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Pascal Struijk late goal against Brighton earns Leeds vital draw in safety scrap

Pascal Struijk celebrates Leeds’ equaliser (Danny Lawson/PA)
Pascal Struijk celebrates Leeds’ equaliser (Danny Lawson/PA)

Pascal Struijk headed a stoppage-time equaliser as Leeds snatched a vital point in their fight for Premier League survival with a 1-1 draw against Brighton.

Late substitute Struijk headed home at the far post in the second minute of added time to lift Leeds out of the bottom three after Danny Welbeck had given Albion a half-time lead at Elland Road.

Following relegation rivals Burnley’s defeat at Tottenham earlier on Sunday, Struijk’s last-gasp leveller ensured Leeds’ bid to retain their top-flight status will be decided on the final day of the season.

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 skipper Liam Cooper.

But Brighton wasted little time in showing their intentions as they close in on their highest-ever finish in English football by creating two big chances in quick succession.

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

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 hosts only had themselves to blame.

Club-record signing Rodrigo – not for the first time – 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 out-paced and out-muscled Diego Llorente before dinking an excellent finish over Meslier.

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

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

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

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

Klich was next to be thwarted by the inspired Sanchez and Gelhardt’s low shot fizzed inches wide as Leeds pressed for an equaliser.

With time running out, the home fans sensed it was not to be their 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 evaded several challenges in Brighton’s box and crossed to the far post where Struijk rose to head home a vital equaliser.

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