Leeds United 2 Crystal Palace 1: New Elland Road era starts with victory
SECOND-HALF goals from Luciano Becchio and Paul Green ended Leeds United’s disspirting seven-match winless streak in style as the Whites ushered in the GFH Capital era with a much-needed victory.
Becchio’s instinctive finish from close range - his first from open play since September 22 - put the hosts in front seven minutes after the break with Green’s first goal for the club on 76 minutes sealing the deal for United, as Palace slumped to their first defeat in 15 matches.
Peter Ramage set up an anxious finale for Whites fans after powerfully heading in Kagisho Dikgacoi’s cross for the visitors, but it deservedly proved United’s day.
Palace had the first opportunity after the restart with Ward dragging his effort across goal before United forged a breakthrough on 52 minutes.
Becchio was on hand to finish from close range after a header from Green following skipper Lee Peltier’s cross ricocheted invitingly into his path in front of the Kop - the Argentine striker’s 11th goal of the campaign.
Palace, with their unbeaten Championship run very much on the line, were facing a serious character examination and despite pressing, they struggled to carve out substantive chances.
United then earned themselves a two-goal buffer to the ecstasy of the Kop with Green firing home a crisp volley, which deflected in following Peltier’s free kick on 76 minutes.
Despite Ramage pulling one back, United held out despite some nervy moments in five minutes of added time as Palace threw bodies forward in a desperate bid to maintain their lengthy unbeaten run.
Leeds United: Kenny; Byram, Lees, Tate, Peltier; Green, Norris, Tonge, Thomas (Poleon 75, Brown 90); Diouf (McCormack 82), Becchio. Substitutes not used: Ashdown, White, Brown, Gray, Hall.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward (Wilbraham 90), Ramage, Delaney, Parr; Bolasie (Easter 68), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Garvan (Moritz 65), Zaha; Murray. Substitites not used: Moxey, O’Keefe, Gabbidon, Price.