- Leeds win late due to injury-time penalty from Rafinha
- Palace defender Mark Guhy decided to handle the ball in the 91st minute
- Referee Kevin Friend awarded a spot kick after video assistant referee checks
He needed 93 minutes and help from an opposition player and VAR. But Leeds finally found a way to win at land Road on Tuesday night – right when they needed it most.
It was looking for all the money that Marcelo Bielsa’s struggling side would have to settle for a second straight stalemate, which would have done little to ease the growing nerves around West Yorkshire.
But from an injury-timed corner, Crystal Palace defender Mark Guhy held off a hand to block Liam Cooper’s header from Rafinha’s corner.
Leeds winger Rafinha scored an injury-time penalty to claim a much-needed victory
Rafinha held his nerve to score, firing the ball in front of Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guetta
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Messier 6; Dallas 6.5, Llorente 6, Cooper 6, Struijk 5.5 (Firpo 45, 6); Philips 7, Forshaw 7.5; Rafinha 7, Cliché 6 (Rodrigo 45, 5.5), James 7; Roberts 6 (Creswell 95).
Subscription not used: Klasson, Creswell, Jenkins, Harrison, Shackleton, Somerville, Gellhardt.
Scorers: rufinha 93
booked out: Struijk, Dallas, Firpo
manager: blsa 6
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guetta 6; Ward 5.5, Tomkins 6, Gui 6, Mitchell 6.5; Gallagher 7.5, Couet 6.5, Schlupp 6.5 (Hughes 80, 6); J au 6 (Olis 90), Edouard 5.5 (Bentec 68, 5.5), Zaha 6.
Subscription not used: Butland, Milivojevic, AZ, Klein, Kelly, Riedewald.
booked out: Ward, Gallagher
manager: Viera 6.5
Referee: Kashmir friend 7
And when referee Kevin Friend consulted his pitchside monitor and then pointed to the spot, Rafinha shrugged off his penalty to give Leeds their second home win of the season – and blown off the roof of land Road.
‘Relief is there and we can breathe again,’ admitted boss Balsa, whose side have now moved up to 15th place and, crucially, three to five points clear of the bottom.
‘It was a victory that was much needed. We really hoped that we could win this game because the results we were getting were not good enough.
In such an important match, it is not easy to score a penalty in the last minute. Rafinha has been very important and it took a lot of character, personality and courage to achieve that goal. He got us three points.
In fact, match-winner Rafinha has been Leeds’ only shining light this season and his sixth goal of the season may well have changed the whole story of his campaign.
Coming into this, the chatter was overwhelmingly negative, and questions were being raised about Bilsa’s relationship with even their best player, Calvin Phillips.
The England midfielder had started the last two matches in mid-half and was hooked at half-time in last Saturday’s standoff in Brighton.
But Bielsa reinstated Phillips to his preferred position and it paid off immediately.
Leeds boss Marcelo Bilsa saw his side claim a crucial victory and move up to 15th in the table
“I saw a lot of things on social media and on TV that I and the manager had a split, that never happened and I wanted to end it,” Phillips later said.
‘I respect him so much that I will never fall for him. I will play any position if asked by the manager.
It’s not like Bielsa will think about changing her star man again after this.
It was Phillips who wowed the crowd from the start with a crunching tackle on Conor Gallagher. And he made one of his side’s best efforts of the first half when he won the ball back in the final third, went into the box and then just fired the over.
Christian Benteke should have scored when Wilfried Zaha picked him for a free header
Crystal Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher faces challenge from Adam Forshaw
Nevertheless, chances were at a premium for both sides, who went into the break without registering a single shot on target.
Bielsa had seen enough and made two changes at intervals, introducing Rodrigo, who should have broken the deadlock, but shot wide under pressure from keeper Vicente Guetta.
Christian Benteke had 22 minutes to go, before Palace owner Patrick Vieira shuffled his pack.
The striker – whose Premier League goalscoring record is only third behind Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney on Tuesday – should have scored when Wilfried Zaha picked him up for a free header at the back post.
He then forced trapped Ilan Meslier to save a melee as he hit a shot toward goal from Jordan Ayu’s reckoning pass.
But Palace and Benteke had to pay for those omissions when, in extra time, the referee friend eventually handed a penalty for the home side – Rafinha made no mistake.
Crystal Palace forward Odsonne clashes with Leeds’ Stuart Dallas at Edouard Aland Road
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha could not direct his volley on goal in the second half
‘I’ve seen it again and I believe it was a penalty,’ admitted Vieira, a liberal Vieira as his 12th team lost their second game in a row.
‘I really believe we were the better team but we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.
“We knew the season would be long and we would have some ups and downs. It is important to stick together and work even harder.
Crystal Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher hits his free kick on the wall on Tuesday night