Leeds United 3 Leicester City 1: One for the ages as Leeds United conjure a huge victory following an incredible late comeback

MENTION Leicester City to any self-respecting Leeds United supporter and the following line is never far away.

‘Have you ever seen a better goal?’

To the uninitiated, commentator John Helm uttered those immortal seven words to hail a glorious late winner from captain Gordon Strachan in front of a packed South Stand at Elland Road on an occasion of immense importance against the Foxes towards the end of their Division Two title-winning campaign in April 1990.

It went down in United folklore.

Leeds United's Archie Gray celebrates making it 2-1 versus Leicester. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeLeeds United's Archie Gray celebrates making it 2-1 versus Leicester. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United's Archie Gray celebrates making it 2-1 versus Leicester. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

In this latest game of major significance for Leeds versus the East Midlanders, any sort of goal, as long as it was a winning one or part of a three-point haul, was hankered for in the here and now.

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It looked like Leeds would not get any before an incredible late passage of action turned the game completely on its head as the hosts, unfathomably, grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.

As with the ‘90 game, it won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Have you even seen a madder finish?

Trailing to a 15th-minute header from Wout Faes, Leeds were on the ropes in the second half, but showed the strongest of jaws.

Leicester didn’t finish them off and paid a huge price, even if they had a goal ruled out from Patson Daka which should have stood with the score at 1-0.

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A first goal for the club from substitute Connor Roberts looked like rescuing a point, thankfully, 10 minutes from the end of normal time.

Archie Gray, from vintage Leeds stock, had other ideas.

His performance summed up Leeds on the night. He had considerable trouble defensively, but didn’t go away.

His moment came when his shot took two deflections before flying into the net. An oh-so-memorable first goal for his family’s club.

Crazily, there was more, from another replacement in Dan James - although the final touch came from fellow sub Patrick Bamford - as Leeds won for an ninth league game in a row for the first time since 1931 on a famous, unforgettable night as they moved within six points of Leicester.

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Leeds punters know the score, respect a sense of occasion and have an instinctive appreciation of when to raise their own game by way of decibels.

Friday was one of those occasions and the volume was cranked up impressively ahead of kick-off. And certainly by the end.

Leicester weren’t cowed, in truth. A huge, huge game for Leeds, but not necessarily for Leicester, Enzo Maresca opined beforehand and his side blocked out the noise and showed evidence as to why they are where they are at the summit in the opening half.

Leeds had their chances for sure - and possessed a potent weapon on the right in Willy Gnonto, but the intelligence and cuteness going forward largely came from the Foxes.

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Their movement was smart and there was plenty of pace and they had quality operators in Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Stephy Mavididi in particular.

They outshone Leeds’ game-breakers in Crysencio Summerville and Georginio Rutter as Leeds trailed at home in the league at half-time for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.

Dewsbury-Hall, who Leeds struggled to take care of, slotted in Mavididi on 14 minutes after the Foxes winger give Gray the slip. He found Daka, whose rising shot was tipped over by Illan Meslier. It was a warning.

From the resulting corner, the United keeper was picking the ball out of the net after being left exposed.

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It was a soft concession with Dewsbury-Hall’s corner on the left flicked on by Daka. Gray, who had a tough first half defensively, was guilty of ball-watching and Faes was on hand to head in at the far post.

Going forward, Leeds knocked on the door, for sure. Gnonto troubled Leicester and created two chances, either side of the opener, for Joel Piroe.

Gnonto and Gray worked it superbly on the right before the ball found Piroe, who ballooned his shot over. The Dutchman then spurned a decent headed opportunity from distance after more enterprise from Gnonto. In big games, you need to be clinical.

Top-of-the-table affairs can sometimes be stodgy, with plenty at stakes. This was exceedingly open by contrast, but Leicester looked the more convincing.

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They did have a scare when Rutter sent Gnonto clear. Instead of getting his shot off early, the Italian international elected to come inside and the shot was blocked. In such a big game, it represented another waste.

Summerville then threatened to announce himself, but Jannik Vestergaard spotted the danger and made an excellent covering challenge.

Leicester had the game where they wanted it at the interval and the onus was on Leeds on the resumption.

It could and should have got worse in the second half. Leicester had the chances to take the game out of sight, but fluffed them.

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Teams far from at their best must show character in times of strife. Leeds got themselves off the floor and did just that.

An early chance saw Summerville and Rutter combine with the latter firing over. Leicester were patient and had a chance to kill Leeds on 56 minutes.

They broke and the ball found Mavididi in space on the left. He cut inside and unleashed a venomous low shot which was parried superbly by Meslier.

An offside flag then saved Leeds with Daka’s rebound ruled out after Vestergaard’s thumping header hit the bar following Dewsbury-Hall’s outswinging corner.

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Replays showed the goal should have stood with the Foxes forward onside following the initial header, with the rebound coming to him off Rutter. It was a key moment.

Having seen enough, Farke called for Bamford, a welcome returnee to the bench and James, but not before Leicester passed up another glorious pass.

Dewsbury-Hall played in Mavididi, who hared past Gray towards goal, only to fire wide. His angst was there to see as was that of Maresca.

Leeds were looking increasingly ragged without the ball, a un-Farke like trait. Yet Leicester’s inability to finish the game gave the hosts hope.

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Summerville had an opportunity, only for Choudhury to block. Moments after, he had another sight of goal, with Faes showing alertness this time. Bamford soon stung the palms of the under-worked Mads Hermansen and the Kop had something to buy into again.

Soon after, Leeds had another huge reprieve when Leicester seized on looseness from Greuv and then Rodon. Pereira sent Daka clear, but his finish was wayward and horrible, fortunately.

The true aim came from Roberts at the other end. Kamara found Rutter, who wriggled clear before cutting the ball back. For the first time on the night, Vestergaard erred and Roberts finished like a veteran.

There was better to come, much better.

Rutter, who had come to life, did excellently to find Gray. Switched to left-back after Firpo’s exit, he saw his shot take a double deflection off Choudhury and then Faes before it nestled beautifully in the back of the net.

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Football, bloody hell. Incredibly, there was an encore when James’s free-kick deflected off Bamford and nestled gloriously in the net.

Leeds United: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo (Roberts 73); Greuv, Kamara; Gnonto (James 64), Rutter, Summerville (Anthony 90); Piroe (Bamford 65). Unused substitutes: Klaesson, Cresswell, Cooper, Shackleton, Joseph.

Leicester City: Hermansen; Choudhury, Faes, Vestergaard, Justin; Winks, Pereira; Fatawa, Dewsbury-Hall, Mavididi (McAteer 78); Daka (Cannon 78). Unused substitutes: Stolarczyk, Coady, Doyle, Albrighton, Praet, Akgun, Nelson.

Referee: C Pawson (South Yorkshire).