A debut goal from Marco Djuricin was not enough to give Brentford victory against Leeds United at Elland Road. The Austrian striker, who joined The Bees late last month, scored in the first half as Brentford looked set to take all three points. But Leeds levelled late on to earn a share of the spoils.
Both teams will probably feel they could have won the game. The home side had the territorial advantage early on but Brentford had chances in the first 70 minutes to make the game safe, hitting the post twice. However, Leeds finished strongly and may have snatched the win at the end of a pulsating second half.
Brentford could have been ahead inside a minute when Lasse Vibe found Djuricin in the inside right channel and the cross reached Konstantin Kerschbaumer, who had started the move, but his bobbled shot from ten yards was cleared off the line. Alan Judge picked up the loose ball and cut inside but his curling shot went over the bar.
Despite Brentford’s bright start, Leeds arguably had the better of the first quarter of the match. They started in energetic fashion and pressed Brentford back, making it hard for The Bees to play out from the back. The visitors were comfortable in possession but Leeds had the territorial advantage. They also had some early sights of goal.
David Button got down well to save from Lewis Cook and Stuart Dallas saw a shot blocked after he burst in to the box. Former Brentford man Dallas was used often by Leeds, especially as there was an early booking for Maxime Colin, and Charlie Taylor offered support from left back. But Colin and Vibe dealt with the threat well and chances were limited.
Dallas curled an effort over the bar for the hosts but by the midway point of the half Brentford were in the ascendency. Alan McCormack and Toumani Diagouraga were providing a solid platform in midfield and Judge was the attacking spark on the left. Djuricin was happy to play on the shoulder of the home central defenders and almost made Sol Bamba pay for a slip when he nipped in but Liam Cooper got across to make a recovery tackle. Judge went close again soon after when he got on to a long Djuricin pass and cut inside but he lashed a shot narrowly over from 18 yards.
As the half hour mark approached Brentford appeared to be in control and, despite Leeds having a good early spell, could claim to have had the better chances. And when the next one came, they took it emphatically. Judge was the architect, picking up a ball forward and skipping past the hapless Bamba, he delayed his pass until Djuricin was ready and the striker then cut inside Cooper and finished with aplomb.
That silenced a home crowd that had been very supportive of their team until that point. Brentford were happy to dominate possession, keep the ball and force Leeds to chase. McCormack and Diagouraga gave a platform for those in front to play and Cook and Alex Mowatt, influential early on, drifted out of the game.
The Bees got to half time with few alarms and with James Tarkowski also going close from an early set piece, albeit when in an offside position, were deserving of their lead. Leeds made a change at the break with a second striker – Mirco Antenucci – coming on and Luke Murphy arrived to bolster the midfield soon after. The switch to 4-4-2 gave Leeds more attacking threat but Brentford had an extra man in midfield and the hosts had to go longer to get results. They tried to stretch The Bees and had some success, particularly with Dallas on the left.
The former Brentford man almost set up Antenucci with a jinking run but Button gathered and Sam Byram fired over soon after. Another Antenucci effort, again set up by Dallas, was blocked soon after.
Despite Leeds again starting well, Brentford could have had the game sewn up by the hour mark. They were within a whisker of scoring when, following a short corner, Judge whipped a ball to the far post that Jake Bidwell couldn’t reach before it bounced off the woodwork and away to safety. From the next corner a Djuricin effort was blocked and Kerschbaumer went close soon after when he saw a shot blocked by Bamba.
A Judge free kick flew across the face of goal and when Marco Silvestri inexplicably sent the goal kick to Vibe, his cross found Djuricin and the Austrian striker lifted an effort against the post. Judge had a shot blocked after more good work by Vibe and then fired over before Kerschbaumer missed the target with a header.
It took Leeds a while to get used to their new shape but they were still in the game and started to press forward. Chris Wood headed over and Murphy fired wide before Byram blasted off target. Wood went closest of all with a deflected effort that hit the post while at the other end Vibe fired narrowly over following a good run.
Just when it looked as if Brentford may have weathered the storm, Leeds struck. Ryan Woods, minutes in to his debut, was robbed in midfield, Wood fed Antenucci and the Italian striker cut back on to his left foot before curling shot past the outstretched arm of Button and in to the net.
That set up a grandstand finish and Philipp Hofmann, who limped off soon after coming on, almost turned a Tarkowski nod down home from a Judge corner. Byram missed the target twice from distance for Leeds and Button saved from Murphy and Taylor.
It was end-to-end in the final stages with both teams looking for the winner. Vibe curled a shot wide after some exceptional work on the right while Wood had a shot blocked and Murphy fired wide. Button saved from Antenucci, redeeming himself after a poor kick had presented the chance, and Judge fired just wide of the far post.
Tempers were rising in the later stages both in the dugouts and on the pitch but neither team could find a breakthrough and both had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw
Leeds United: Silvestri; Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor; Adeyemi (sub Murphy 57 mins); Byram, Cook, Mowatt (sub Antenucci h/t), Dallas; Wood
Subs (not used): Turnbull, Wootton, Bellusci, Doukara, Phillips
Bookings: Dallas (45 mins), Antenucci (77 mins)
Brentford: Button; Colin (sub Woods 74 mins), Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; McCormack, Diagouraga; Vibe, Kerschbaumer, Judge; Djuricin (sub Hofmann 63 mins (sub Canós 85 mins))
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Barbet, Udumaga
Bookings: Colin (5 mins), Diagouraga (82 mins) (second of season), Judge (85 mins)