Leeds frustrated by Sunderland in goalless draw


Leeds missed the chance to go top of the Sky Bet Championship after being held to a disappointing goalless draw by Sunderland at Elland Road.

Daniel Farke’s promotion-chasers climbed back into the top two but another below-par display saw them fall short of usurping leaders Leicester, who slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Millwall.

Leeds, who were beaten in the league for the first time this year at Coventry on Saturday, extended their unbeaten home Championship record this season to 21 matches.

But, after misfiring against resolute opponents, the stalemate left them one point behind Leicester and level with third-placed Ipswich, with both promotion rivals having a game in hand.

Sunderland made clear their intentions from kick off as they sat deep and invited Leeds on and, with space hard to come by, the home side found it difficult to fashion early chances.

Former Leeds forward Jack Clarke just failed to get his head on to a fizzing cross from Timothee Pembele for the visitors before Georginio Rutter fired the hosts’ first chance over the crossbar in the 18th minute.

Leeds had a whopping 80 per cent possession through the first half an hour and had nothing to show for it, while it was their goalkeeper Illan Meslier who was forced into the game’s first two saves.

Both of those were from Clarke, who was keen to impress on his first appearance back at Elland Road since departing for Tottenham in 2019.

At the start of the second half, Leeds fans did their best to lift their team, who appeared weighed down with the expectation, and the response was immediate as Rutter and Dan James both flashed shots wide.

But it required a crucial intervention from skipper Ethan Ampadu to cut out Clarke’s dangerous low cross as Sunderland threatened again.

Crysencio Summerville’s free-kick curled the wrong side of a post and Rutter hooked a tame effort wide as Leeds toiled without inspiration.

With tension mounting on the terraces, Meslier saved Sunderland substitute Patrick Roberts’ free-kick before Leeds’ appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears when a corner struck visiting skipper Luke O’Nien on the hand.

Leeds boss Daniel Farke sent on Joel Piroe, Connor Roberts and Mateo Joseph in the 83rd minute – Willy Gnonto had already replaced Glen Kamara – in a final bid to wrestle victory from a disjointed performance.

Gnonto’s 20-yard shot was deflected over the crossbar in the closing stages and, despite forcing late pressure, below-par Leeds failed to create any clear-cut chances and missed a key opportunity in the promotion race.

The managers

Leeds’ Daniel Farke:

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Leeds boss Daniel Farke felt that a number of decisions went against his side in their goalless draw with Sunderland.

“We didn’t create enough clear-cut chances. That’s why we didn’t win this game.

“I also have to say, we were pretty unfortunate with several decisions today. It was a clear handball in the first half, should have been a penalty, and a clear handball in the second half, should have been a penalty.

“If there is a rule how there should be a handball, I ask just for the rule.

“I think we’ve had six letters during the season so far apologising for (not being given) a penalty or for red cards – we’ll probably get two more letters now, but it won’t help us.

“They were decisive moments, but credit to Sunderland I think. In the last five games they’ve had four clean sheets.

“I’m annoyed with the (penalty) decisions because they were decisive, but I also like to be self-critical and today we didn’t create enough clear-cut chances.”

Sunderland’s Mike Dodds:

“I’m happy for them, but I don’t want to go over the top. I’ve just said to them that we have drawn the game, we haven’t won it.

“There were a lot of positives, but we have drawn the game and I don’t want to be sat here celebrating draws.

“Our out-of-possession stuff was excellent. I didn’t feel at any point that Leeds were going to score or break us down or carve us open.

“The reality is that these decisions are swings and roundabouts. It would have been unbelievably cruel on us.

“I felt all their chances came from our sloppy play and I just said to the group my biggest disappointment was our quality with the ball.

“Our evening would have been a lot more comfortable had we not turned it over far too much.”



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