Match report: Leeds United 1 AFC Bournemouth 0

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LEEDS United ended their winless run in the Championship against the division’s best side as Luke Murphy’s stunner sunk Bournemouth 1-0 at Elland Road.

The improving Whites were full value for their victory but had to survive the drama of the Cherries blasting an 87th-minute penalty over the bar.

Giuseppe Bellusci was sent off for a professional foul on Callum Wilson which looked outside the area but justice was perhaps done as substitute Yann Kermorgant smashed his spot kick against the crossbar and over.

The hugely significant win propelled United six points clear of the Championship dropzone and ended a winless run of eight games by completing the double over the league leaders.

The victory also provided the perfect pick-me-up for a club rocked on Monday when president Massimo Cellino lost his appeal into being disqualified for being the owner of Leeds.

Neil Redfearn made just the one change with Alex Mowatt brought in for Mirco Antenucci as the head coach opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation as opposed to the 4-4-2 used in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham.

Luke Murphy

Luke Murphy

That formation saw Lewis Cook fielded out of position as a left winger but the changed line-up put the 17-year-old back as a holding midfielder alongside Mowatt.

Rodolph Austin was selected in the number ten role with Sam Byram and Saturday’s goalscorer Luke Murphy either side of him, all behind Steve Morison upfront.

At the back, Scott Wootton kept his place at right back, alongside centre-backs Giuseppe Bellusci and Liam Cooper who retained captaincy and left back Charlie Taylor.

Leeds began with a bit of early pressure through an early free-kick and corner but the alarm bells were ringing after just the fifth minute when Mowatt lost the ball in deep midfield.

From an initial Leeds corner, Callum Wilson intercepted and ran half the length of the field as Whites shirts chased in vain but ultimately Wilson skewed a never dangerous shot wide.

Marc Pugh was also looking increasingly threatening down the left flank and on eight minutes he all too easily fizzed in a low cross which Brett Pitman fired just wide.

The miss was followed by a few boos from the Elland Road faithful and Leeds responded through a Mowatt cross at the other end which found Austin whose header was tipped over.

But amidst a lively beginning, five minutes later Leeds looked destined to take the lead when a raking counter-attacking run from Austin ended with a Steve Morison cross which deflected off Simon Francis but somehow into ‘keeper Artur Boric’s grateful hands.

The home crowd were then incensed when Cook was booked for a strong tackle on the edge of Bournemouth’s box.

Austin then fired a low shot just wide from 20 yards as United’s improvement continued and Leeds were then handed a golden chance in the 20th minute when Andrew Surman lost the ball as the Cherries attempted to break out of defence.

Morison capitalised by feeding Austin whose thumping shot had Boruc beaten all ends up but went just wide.

And after a relative period of calm, Murphy produced a rasping rising drive from the angle just outside the area which Boruc saw late but spectacularly tipped over.

Bournemouth looked to come back into the contest as a Charlie Daniels cross forced a corner and a bit of panic in the United defence but just moments later United’s fans were in raptures as an absolute worldie strike from man of the moment Murphy gave them a 35th-minute lead.

Austin fed the in-form midfielder on the right flank some 25 yards from goal and there appeared little danger but the 25-year-old cut inside and produced a thunderbolt of a rising shot that left Boruc flapping at thin air as the ball moved rapier-like into the top left hand corner.

The stunning goal was greeted by almost disbelieving cheers from the Whites faithful - United were beating the leaders through open play and deservedly so - but just three minutes later Bournemouth thought they were level when a low cross found Pitman who easily tapped in.

The striker spun away in celebration but the offside flag was greeted by large sarcastic jeers by the Elland Road crowd who just three minutes later had Marco Silvestri to thank for preserving their lead.

A dangerous left flank cross was flicked on by first Pugh and then Pitman and Wilson was left with an open goal but got no semblance of power on his shot, allowing Silvestri to gather his footing and just prevent the ball from going over the line.

But United deservedly led 1-0 at the interval and within one minute of the restart Bournemouth could have been down to ten men.

A through ball had Morison clean through on goal, albeit some way out, and Simon Francis clipped the striker’s heels to bring him down but Morison’s distance from goal and the presence of other defenders probably swayed referee Oliver Langford to produce a yellow card and not a red.

The home crowd were incensed but Leeds continued were they left off with Cook spraying balls around the park like an experienced pro, never mind a youngster who will turn 18 on February 3.

United forced a series of corners but Bournemouth attempted to respond with a spell of pressure of their own and a terrible clearance from Silvestri fell straight to Matt Ritchie who was presented with an open goal from 40 yards but his wayward volley went well wide.

Cherries manager Eddie Howe responded by throwing on Yann Kermorgant and Dan Gosling in a double change but it was Callum Wilson offering the main threat and on the hour his left-sided cross past an onrushing Silvestri trickled just wide, thankfully also avoiding United’s defenders and another horlicks own goal.

Then, minutes later, Wilson worked space to become one on one with Silvestri from the same angle but his chipped effort again went just wide.

Bournemouth should have been level and Redfearn then withdrew a seemingly injured Morison for Billy Sharp but Leeds looked to have weathered the storm as Bournemouth made their final change with Junior Stanislas on for Ritchie with 17 minutes left.

And on 78 minutes Leeds had a golden chance to make the points safe when the outstanding Cook fed Byram whose shot was denied by Boruc’s feet with the rebound falling to the onrushing Austin whose header was cleared off the line.

The failure to take those chances then so nearly proved costly just two minutes later when the lively Pugh wriggled free in the area but his effort cannoned back off the right hand post with the ball eventually cleared in a desperate mad scramble.

But United’s fans were then left with that sinking feeling with just four minutes to go when a clear on goal Wilson was hauled down by Giuseppe Bellusci as he approached the penalty area and referee Langford pointed to the spot.

Bellusci was given his marching orders for a professional foul as Kermorgant stepped up to take the spot kick with the opportunity to grab a share of the spoils.

But the Bournemouth’s substitute’s powerful penalty smashed against Silvestri’s crossbar and over, much to the sheer elation of the Elland Road crowd.

At last United had luck on their side but the Whites still had to survive six nervy minutes of injury time but Bournemouth’s last chance which fell to captain Tommy Elphick curled over the bar.

And for once there was to be no late heartache for United who survived the late Cherries onslaught to end a highly frustrating run and move above Brighton and six points clear of the dropzone.

Perhaps more significant is that United had beaten the league’s leaders - again - and deservedly so.

Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, C Taylor, Byram, Cook, Murphy, Austin (Berardi 90), Mowatt (Pearce 88), Morison (Sharp 67). Subs: S Taylor, Bianchi, Doukara, Antenucci.

Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie (Stanislas 72), Arter (Gosling 59), Surman, Pugh, Pitman (Kermorgant 59), Wilson. Subs not used: Allsop, Smith, O’Kane, Fraser.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 17,634.

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