Leeds ensures EPL survival with final-day win over Brentford
LONDON (AP) — Leeds survived in the Premier League for another season after Jack Harrison’s injury-time goal sealed a tense 2-1 win over nine-man Brentford on Sunday, with Burnley relegated instead.
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch and his team had a first-half goal by Joe Gelhardt ruled out for a narrow offside on video review but finally took the lead when Raphinha scored from the penalty spot in the 56th.
That followed a mistake from Brentford goalkeeper David Raya, who carelessly played the ball out to Raphinha and then brought him down with a desperate tackle.
Sergi Canos headed Brentford level in the 78th only to dent his team’s chances with a sending-off for two yellow cards in quick succession soon after. He was booked for taking his shirt off for celebrating the goal and then was shown a second yellow card and dismissed for a foul on Raphinha.
Brentford had to finish the game with nine players because Kristoffer Ajer had already been forced off through injury after manager Thomas Frank had used all of his substitutions.
Leeds was able to capitalize on the numerical advantage in stoppage time as Harrison’s drive from distance was deflected in to ensure survival.
Leeds could still have been relegated if Burnley had matched its result with a win at home to Newcastle, but Burnley lost the game 2-1.
“I believed that we were going to do this,” Marsch said. “There wasn’t one day I didn’t believe and that’s why I never talked about being in the (second-tier) Championship.”
The American added: “For me this business is about belief, and about exuding it as a leader, and the other part that I had as an advantage was the group of players that we have.”
Marsch received backing from Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani.
“Staying in the Premier League was our objective this year and we’ve managed to obtain our top-flight status, but this is not success and improvements are needed,” majority shareholder Radrizzani said in a statement.
“As a board we will work hard with Jesse Marsch this summer to improve the squad and find a way to deliver the kind of performances you (fans) all deserve. We believe that with time and a full pre-season, Jesse will be the man to take this club forward.”
Raphinha was among Leeds players who celebrated in the stands with the traveling fans who endured a nailbiting finish to a season which had few of the highs of last year’s run to ninth place under then-manager Marcelo Bielsa. Marsch arrived in February after Leeds’ form plummeted in its last few games with Bielsa and his all-action style.
“I don’t want them to chant my name, I want them to chant who we are, ” Marsch said. “This is not about any one person and it’s certainly not about me.
Brentford finished its first top-division season since 1947 in 13th place after a strong campaign for the West London club. The campaign was notable for giving Christian Eriksen a fresh start in club soccer after the midfielder collapsed while playing for Denmark at the European Championship last year.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports