Leeds United gained a deserved victory over Crystal Palace to move into the top half of the Premier League table.
The hosts only needed three minutes before they went ahead as Jack Harrison’s strike from the edge of the penalty area took a big deflection off Gary Cahill and looped past Vicente Guaita.
Patrick Bamford, Raphinha and Pascal Struijk all had opportunities to double Leeds’ advantage in the first half.
But Bamford killed the game off early in the second half with a tap-in for his 100th goal in club football after Guaita had parried Raphinha’s shot.
Harrison nearly grabbed his second and Leeds’ third late on but saw his effort rebound off the crossbar.
Eberechi Eze wasted a rare chance for the visitors when he shot over when well placed on a disappointing night for the Eagles.
The victory moves Leeds up from 11th and above Arsenal to 10th, while Palace, who themselves would have gone into the top half with a win, remain 13th.
Leeds continue to impress as Bamford reaches a century
Leeds won the Championship last season as they ended a run of 16 seasons outside the top flight and while the two teams that came up with them – West Brom and Fulham – have struggled and are in the bottom three, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have thrived.
This was their 10th league win of the season and Leeds are aiming for their first top-10 finish in English football since they came fifth and qualified for the Uefa Cup in 2001-02.
It was one of their most straightforward outings of the campaign and they never looked like squandering the lead given to them by Harrison’s early goal.
Bamford, who failed to score in a nine-game loan spell with the Eagles in 2015-16, had a header saved by Guaita and then fired harmlessly over with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The excellent, skilful Raphinha curled a free-kick over the top and then had a shot on the turn blocked by a desperate Cahill challenge as Leeds continued to create chances.
Struijk missed two good headed opportunities but those misses did not prove costly as Bamford followed up after Raphinha’s shot was parried to score his 12th Premier League goal of the season.
That took the 27-year-old to a century of career goals, including 21 on loan at MK Dons, eight on loan with Derby, 33 with Middlesbrough and 38 with his current side.
Leeds could have stretched their winning margin but Guaita, Palace’s best player, did well to get down quickly to push a low shot from Stuart Dallas wide, and Harrison hit the woodwork.
The only downside for Leeds was an injury to England international Kalvin Phillips, who went off late in the second half with what looked to be a calf injury.
Zaha absence hurts poor Palace
Palace were without top goalscorer Wilfried Zaha after the Ivory Coast winger injured a hamstring in the 2-1 win at Newcastle on Tuesday and Roy Hodgson’s side desperately missed their talisman.
This defeat means Palace have now lost 17 of the past 19 games in which Zaha has not played, including all four Premier League matches without him this season.
The injury-hit Londoners, who could only name six substitutes, handed a debut to French striker Jean-Philippe Mateta, who joined the club on loan from Bundesliga outfit Mainz in January.
But Mateta’s first involvement saw a clearance bounce off him in the build-up to Leeds’ opening goal.
The Eagles had won their past two matches but were outplayed in the first half, with only 33% of possession, one shot on target and one corner.
Roy Hodgson brought on Andros Townsend for Patrick van Aanholt at half-time in an attempt to get back in the game, but they found themselves two goals behind six minutes later.
Michy Batshuayi replaced the ineffective Mateta after 65 minutes and set up Eze, who blazed well over.
Hodgson also introduced another striker, Christian Benteke, and he had an effort saved by Illan Meslier as Palace left Elland Road empty-handed.
Another blank for Palace on the road – the stats
- Leeds have won three of their past four Premier League games (lost one), as many victories as they enjoyed in their eight before that (lost five).
- Crystal Palace have failed to score in seven away games in the Premier League this season, the joint-most of any side (level with Burnley).
- Leeds scored with the first shot of the game (by either side) for the third time in the Premier League this season, with no side doing this more in 2020-21.
- In a mirror image, Crystal Palace conceded from the first attempt of the game (by either side) for the third time in the Premier League this season, with no side doing this more in 2020-21.
- Jack Harrison’s opener (2 minutes 35 seconds) was Leeds’ fastest Premier League goal since Steve Caldwell netted against Blackburn Rovers back in April 2004 (second minute).
- Leeds midfielder Jack Harrison has netted three goals in his past four league games, as many as he managed in his previous 24 for the club.
- Jean-Philippe Mateta became the 175th player to play for Crystal Palace in the Premier League and the 214th Frenchman to appear in the competition overall (second only to English players, 1,593).
- Leeds striker Patrick Bamford became the first player to score in three Premier League games in a season against teams he previously played for in the competition (versus Crystal Palace x2 and Burnley) since Romelu Lukaku in 2017-18 (vs Everton, West Brom and Chelsea for Manchester United).
- Kalvin Phillips made his 200th appearance in all competitions for Leeds this evening, becoming the third player to do so this season for the club (after Cooper & Dallas); this is the first season to see three players reach this milestone for Leeds since 2000-01 (Nigel Martyn, Lucas Radebe and Lee Bowyer).
Leeds play at Arsenal on Sunday (16:30 GMT) after Crystal Palace host Burnley on Saturday (15:00 GMT).
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- 23PhillipsSubstituted forShackletonat 88′minutes
- 17Hélder Costa
- 24CahillBooked at 37mins
- 4MilivojevicBooked at 76mins
- 3van AanholtSubstituted forTownsendat 45′minutes
- 14MatetaSubstituted forBatshuayiat 65′minutes
- 9J AyewSubstituted forBentekeat 76′minutes
- Andre Marriner
Match ends, Leeds United 2, Crystal Palace 0.
Second Half ends, Leeds United 2, Crystal Palace 0.
Attempt saved. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross.
Substitution, Leeds United. Jamie Shackleton replaces Kalvin Phillips because of an injury.
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace).
Jack Harrison (Leeds United) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the centre of the box.
Attempt missed. Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Eberechi Eze with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Ezgjan Alioski.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Christian Benteke.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Tyrick Mitchell.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Christian Benteke replaces Jordan Ayew.
Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Liam Cooper (Leeds United) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Kalvin Phillips with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Vicente Guaita.
Attempt saved. Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Harrison.
Attempt saved. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Eberechi Eze.
Foul by Luke Ayling (Leeds United).