Wolves 2-3 Leeds: Breathless, bruising, brilliant – controversy and drama in pulsating Molineux game

Leeds celebrate

Five players off injured in less than an hour, 22 minutes added on, a controversial red card, a stunning comeback and a last-minute winner.

Leeds’ Premier League trip to Wolves on Friday had it all.

It was a bruising, breathless and brilliant game, which seemed all but certain to be won by Wolves when they took a 2-0 lead in the 11th minute of first-half injury time.

But Leeds, who had lost four players to injury by the 55th minute, including the only recently returned Patrick Bamford, had other ideas.

‘These decisions are killing teams’

Ilan Meslier and Raul Jimenez lie injured on the pitch

The key moment came five minutes after half-time when the already booked Raul Jimenez raced forward to try to reach a through ball and was involved in what seemed a 50-50 collision with Leeds keeper Illan Meslier.

Meslier limped off but he was not on his own – when Jimenez got up a couple of minutes later after receiving treatment, he was shown a second yellow card by referee Kevin Friend.

“Everyone saw what happened and now they have the chance to watch on TV,” Wolves boss Bruno Lage told BBC Sport.

“It’s a body contact – Raul tried to win the ball. Bad decision [from the referee] – and he continued with the opinion he did a good decision

“In the 45 minutes I think we were the better team. We were a much better team than our opponents. I am very proud of my players.”

Wolves captain Conor Coady told Sky Sports: “We should still stay in the game but it is not a red card. I could go mad and kick off but for me it’s not red. It’s a fair challenge – there was nowhere else it could go. These decisions are killing teams.

“I thought from the first minute he threw out yellows early on and I thought he lost the game. We don’t feel like we were fairly treated.

“We look at ourselves first and foremost because we can defend better. But other people have to look at themselves as well.

“It’s a massive factor in what has happened.”

When Jesse Marsch was appointed Leeds boss on 28 February to replace the popular Marcelo Bielsa, the Whites had lost four games in a row by an aggregate scoreline of 17-2 and were only heading one way – towards the bottom three.

Two more defeats followed and a six-game losing run meant the American manager faced a daunting challenge.

But the victory over Norwich and 3-2 success at Wolves mean they now find themselves seven points clear of the bottom three. Not safe yet perhaps, but certainly with breathing space.

Their second-half display at Molineux – goals from Jack Harrison, Rodrigo and injury-time match-winner Luke Ayling – prompted delirious scenes at the end.

“We were down but we came out in the second half and showed a bit of character – the man getting sent off is a massive game-changer and the boys dug in,” Ayling told Sky Sports. “It’s a massive three points. The boys are buzzing.

“As soon as the red card happened it gave us a right boost and then we scored pretty soon after. Then we got the second but after that we went a bit flat and tried to go a bit too long too quickly. But we got the goal in the end – it was just head over it and smash it as fast as I can.

“I tried to do the Robbie Keane celebration but I couldn’t land the cartwheel, which was a bit disappointing. I’ll have to work on that!”

Marsch’s side have now won their past two games thanks to injury-time winners, meaning the manager can look forward to a two-week international break with renewed optimism.

“We have an incredible group of young men in this team,” he said. “I have been impressed from day one with the quality at this club and I am certainly very proud of what we have achieved so far.

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