Leeds secure late point at Watford but miss chance to reclaim top spot

Leeds secured a late 2-2 draw at Watford on Good Friday but missed the chance to reclaim top spot in the Championship.

After Ipswich’s 1-0 win at Blackburn saw them move above Leicester and Leeds to the summit, Daniel Farke’s side needed a victory to reclaim their previous position of league leaders.

But they faced a well-drilled Watford – especially in the first half – and the hosts deservedly took the lead through Vakoun Bayo (30).

Leeds replied in style though as Crysencio Summerville curled home a stunning effort (37), but this was matched by Emmanuel Dennis (44) as Watford went into the break ahead.

Champ run-in 29/3

The visitors dominated the ball for much of the second half without creating too much. However, after being on the field for just 25 seconds, Mateo Joseph (85) secured a much-needed point for Leeds.

Ultimately, Farke’s side missed the chance to go top of the Championship – although remain unbeaten in 2024 – now a point behind Ipswich and one ahead of Leicester – who lost to Bristol City earlier on Friday. Watford are also unbeaten in their first two games under interim manager Tom Cleverley, and remain in 14th place.

How Leeds came from behind for a point

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Mateo Joseph equalised for Leeds to make it 2-2 against Watford, the second time they came from a goal down in the game

Watford began brightly in Tom Cleverley’s first match at Vicarage Road as interim manager. They won early set pieces and had a shout for a penalty – but Ethan Amapdu’s coming together with Yasser Aspirilla was not enough for a spot kick.

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Watford forward Vakoun Bayo smashes the ball into the back of the net as it rebounds off an initial shot from Emmanuel Dennis to open the scoring against Leeds United.

But Leeds did fire off a warning shot in the 16th minute. Crysencio Summerville skipped past two Watford players before striking from the left of the box, forcing a fine save from Daniel Bachmann.

The hosts made the breakthrough just after the half-hour mark. It was a great break from Watford, with Dennis’ initial strike parried by Illan Meslier. But Bayo was lurking on the right to hook the ball home.

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Crysencio Summerville equalised with an incredible curling effort.

And it took a moment of sheer quality to see Leeds level soon after. Glen Kamara slotted in Summerville down the left wing. He then darted past his marker, opening up some space before curling home superb effort into the top corner.

But anything Summerville could do, Dennis had a reply as he fired Watford back in front. He picked up the ball down the right wing before squaring up to Cooper. He found his space before fizzing a sublime effort around the Leeds defenders and past the goalkeeper.

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Emmanuel Dennis fired Watford back into the lead against Leeds with a wonderful strike

The second half was a far more even affair and both had early openings. Mattie Pollock nodded wide from a Watford corner, while Summerville showed his class again as a shot from close range was stopped by Bachmann.

The game soon began to meander, but Leeds certainly saw the better of the play. They were rewarded for their efforts as well late on in what was a scrappy equaliser. Jospeh’s first effort was blocked, but the ball was eventually turned home after a Jamal Lewis’ clearance ricocheted off the Leeds man.

It showed Leeds’ mettle to come from behind twice to secure a point, but may feel disappointed to have not taken the chance to go back top of the Championship heading into Easter Monday.

Deeney: I want Dennis to do more

Troy Deeney on Sky Sports:

“Watford tactically were fantastic. They’ll be really happy with how the shape was and everyone knew their roles and responsibilities really well.

“I think he [Cleverley] will be disappointed that they invited the pressure in the second half. But Dennis going off for two games in a row now and you’re questioning why. It’s killing the team a little bit and in the long-term, they’ll have to look at that.

“For Leeds, it’s about getting through this unscathed now. Keep grinding out any kind of win, any kind of draw – just don’t lose. The other guys aren’t going to let themselves down, they’re going to keep going so you have to match that pace.

“Hopefully one of them slips up then you can kick on and get promoted.”

Nigel Pearson on Sky Sports:

“In the context of what we’ve seen, they’ve come back to take something out of the game when they didn’t play very well.

“They would expect to go there and play better. They could have given themselves a much better chance to win it if they’d started with the intent they played with at the end.

“Fair play to Watford, in the first half, they were very positive, they used their pace and power well.

“It’s a decent point in the end for Leeds bearing in mind they’ve been well under par today.”

The managers

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Daniel Farke maintains that it was a positive 2-2 draw against Watford, leaving Leeds second in the Championship.

Leeds’ Daniel Farke to Sky Sports:

“Definitely a really good point for us. It was a difficult home away from home.

“We played them at the worst possible moment with a new manager, a bit of fresh air, a former team-mate, they have confidence, they feel a bit unleashed and they enjoy for the first time in a while the positivity in the home stadium.

“I didn’t want to speak about this too much before the game because I didn’t want to send the wrong message, but we had the worst possible international break.

“Three players came back injured… Junior Firpo played on Wednesday morning and it simply wasn’t possible for him [to start], Rutter had surgery 10 days ago… so we didn’t have one training session together with the lads.

“Until Wednesday, we only had six first-team players together. Then to play this game and show such a good second half, it definitely wasn’t our best football game but we showed mentality. I’m so happy and proud of the lads.

“The Championship is relentless… each game is a challenge. We cannot influence other results and we’re just focused on our game.”

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Tom Cleverley said he was really pleased with Watford’s performance in their 2-2 draw against title challengers Leeds, and thinks they could have taken all three points.

Watford’s Tom Cleverley to Sky Sports:

“I’m a little bit disappointed when we led twice. We had some chances to go 2-0 up at the time, but I’m pleased with how we performed.

“We carried out our game plan, we dominated and controlled for large parts. But they’re leaders for a reason, they have real quality in Summerville and players off their bench.

“It was a good game of football and I’m still pleased with a point… A draw might be a fair result.

“Dennis is nursing a small groin issue so we’ll have to be careful with his minutes over the busy period. He was explosive tonight, he was dynamic, he was dangerous, he competes, he’s got the full package. I was pleased with his performance tonight.

“Physically we’re in great shape and it’s a talented group of players. Now if we can show the fight and desire we showed tonight and concentration for 95 minutes, I think this team has got a high ceiling.”

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