Patrick Bamford and Raphinha inflict damaging defeat on Fulham as Premier League relegation looms
Premier League, Craven Cottage: Fulham 1 (Andersen 38') Leeds United 2 (Bamford 29', Raphinha 58')
Leeds United's Brazilian midfielder Raphinha Dias Belloli (R) celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Leeds United's English striker Patrick Bamford during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Leeds United at Craven Cottage
Leeds United handed a huge blow to Fulham’s hopes of Premier League survival as Patrick Bamford responded to his England snub with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage.
The defeat means that Scott Parker’s Fulham remain in the relegation zone, two points from safety and having played two games more than both Newcastle United and Brighton directly above them.
Leeds started the game well and thought they’d taken an early lead thanks to a brilliant header from Luke Ayling, only for VAR to pick out an offside in the build-up and chalk it off. And the visitors had the ball in the back of the net again inside the opening 20 minutes through Raphinha, although on that occasion the clear offside required no VAR lines to prove it.
However, Marcelo Bielsa’s side didn’t have to wait much longer for their opening goal, with Patrick Bamford turning home Jack Harrison’s cross with a tidy finish to fire Leeds ahead – and fire back at his non-selection for the national team by England manager Gareth Southgate in the process.
But Fulham struck back to level before the break, with centre-back Joachim Andersen volleying home a corner on 38 minutes. And it was the Cottagers who could count themselves unlucky not to be ahead at half-time, with young goalkeeper Illan Meslier making a number of fine saves in the Leeds goal.
Parker looked to take advantage of Leeds’ defensive vulnerability by bringing on Aleksandar Mitrovic for the second-half, but it was Fulham’s own issues at the back that proved their undoing, with sloppy defending allowing Bamford to feed Raphinha for the visitors’ second.
Leeds could and should have extended their lead with a number of chances on the break late on, but in the end two goals were enough to secure a seventh win away from home of the season.
The win takes Leeds to within two points of Arsenal and the top-half of the Premier League table, albeit having played at least one game more than the cluster of clubs above them.
Fulham have eight games remaining to save their Premier League status, with Aston Villa next up for the Cottagers on 3 April.
Talking Point – Can Fulham survive?
Fulham are a really nice side to watch who clearly want to play good football, and given time in the top-flight then Scott Parker could, it seems, turn them into a pretty hand outfit.
But too often they fail to pick up results in games like this, and there’s only so many times you can drop points before you end up stranded.
Newcastle and Brighton now have the chance to put some daylight between themselves and Fulham in the bottom three, and Parker really needs to find out a way to start picking up wins before it’s too late (if it’s not too late already).
Man of the Match – Raphinha (Leeds United)
Bamford was good up top, but Brazilian creative midfielder Raphinha was the spark again for Leeds, as he so often is.
The 24-year-old is a class act, pulling the strings in the final third for his side while posing plenty of goal threat himself. In this sort of form it is he who should be the most disappointed Leeds player not to be receiving international recognition.
9’ – Ayling thinks he’s opened the scoring for Leeds with a brilliant header at the back post, and celebrates by letting those luscious locks of his flow free. But VAR spots an offside in the build-up and rules it out. The game remains 0-0.
20’ – Raphinha tucks the ball home, but he had started his run too early and the flag goes up as his shot hits the back of the net. That was the right call again.
26’ – A spot of head tennis in the box eventually sees the ball fall to Maja, who hits a powerful shot on the turn. But Meslier pulls out a ridiculous reaction stop to deny Fulham, with Ayling clearing the loose ball off the line.
29’ GOAL! – Leeds take the lead and this time it does stand! Fulham fail to switch on as Harrison gets in down the left from a throw, and Bamford is quickest to react to the cross, tucking his shot past Areola. 1-0.
38’ GOAL! – Lookman’s corner isn’t dealt with by Leeds and Andersen holds off Ayling to meet it on the volley and score his first goal for Fulham. 1-1!
39’ – Leeds almost gift Fulham a second, but their goalkeeper bails them out twice in quick succession, first sliding out to clear off the feet of Maja and then getting down well to save from Anguissa.
58’ GOAL! – Fulham give the ball away sloppily in midfield and Bamford does well to thread a pass through to Raphinha, who flicks the ball beyond the keeper under pressure from two covering defenders. It’s a classy finish and Leeds are back in front. 2-1!
81’ – Raphinha finds Dallas as Leeds spring on the Fulham back four, but the midfielder’s shot slides wide of the far post. That should have been the third goal for the visitors and Dallas knows it.
83’ – So close! Raphinha’s corner is flicked on by Ayling and the ball almost finds the far corner, with Harrison scrambling to try and turn it in too. Somehow Fulham survive.
87’ – Oh that’s a good save! Leeds are pushing hard to wrap this up and Alioski drags a great save out of the keeper as Fulham cling on.
Stats and Facts
Leeds United have conceded 15 goals from set-pieces in the Premier League this season, four more than any other side.
Fulham have lost ten games at home this season, the second highest of any team in the division after bottom side Sheffield United.
Leeds’ seventh away win is the most by a promoted club since Wigan won eight on the road in 2006.