Ian Wright pinpoints Leeds United edge over Burnley amid praise for the star of final day drama

BBC pundit Ian Wright believes that star quality was the difference between Premier League relegation and survival for Leeds United.

By Flora Snelson
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 4:45 pm

United stayed in the top flight by the skin of their teeth after a final day victory over Brentford gave them a three-point advantage over relegation rivals Burnley, who lost at home to Newcastle United.

Tied on points on the morning of the final day of the season, it was destined to be fine margins separating the sides at the final whistle on Sunday May 22.

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After the Whites' crucial win was sealed by goals from Raphinha and Jack Harrison, the club's top and second-top goal-scorers for the season, Wright identified the key difference between United and the Clarets which, in the end, proved decisive.

"Chris Wood left in January and he's still on there [among Burnley's top goalscorers]," Wright remarked on Match of the Day.

On a huge day in the club's history, Leeds fought to pull out one of the side's best performances of the season at the Brentford Community Stadium.

Among the top performers was Raphinha, who won and scored the penalty which gave United the lead before drawing the foul from Sergi Canos which left Brentford weakened as the visitors hunted a late winner.

BBC pundit and former England former Ian Wright. Pic: Catherine Ivill.

Wright could not overstate the importance of the Brazilian's contribution on Sunday.

"Raphinha has come to the party for them when they needed him most, eleven goals this season with three assists," Wright said.

"I think for a player of his capabilities he should have done more but, in this game, he looked like he was up for it.

"Every opportunity he got to try and shoot - he took it.

Raphinha celebrates scoring a penalty during Leeds United's 2-1 win over Brentford. Pic: Alex Davidson.

"And then this was his chance - he was in the right place, got the penalty - great skill there - got up, and takes it very well under immense pressure. Super penalty."

The fight for avoid relegation was incredibly but close but, in the end, Leeds' decision to sack Marcelo Bielsa midway through the Premier League season paid off - but Wright hopes that, now, the manager who has masterminded the Whites' survival is shown a greater level of support.

"I think that the Leeds board is probably breathing a sigh of relief because, yes, they've been unlucky with injuries, but in January they should have strengthened that team, that team is thin," Wright said.

"I think Bielsa was treated badly in the end - he brought a Championship team up, did brilliantly in the league and, in the end, when they ran out of steam because they didn't back him, they sack him, so hopefully they'll back Jesse Marsch."

Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch expresses relief at the final whistle of the Whites' 2-1 win over Brentford. Pic: Ben Hoskins.