Leeds United 1 Wolves 1: Rodrigo saves Leeds as Gelhardt and Summerville take to the stage

IT is very rare that a draw is greeted so rapturously at Elland Road, but this was a unique occasion.

Rodrigo celebrates his dramatic leveller for Leeds United against Wolves. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Doing it tough without their two star turns in Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips for the majority of the second half - with the former having come off injured and the latter being an unused substitute - Leeds United had plenty to feel sorry about with their rough opening to 2021-22 looking like continuing.

Trailing 1-0 to an early goal from Hwang Hee-Chan and little threat aside from Raphinha, it looked nailed-on to be one of those days, more especially with their electric winger hobbled off in the 54th minute in worrying fashion.

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Leeds dug deep and young substitutes Joe Gelhardt and Crysencio Summerville came to the part gloriously.

Their enthusiasm and spirit - with no little quality - was infectious and the Elland Road home patrons bought into it on a hitherto forgettable and subdued afternoon. It ended in a standing ovation for the Leeds braves.

After seeing a shot tipped over, Gelhardt did not get down and came back for more and after Nelson Semedo bundled him over in the box in the fourth minute of stoppage time after his meandering run created mass panic, Leeds had the opportunity to level from the spot which was richly deserved.

It was duly dispatched by Rodrigo and Leeds - and particularly their young braves - went out to a standing ovation.

Ahead of the game, the name of Phillips on the substitutes bench was a surprise - but welcome - episode for Leeds followers ahead of the game, but the fact that the sight of him warming up deep in the first half was the main moment of cheer for home fans was telling.

Raphinha, the one change that the United line-up who produced such an anemic performance at south coast, provided the enlivenment on the pitch, but the supporting cast was again thoroughly unconvincing.

It made for a flat and half and atmosphere, aside from when the Brazilian international had the ball at his feet, although Wolves's early strike did not help.

Jack Harrison let Semedo get away from him down the right and the Portuguese midfield got close to the byline before finding Raul Jimenez.

The Mexican's attempt on goal was deflected by Jamie Shackleton and Hwang seized in the loose ball to net a scruffy opener, which was needlessly conceded by Leeds.

Wolves threatened on the counter, with the pace of Adama Traore being an obvious outlet. Going the other way, aside from Raphinha, Leeds had blunt weapons.

Dan James, playing in a central role, struggled to get into the game, while Harrison picked the wrong options on occasions, most notably in blasting off target from a tight angle with players in the box.

Rodrigo did have a half-chance, heading wide from Raphinha's excellent corner, while United's classy Samba star struck a low shot straight at Jose Sa and curled an effort wide after going solo, but there was little else.

Perhaps the only other animation among United supporters revolved around Jimenez, a talented player, but one prone to histrionics. Not least when he feigned a facial injury after being barely touched by Liam Cooper and when he tumbled theatrically and banged his hand on the ground for added effect when he was caught by a challenge from James, which was hardly bordering on the malicious.

James was switched to the left in the second half, with Tyler Roberts thrown on in place of Harrison.

The first chance of the resumption went to Wolves, with a rare indiscretion from Raphinha seeing him dispossessed by Rayan Ait-Nouri, who weaved his way inside on the left and saw his effort blocked at the near post.

On a difficult enough afternoon, the departure of Raphinha significantly compounded matters and Leeds toiled from rhythm in his absence.

The one thing in their favour was Wolves, despite looking the more likely, lacked a ruthless edge.

That was reinforced when Wanderers spurned a glorious free-kick opportunity following Gelhardt’s challenge on Jimenez, with Joao Moutinho’s effort flying tamely into the Kop.

It enthused the Leeds faithful as did a moment which almost conjured a leveller when a flicked header from Roberts drifted just wide from Rodrigo’s inswinging dangerous delivery on the right.

Earlier, Saiss did well to get a timely touch clear after James’s cross almost found the lurking Summerville at the back stick.

Wolves predilection to sit on their lead continued to give Leeds encouragement and it would have paid a price, but for Sa’s excellent reflexes to tip over Gelhardt’s fierce rising effort.

The sub fired off target soon after, while the under-worked Illan Meslier held a routine drive at the other end from substitute Daniel Podence.

The drama was reserved for the other end after Gelhardt-inspired punished complacency from Wolves to claim a big point.

Leeds United: Meslier; Shackleton, Llorente, Cooper, Dallas; Struijk; Raphinha (Summerville 54) , Klich (Gelhardt 64), Harrison (Roberts 45); James; Rodrigo. Substitutes unused: Klaesson, Forshaw, Phillips, Hjelde, Cresswell, Drameh.

Wolves: Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Neves 90), Ait-Nouri (Hoever 83); Hwang, Traore (Podence 75); Jimenez. Substitutes unused: Moulden, Ruddy, Trincao, Silva, Cundle, Campbell.

Referee: R Jones (Merseyside).

Attendance: 36,475