Leeds United 0 Wigan Athletic 2 - report and Phil Hay’s post-match video verdict

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LEEDS United slipped closer to the Championship dropzone as Wigan Athletic ruined the Whites’ Christmas with a 2-0 Boxing Day victory at Elland Road.

The misfiring Whites gifted Wigan a first-half opener through Liam Cooper’s bizarre own goal, with the outstanding James McClean sealing United’s second home loss in a row seven minutes from time.

The defeat leaves Leeds fifth bottom and just four points above the dropzone and on Tuesday night a trip to third-placed Derby County is next.

Whites boss Neil Redfearn made two changes to the starting line up which drew 1-1 at Nottingham Forest with Giuseppe Bellusci replacing Jason Pearce and Michael Tonge coming in for Adryan.

United approached the game five points clear of the Championship dropzone and seven points above second-bottom Wigan but without a win in three games.

The superb 3-1 beating of then leaders Derby County in November had been followed by a heavy 4-1 loss at Ipswich Town and a 1-0 home loss to Fulham.

Liam Cooper

Liam Cooper

But the previous week’s battling 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest had been a step back in the right direction.

Wigan kicked off and began with a few minutes of pressure but the omens looked good for Leeds when Sam Byram - in his 99th game for Leeds - intercepted and made the first of several threating forrays down the right hand side.

Stephen Warnock was becoming similarly threatening down the left but it was from another Byram run that Alex Mowatt was presented with United’s first chance but he blazed over from 20 yards.

There was little coming back the other way, except for a dispuited corner that was easily cleared, but after 11 minutes Leeds pressed the self district button and not for the first time this season.

A long raking ball set Wigan’s James McClean the task of beating Giuseppe Bellusci for pace down the left hand side and McClean easily won the battle before producing a powerful cross.

Yet despite there being a lack of any alarming onrushing Wigan attackers into the penalty area, Liam Cooper inexplicably produced a running chest of the ball which fizzed past Marco Silvestri and into the back of the net.

The latest Whites horlicks was understandably met by moans and groans and Wigan then threatened to make it 2-0 with McClean’s pace down the left hand side again the catalyst.

His endeavours won Wigan a corner taken by captain Ben Watson and Chris McCann went close to making it 2-0 only to head on to the roof of the net.

At the other end, Warnock’s half volley from range was the best the Whites could muster, an effort that ended high into the crowd behind the goal.

But from another foray down the left hand side, this time by Andy Taylor, McCann won a header which again resulted in the ball narrowly sailing over Silvestri’s cross bar.

Leeds were struggling for inspiration but they were so nearly level after 28 minutes from Mirco Antenucci’s cross out on the left hand flank.

His curling delivery was met by Billy Sharp whose looping header had ‘keeper Scott Carson beat all ends up, only to cannon back off the crossbar.

Wigan respodned with Marc-Antoine Fortune shooting well wide from range while for Leeds, Giuseppe Bellusci fed Mirco Antenucci but his low shot was easily gathered by Carson.

Leeds then began to build a bit more pressure towards the end of the half and from a right sided corner, a scramble fell to Tommaso Bianchi whose looping effort curled wide - never dangerous but actually closer than it first appeared.

Sharp then decided to let fly from around 25 yards on the right hand side but his effort thundered back off the advertising boards.

Bellusci and Bryam then led another counter attack on the right hand side only for a mix up in communication to end the attack but just 30 seconds later Wigan had a great chance to go 2-0 up.

Another long punt left Fortune one on one with Silvestri, albeit at an angle, but his low effort was saved by the Italian to keep Leeds competitive.

But a half with four minutes of injury time still ended with Wigan looking most dangerous, through a left hand corner that curled dangerously wide and then when another long ball asked questions of Cooper and Bellusci who eventually cleared with composure.

But United were booed off at the interval and had big questions to answer in the second half.

Redfearn opted to introduce striker Steve Morison and powerful midfielder Austin at the interval with Bianchi and Mowatt respectively the duo sacrificed.

Leeds were now playing with Sharp, Antenucci and Morison upfront and began brightly with two Warnock crosses causing problems and Austin shooting wide from range but at the other end a right wing free-kick led to another nervy scramble in United’s box from which Rob Kiernan curled a shot wide.

At the other end, Sharp’s cross was headed behind for a corner just when Morison was waiting to nod home and that attack began a barrage of Leeds pressure.

First Cook fed Antenucci inside the area and the Italian’s shot from eight yards looked destined to find the net only to be deflected wide.

From one of two subsequent corners, Bellusci then rifled a high effort from all of 25 yards that needed brilliantly tipping over the crossbar from Carson.

But an hour had passed with Wigan still leading and Cook’s effort from range was easily held by Carson and it was a similar story from Austin’s effort four minutes later.

And Wigan remained a threat at the other end with Silvestri forced to parry away McClean’s shot on the turn with Bellusci desperately hacking away the rebound.

Leeds had around 20 minutes to find a leveller - let alone not concede a second - and Redfearn’s final throw of the dice from the substitute’s bench was to withdraw Sharp for Souleymane Doukara to join Morison and Antenucci up top.

An unhappy Sharp reacted by lashing out at a water bottle on his way down the tunnel but Leeds immediately went close when a Morison knock-down found Tonge who was only denied by a fine tackle.

But Wigan then went mightily close to sealing the contest when clever footwork allowed McClean to burst into the United area, his thumping low shot well deflected away by Silvestri.

United hit back with Morison only just denied by a fingertip save from Carson to tip the ball over before Byram blasted over another chance from close range, resulting from Warnock’s corner.

From Byram’s pass, Morison then scuffed another effort wide before claims for a United penalty for handball were waved away by referee Nigel Miller.

United were then again thanking Wigan’s inability to be ruthless when substitute Roger Espinoza was released one on one, only to fire his powerful effort just wide of Silvestri’s post.

But the Whites ran out of lives just two minutes later when the outstanding McClean was fed just inside the area before unleashing an unstoppable drive past Silvestri and into the roof of the net.

The goal was greeted by a chorus of boos inside Elland Road - followed by a mass exodus with seven minutes still to go.

But United’s fans had seen enough - a second successive home defeat was imminent - and again - through Cooper’s own goal - Leeds had been the master of their own undoing.

Leeds United goalkeeper, Felix Wiedwald.

Phil Hay – Inside Elland Road: Getting the basics right still vital for Leeds United’s Felix Wiedwald