FT: Leeds United 1-2 Brighton & HA

Leeds's Paul Green gets to grips with Brighton's Andrea Orlandi.Leeds's Paul Green gets to grips with Brighton's Andrea Orlandi.
Leeds's Paul Green gets to grips with Brighton's Andrea Orlandi.
Brighton’s place in the npower Championship play-offs was confirmed as Gus Poyet’s men emerged from a bad-tempered meeting with Leeds with the victory they wanted.

Leonardo Ulloa’s 87th-minute header won the day for Albion after El-Hadji Diouf’s penalty had cancelled out Will Buckley’s opener.

That was only half of the story, though, as Leeds ended with nine men and Brighton 10 after a series of nasty incidents.

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Leeds’ Rodolph Austin left the action 13 minutes in following an off-the-ball collision with Ashley Barnes, while Inigo Calderon joined him for his last-man foul on Diouf in the build-up to the penalty.

The Spaniard had a head-to-head with the fourth official as he left the field, but he had barely reached the dressing rooms before Diouf was following him down the tunnel - the Senegalese dismissed by Graham Scott for allegedly abusing the Brighton fans in the wake of his goal.

Brian McDermott plans to appeal against Austin’s red card but he refused to excuse Diouf and said: “I can’t understand him and maybe he can’t understand himself.

“What he did is not clever. He has got to learn because he is going to miss three games now. He is really upset but he has to be accountable for his actions. These things are dotted around his career. He can be a match-winner and I’ve told him he has to let his football do the talking.

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“If you run 50 yards and make a gesture, that is not a heat of the moment thing. I believe 100 per cent he can learn from this - he has to.

“Austin just bumped into their player so no way was it a sending-off offence and we will appeal against it.”

But once the debris has been cleared the league table will show that Brighton are headed for at least three more games this season after reaching an insurmountable 72 points. A draw would have been all-but enough, but Ulloa’s header made sure.

With what was at stake it was of little surprise that Brighton set off quickly. Just 29 seconds had gone when they mounted their first attack with Ulloa getting free on the right and crossing for Andrea Orlandi who, after slipping in unnoticed, bundled a close-range effort onto Paddy Kenny’s post.

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Austin responded with a wayward free-kick and that kicked off a horror five minutes for the home side, starting with the 10th-minute opener.

Tom Lees failed to notice Buckley’s looming presence as he sized up a backpass to Kenny and, in failing to do so, feathered the ball back allowing the former Rochdale man to nip in, set himself and score across the keeper’s body.

If Lees was careless then Austin was reckless three minutes later, appearing to aggressively cut across the front of Barnes as the pair chased a ball. The striker collapsed to the floor and Austin headed for the changing rooms.

Leeds had to reshuffle and actually looked the better side up until the interval, claiming three penalties in a minute as the half-hour approached.

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Two of them were tenuous handballs but when Luke Varney fell under David Lopez’s jump, they had a reasonable shout, just as they did when Diouf was felled by Marcos Painter.

Neither were awarded, though, and Ross McCormack had their best chances with a back-to-goal half-volley which skipped just wide and a rising shot over the top.

By not scoring before the interval, Leeds passed 1000 minutes without a first-half goal and would have been two down at the other end had Ulloa found his range just inside the box after the restart.

Buckley then dragged wide and Kenny saved well from Lopez as the game became stretched, but it took until the 73rd minute for Leeds to get the equaliser they had threatened, although it brought another dose of controversy with it.

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Diouf was about to hook a volley goalwards when he was dragged down by Calderon, with referee Scott responding by pointing to the spot and sending off the last-man. He had a head-to-head with the fourth official as he left the field before looking back to see Diouf convert the penalty he had won.

The drama was only just starting, though, as Diouf ignored his team-mate’s congratulations to jog to the Brighton fans. An alleged hand gesture later and he was sent off on the advice of the linesman.

Brighton now had as much space as they needed and, with three minutes of regular time left, Ulloa headed in Orlandi’s cross to put the lid on the afternoon.