LONDON (AP) — Leeds moved five points clear of the relegation zone by drawing at Crystal Palace 0-0 in the English Premier League on Monday.
The team coached by American Jesse Marsch has been sucked back into the relegation fight by the improved form of Burnley and has some tough opponents among its remaining five games, starting with Manchester City at the weekend and followed by Arsenal and Chelsea.
So every point could be crucial, and it was earned after Palace striker Jean-Philippe Mateta wasted the best of the chances, failing to really test Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
“We, as a group, were disappointed with the performance but it’s a big point that gets us closer to our overall goal,” Marsch said. “A night where we bend but we don’t break. We know the point was valuable.”
Palace was able to bring an end to its three-match losing streak in all competitions but remained in 14th, nine points above the bottom three.
Marsch and Palace manager Patrick Vieira faced each other nine times while in charge of New York Red Bulls and New York City, respectively, and the games were often fiery. The one at Selhurst Park also had its moments of tension just before the break.
Palace had the first opportunity of the match with a long, direct ball over the top to Mateta, who chipped the ball over Meslier. Diego Llorente was able to get back and clear.
The hosts had another chance in the 11th minute when Nathaniel Clyne crossed the ball toward Wilfried Zaha, who was well-positioned, but his header lacked sufficient power and Meslier was able to gather.
Leeds had to scramble the ball away in the 15th when Conor Gallagher cleverly picked out Jordan Ayew, who passed toward the back post, but Mateta was not able to get there and slot home.
Leeds had to wait until the 27th for its first corner, and the ball fell to Liam Cooper but his effort was straight at Vicente Guaita.
Just before halftime, players from both sides squared up on a couple of occasions but it was calmed down.
After a lackluster opening 45 minutes, Leeds had an opportunity at the start of the second half when Stuart Dallas picked out Raphinha on the wing, and the Brazilian cut inside but took too long trying to take his shot, which deflected wide.
With both sides unable to showcase their quality in the final third, Dallas resorted to trying his luck from distance, but it was wide of Guaita’s goal.
Shortly afterward, Zaha had another chance to play in Mateta through the middle but his pass lacked pace and Leeds was able to clear. In the 66th, Zaha did pick out Mateta but his attempt blazed over the bar.
Meslier had to make an important save to deny Zaha’s curled effort and then easily held Gallagher’s shot with less than five minutes remaining.
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