Newcastle United 1 Leeds United 1
- Mike Dean
Newcastle earned just their second point of the Premier League campaign as Allan Saint-Maximin’s leveller denied Leeds victory at St. James’ Park on Friday night.
The Magpies were firmly second-best early on though there was an element of fortune about the visitors’ opener, with Raphinha’s in-swinging cross evading a touch from anyone before ending up in the back of the net.
Leeds had plenty of opportunities to double their lead but, after finally getting a foothold in the game, Newcastle restored parity before the interval through the excellent Saint-Maximin – a thorn in the Whites’ side all night.
Though there were still decent opportunities at either end of the pitch, the second period was far less frantic and the clash ended all-square – leaving both sides winless in the Premier League five games in.
As said, though, it was Leeds who made all of the early running, with their first sight of goal coming in the 12th minute. Spaniard Rodrigo found a pocket of space on the left and squared for Raphinha, who got a touch to the ball but failed to generate the power necessary to test the returning Karl Darlow. Just seconds later, though, with Raphinha looking to turn provider himself, the Brazilian’s right-wing cross missed Rodrigo, bounced inside the six-yard box and nestled in the far corner to give the visitors the lead.
With the Magpies already looking ragged, Marcelo Bielsa’s side continued to pile the pressure on. Mateusz Klich saw a low strike held by Darlow, before Raphinha came close to adding to his tally after pouncing on a loose ball. Midway through the half, United finally offered some sort of threat themselves, with Miguel Almirón firing narrowly wide and Joelinton seeing a scuffed effort kept out by Illan Meslier. In fairness to the Brazilian, though, he was one of the Magpies’ most impressive performers during a largely lacklustre opening half-hour.
An end-to-end period followed, with England international Kalvin Phillips curling one wide for Leeds and the Magpies’ Joe Willock lifting the ball high of the target from the edge of the penalty area. United kept up their sense of purpose and, after Matt Ritchie’s deflected effort hit the post, they managed to equalise through Saint-Maximin, who held off a series of challenges before slamming the ball into the opposite corner. Even then, though, Newcastle were fortunate to go into the interval on level terms, with Raphinha, Dan James and Junior Firpo all squandering decent chances for Leeds during a frenetic end to the half.
The second period started in considerably more chilled manner. With the tempo having dropped, United nearly shot themselves in the foot after 54 minutes, with Darlow needing to make a last-gasp intervention to stop Jamaal Lascelles’ attempted clearance from dropping into the Leazes End net. The ever lively Saint-Maximin then called Meslier into action at the other end, forcing his French compatriot to parry a strike from a tight angle.
Leeds’ best chance of a winner came in the 72nd minute. Rodrigo threaded a fine ball through for Patrick Bamford, but the frontman failed to muster up any sort of ferocity behind his shot. Sparked back into action, the Magpies looked to land a punch of their own but Meslier was equal to another Saint-Maximin shot.
In marked contrast to how they started the game, Newcastle were the livelier late on but, despite Saint-Maxmin’s best efforts – the wide-man bringing another decent stop out of Meslier with a piledriver – 1-1 was how it remained.