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Leeds out of EPL’s bottom 3 after stoppage-time equalizer

May 15, 2022 GMT
Leeds United's Pascal Struijk celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Brighton and Hove, at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Sunday May 15, 2022. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
Leeds United's Pascal Struijk celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Brighton and Hove, at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Sunday May 15, 2022. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
Leeds United's Pascal Struijk celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Brighton and Hove, at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Sunday May 15, 2022. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
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Leeds United's Pascal Struijk celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Brighton and Hove, at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Sunday May 15, 2022. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
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Leeds United's Pascal Struijk celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Brighton and Hove, at Elland Road, Leeds, England, Sunday May 15, 2022. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

LEEDS, England (AP) — Leeds climbed out of the Premier League’s relegation zone in dramatic style Sunday after Pascal Struijk’s stoppage-time equalizer secured a 1-1 draw against Brighton.

Struijk, an 83rd-minute substitute, headed home at the far post in the second minute of added-on time to lift Leeds a point clear of Burnley after Danny Welbeck had given Albion a halftime lead at Elland Road.

Following Burnley’s 1-0 loss at Tottenham earlier Sunday, Struijk’s last-gasp goal ensured Leeds’ bid to retain its top-flight status will be decided on the final day of the season.

Leeds plays Brentford away that day. Burnley has two games remaining — at Aston Villa on Thursday and then at home to Newcastle next Sunday.

Leeds almost made a dream start when Joe Gelhardt’s effort following a corner was inadvertently blocked on the goal-line by the face of his captain Liam Cooper.

But Brighton wasted little time in showing its intentions as the south-coast team closes in on its highest-ever finish in English soccer.

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Moises Caicedo shot straight at goalkeeper Illan Meslier from close range and then Solly March dragged his attempt wide after finding himself one-on-one with Meslier.

Pascal Gross was next to test Meslier as the hosts repeatedly gave up the ball and Brighton far too easily exposed their frailties at the back.

The visitors’ opening goal duly arrived, courtesy of more lightweight Leeds defending, in the 21st minute and the home side only had itself to blame.

Club-record signing Rodrigo dithered in possession and Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma was left unchallenged as he came away with the ball and ventured into Leeds’ half.

Bissouma’s ball down the right channel appeared to pose little immediate danger, but Welbeck outpaced and outmuscled Diego Llorente before dinking an excellent finish over Meslier.

Leeds improved once falling behind and was denied an equalizer in the 42nd when Mateusz Klich’s shot was brilliantly saved at full stretch by Robert Sanchez.

Raphinha snatched at a half-chance early in the second period and Jack Harrison blazed over.

Leeds, roared on by another full house, swept forward and Brighton captain Lewis Dunk rescued his side when deflecting Rodrigo’s flick off-target from Raphinha’s cross.

Sanchez produced another flying save to keep out Raphinha’s thumping drive and the Brazilian then turned Rodrigo’s low cross just the wrong side of a post.

Klich was next to be thwarted by the inspired Sanchez and Gelhardt’s low shot went just wide as Leeds pressed for an equalizer.

With time running out, the home fans sensed it was not to be Leeds’ day and a section turned on the club’s hierarchy.

A chorus of “Sack the board” rang out as Welbeck missed a golden chance to seal victory for the Seagulls in the closing stages by heading Leandro Trossard’s cross wide.

But in the second minute of added time, Gelhardt brilliantly evaded several challenges in Brighton’s box and lifted the ball to the far post where Struijk rose to head home.

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