Match Report: Leeds United 0-0 Sunderland

Leeds United’s automatic promotion hopes took a dent on Tuesday night, as they were frustrated by Sunderland in a goalless draw at Elland Road in the Sky Bet Championship.

Despite dominating possession, Daniel Farke’s side only managed to create one shot on target during the full 90, but were left infuriated with the refereeing of Tim Robinson as two stonewall penalties were waved away.

The point, though, means that the Black Cats’ minuscule play-off hopes are mathematically over, while Leicester’s defeat to Millwall means that the Whites gain a point on the Foxes, but could be removed from the top two with an Ipswich win on Wednesday night.

2X04P6J Sunderland interim manager Mike Dodds (left) with Luke O’Nien following the Sky Bet Championship match at Elland Road, Leeds. Picture date: Tuesday April 9, 2024.

Mike Dodds spoke about not “experimenting” with his side post-match on Saturday, but gave Timothee Pembele his first start for the club, replacing Leo Hjelde in one of two changes, with Callum Styles coming in for Adil Aouchiche.

It was a move part of a wider tactical change from Dodds, as Sunderland moved to a back-five in attempt to nullify the attacking threat of Farke’s side, and it worked throughout.

The home side had 81% possession in the opening half-hour of the contest, and thought that they should have had a penalty when Crysensio Summerville’s effort seemed to be diverted wide of the right post by an outstretched elbow of Dan Ballard; the referee, though, waved any claims away.

Despite being content within their defensive structure, the threat of former Leeds winger, Jack Clarke, could not be denied, and just before the interval, he had two chances to give the Black Cats the lead on his first return to Elland Road.

First, his mazy run led to a low shot being blocked by Illan Meslier, before the Leeds ‘keeper produced a simple save to deny his right-footed effort from just outside of the area.

2X04M0Y Sunderland’s Luke O’Nien challenges for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Elland Road, Leeds. Picture date: Tuesday April 9, 2024.

Leeds, though, continued to see more of the openings in the second half, and as news of Millwall’s goal against Leicester began filtering through, the Elland Road crowd sought to create an extra intensity for Farke’s side.

Summerville’s free-kick was whipped just into the side-netting, before both Georginio Rutter and Ethan Ampadu had long-range efforts dragged wide of the target.

The big talking point of the game, however, came in the 75th minute, as Luke O’Nien appeared to handle the ball before Joe Rodon was able to connect to a Leeds corner, but again, Robinson gave nothing, much to the fury of the home support.

Substitute Wilfred Gnonto had a late opportunity to clinch a massive three points for the home side, but his shot took a deflection off the head of O’Nien and looped over the bar.

In the remaining stages, Dodds’ side held on for a hard-earned point, whilst Leeds were left to rue missed chances and Robinson’s officiating, as they missed an opportunity to make up more ground on the Foxes.