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).