Crystal Palace 0 Leeds United 0

Last updated : 23 May 2022 By Kevin Markey

Leeds United moved five points clear of the Premier League relegation zone following a fiercely contested goalless draw at Crystal Palace.

In a scrappy, sometimes bad-tempered clash Wilfried Zaha came closest to scoring but saw his powerful shot well held by Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

England midfielder Conor Gallagher also fired a half-volley narrowly over the crossbar from the edge of the area as Leeds secured their second successive clean sheet.

The visitors offered little as an attacking threat with a Liam Cooper header straight at home goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and a shot from substitute Joe Gelhardt their only efforts on target.

In the last 10 minutes Zaha twice had attempts blocked by the legs of Meslier as Leeds held on for what could prove to be a valuable point.


The result leaves Leeds - who play Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea in their next three games before ending the season with matches against Brighton and Brentford - in 16th place on 34 points, although 18th-placed Everton, on 29 points, have a game in hand.


League leaders Manchester City are one point above Liverpool and travel to Elland Road on Saturday, with Leeds boss Jesse Marsch calling Pep Guardiola's side the "biggest Goliath in football in the world".


However, Marsch said his side would not play with any fear, adding: "I know a little bit about the way Pep likes to play. We will try to create an aggressive gameplan but one that can also help us find a way to get a result.


"I know what this game will require and how good the opponent is, but, whatever, let's go for it."


Only bottom-of-the-table Norwich City (69) have conceded more Premier League goals this season than Leeds' 68 but in the seven games since Marsch replaced the sacked Marcelo Bielsa in February, the American has turned Leeds into a team that is hard to beat.


Aided by superb defending, with Cooper and Diego Llorente repeatedly making crucial blocks, tackles or interceptions, Leeds will feel they got the point their hard work merited, and, with a tough run of fixtures coming up, will be happy with the result.


For Palace, who lost in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley earlier this month, the draw takes them on to 38 points and surely secures what will be a 10th successive season in the top flight.


The match at a packed and passionate Selhurst Park was played at a frenetic pace throughout, but with both sides repeatedly lacking quality in the final areas.


The hosts had an early chance when Leeds failed to deal with a ball forward and Palace's Jean-Philippe Mateta got to it before the advancing Meslier but did not get enough power on the shot and Llorente was able to clear.


Mateta also headed at Meslier and another opportunity saw him unable to get a clean connection on Jordan Ayew's superb cross from the right wing.


For Leeds, who handed a first start in 2022 to England midfielder Kalvin Phillips after a hamstring injury, Cooper's tame header at the back post from Jack Harrison's corner was their only attempt on target in the opening 45 minutes.


Things threatened to boil over in the last few minutes of the first half, with Leeds players incensed when the often-fouled Zaha pushed his hand into the face of Raphinha, but avoided a booking, before Palace defender Joachim Andersen was shown a yellow card when sliding in late on Rodrigo.


The bad-tempered nature of the match continued early in the second half with Leeds' Daniel James catching Joel Ward, with the defender reacting angrily and both players getting cautioned.


Palace ended the game strongly with Leeds forced to defend deep as they battled to secure the point.


But Leeds got the draw they deserved and have now picked up 11 points from the seven games under Marsch.


Phillips, back in the starting 11 for the first time since 5 December, said: "My first start in almost four months and I was happy to be out there.


"We started OK first half but disappointed not to get three points. We go into every game wanting three points but if we can't score, we have to shut up shop and we did that."


However, the Leeds and England midfielder was unhappy with Crystal Palace's Zaha and added: "He is a good player, but we defended against him well as a team.


"The ref complained at us for fouling him but I think he dives a lot to be honest with you."


Vieira defended the Ivory Coast international, saying: "I was happy Wilf Zaha kept his cool because it looked like they planned to stop him by fouling him.


"That won't be the first time teams try to frustrate him."