Newcastle United v Leeds United: Why the YEP fans’ panel felt Rodrigo redeemed himself at St James’ Park

Leeds United didn’t get the result they wanted at Newcastle last Friday night but it wasn’t for the want of trying - and that was hugely appreciated by our Yorkshire Evening Post Leeds United fans’ jury.

Newcastle United v Leeds United man-of-the-match contender, Rodrigo. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.
Newcastle United v Leeds United man-of-the-match contender, Rodrigo. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

And also appreciataed was the performance of Rodrigo.

The Spaniard has come in for a degree of criticism so far this season but his performance against the Magpies made him a man-of-the-match contender in the eyes of our panel. Young goalkeeper Illan Meslier also caught the eye of our jurors.

Both played their part in securing a point from the encounter which, pleasing that was, the small matter of securing the first three-pointer of the season is something that remains of moderate concern.

Newcastle United v Leeds United man-of-the-match contender, Illan Meslier. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.


Well, I was nervous when I saw that every member of the jury had gone for a Leeds victory; when we do that you can guarantee we don’t win!

We should have done, of course; in a rampant first half we wasted enough chances to have won three or four games. That’s not to say Newcastle didn’t have chances too, but ours were generally more clear cut and a 2-4 half-time score would have been about right!

Sadly, after Raphinha’s cross crept in at the back post to give Leeds a well-deserved lead, we just didn’t capitalise on our dominance and the speed and trickery of Saint Maximin always looked likely to undo us. Just before the break it did, of course.

Newcastle came out for the second half with a different formation and renewed hope buoyed by that 44th-minute equaliser and they arguably had better chances than we did in a less frantic second period.

But, overall, this was better from Leeds, especially when one considers the number of players who were missing.

However, there are still several players who continue to look well below the highs of last season.

Man of the match: Illan Meslier.


Leeds still await their first win of their second season in the Premier League but will be buoyed by a much better performance in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at St James Park.

If certain players had brought their shooting boots, without doubt one point would have been three. Not a criticism just a simple fact.

Marcelo Bielsa was without three centre-backs, two through injury (Llorente and Koch) and Struijk suspended so Luke Ayling moved to centre-half with the versatile Stuart Dallas at right-back.

He was also without Jack Harrison through illness. New signing Dan James came into midfield with Mateusz Klich.

Leeds dominated proceedings in the majority of the first half and should have had more to show for their efforts than a clever shot-cum-cross that Rodrigo let between his legs to fool Darlow in the Newcastle goal.

Leeds should have had a penalty when James was ‘assaulted’ in the penalty box but the referee or VAR saw nothing wrong with the attack on the winger.

Phillips then had an effort that just went past a post as did Rodrigo.

If you don’t take your opportunities, the opposition will finally get one and, when it fell to Saint-Maximan, he danced around four defenders to give the hosts the equaliser with a shot that went inside Illan Meslier’s post.

Rodrigo, in injury time, set up a golden chance for James but his shot was blocked and Junior Firpo fired miserably over the bar from the rebound.

In the second half, Leeds seemed to lose the impetous and Newcastle came more into the game.

They did have a let-off, mind you, when a defender deflected a ball towards his own goal but Darlow got a glove to it before it was cleared.

It was an end-to-end half as both teams went for the win; unfortunately for Leeds, they couldn’t find the killer pass when in great positions.

Leeds introduced Tyler Roberts for James and gave Crysencio Summerville his debut in place of an unhappy-looking Raphinha but the game ended up with both teams sharing the points.

It was a better performance than their last away game at Burnley, under performing Rodrigo had a good game, as did Raphinha, and, despite getting a torid 90 minutes, captain Liam Cooper stuck as close to Saint-Maximan as was humanly possible, the winger seems to have wings on his boots when he gets going.

Meslier also deserves credit for a couple of good saves.

Man of the match: Rodrigo.


This was a hard-fought draw against a desperate opponent. Leeds played well but failed to take chances and so they had to be satisfied with a single point.

Although the Whites dominated for large parts of the game, Newcastle often looked dangerous on the break with the irrepressible Allan Saint Maximin making a nuisance of himself all over the place.

Liam Cooper must have had nightmares about the Frenchman especially after St Maximin’s excellent goal just before half-time. Nevertheless, the Leeds captain stuck to his task and managed to contain the uncontainable for the rest of the game. Illan Meslier was also having a fine game dealing with everything that the Magpies threw at him. Earlier, the improving Rodrigo had the presence of mind to lift his leg to allow Raphinha’s powerfully hit cross to bamboozle Darlow and give Leeds the lead.

More of the shine was polished off United’s performance by injuries to Raphinha and Luke Ayling and the rejection of a strong penalty claim after Dan James was upended in the box.

Man of the match: Illan Meslier.


Well, it could have been better, it could have been worse. A point is a point and, for a squad that’s depleting by the day, we take a draw and we move on.

Pre-match rumours of a Jack Harrison Covid case and a Raphinha injury were false, it was just the former who missed out, whilst the latter netted the opening goal via a cross that was left brilliantly by Rodrigo.

Leeds went close through Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich before Allan Saint Maximin equalised minutes before the break, although there was still time for Raphinha and Junior Firpo to squander glorious chances before the half came to a close. The second half wasn’t as intense as the first, and it was quite difficult for the Whites to gain a real foothold owing to the lack of options on the young and inexperienced bench.

It was a relief to finally see Crysencio Summerville make his debut, and the Dutch winger made a few nice touches. One to watch this campaign. The contest was one which neither side could afford to lose but, on another day, Leeds could have run away with it in the first half.

Man of the match: Rodrigo.


On paper, this game was one where three points might have been expected.

And, for the first half an hour, maximum points looked like a real possibility. Leeds we’re in almost full control but couldn’t add to their one-goal lead. Despite their dominance, the threat of being exposed in midfield and defence was always there and, in Allan Saint-Maximin, Leeds had a particular nemesis. Without him, the Magpies wouldn’t have been half as threatening but it seemed like United didn’t have a plan to deal with him.

At times he ran riot and put Leeds’ chance of a point in danger. If the Whites are to pick up three points any time soon, they will need to become less naive defensively. Going forward, though, Leeds looked capable of scoring far more than just once. Patrick Bamford was quiet but Rodrigo came alive in his absence.

If Leeds had had a stronger bench, perhaps the three points would have come back to West Yorkshire. There were definitely signs of improvement but worrying traits remained.

Man of the match: Rodrigo.