A BIZARRE own goal from Ipswich Town keeper Bartosz Bialkowski provided the major talking point as Leeds United remained at the head of the Championship pack after a hard-fought victory over Ipswich Town in a see-saw encounter.
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The Town custodian inexplicably parried Pablo Hernandez’s curling corner into his own net midway through the second-half, with goalline technology indicating that the ball had crossed the line.
A second equaliser from Ipswich, courtesy of Joe Garner, set up an anxious finale but Leeds held out to maintain their unbeaten run at Elland Road so far this season and get back in the winning vein after last weekend’s loss at Millwall.
It was a first-half jam-packed with entertainment in front of a 34,000-plus crowd, who had plenty to enthuse about at the interval following an exciting attacking performance from the hosts, who showcased evidence of just why they have enjoyed such a vibrant start to the Thomas Christiansen reign.
It yielded two goals, although on the debit side, United’s defence - which had looked so imposing in not conceding a Championship goal on home soil so far this term - were not entirely convincing.
Guilty of overplaying at the back at times, Leeds invited trouble on occasions and also looked a touch susceptible at set-pieces.
At the other end, there was plenty to admirable with Leeds making the breakthrough on 13 minutes with an exquisite moment when Conor Shuaghnessey’s lovely defence-splitting pass picked out Pierre-Michel Lasogga, who drew keeper Bialkowski before cliincally firing the ball low into the far corner.
After gasping for air early on, Town rallied and levelled on the half-hour through David McGoldrick’s thumping header following Grant Ward’s corner.
But Leeds’ response was stirring with the alert Kalvin Phillips soon latching onto Town captain Luke Chambers weak header to round Bialkowski and instantly restore United’s lead with his fourth of the season.
Chambers almost atoned for that faux pas by levelling just before the break with the well-stationed Vurnon Anita clearing his header off the line.
After plenty of attacking verve in the first half, Leeds were forced to dig in for spells on the restart, with Ipswich going desperately close to levelling on the hour when Felix Wiedwald got a vital touch to divert a point-blank effort from dangerman McGoldrick after fine play by Garner and Ward.
Respite was then provided by Bialkowski’s comedy blooper, but the mirth did not last long with Town reducing the arrears after Wiedwald’s unconvincing parry from Dominic Iorfa’s cross-shot, with Garner on hand to fire in the rebound.
It set up a nervy final quarter, but Leeds held out.
Much of the talk ahead of the game revolved around Leeds’ impregnable defensive statistics at Elland Road, which had seen them keep league clean sheets in 14 of their previous 18 matches - with the Whites also seeking a fifth successive shut-out at the start of the season for the first time ever.
But on the day, the case for the defence was not wholly convincing, with Leeds creating problems for themselves at times and forced to dig in for much of the second half, when Ipswich were the better side.
It made for a difficult second half, but Leeds - without the presence of Pontus Jansson - got over the line just, despite looking shaky at times, with the relief from home fans at the final whistle being pronounced.
Leeds United: Wiedwald; Ayling, Shaughnessy, Cooper, Anita (Berardi 60); O’Kane, Phillips; Alioski, Saiz; Hernandez (Dallas 68); Lasogga (Grot 85). Substitutes unused: Lonergan, Pennington, Klich, Roofe.
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Iorfa, Spence, Chambers, Knudsen; Ward (Sears 68), Skuse, Adeyemi, Nydam (Celina 68); McGoldrick (Waghorn 85), Garner. Substitutes unused: Gerken, Connolly, Kenlock, Woolfenden.
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).
Attendance: 34,002 (693 Ipswich supporters).