Leeds United’s summer signing Junior Firpo endured a nightmare first half during the goalless draw with Brighton at the Amex.
The 25-year-old returned to Marcelo Bielsa’s starting lineup after coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Spurs. But the £13m man simply could not handle opponent Tariq Lamptey before being hauled off at half-time.
The tone for the match seemed to be set just four minutes in as Lamptey got in behind Firpo, before putting a dangerous ball into the box. Polish midfielder Jakub Moder got on the end of it but could not keep his first-time volley down.
Brighton number nine Neal Maupay had a glorious chance to put his team ahead four minutes later. Another Lamptey cross found the Frenchman at the back post. He should have converted with his left foot but managed to shin the ball over the bar.
Belgium international Leandro Trossard then hit the woodwork for the home side. He unleashed a venomous strike, which was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Illan Meslier.
Moder hit the post again not long afterwards, although this time from a very tight angle. It was all Brighton, and Maupay was gifted another good opportunity with 37 minutes gone.
Firpo had no response to Lamptey’s pace and was left behind as the speedster marauded down the right flank once again. Maupay got the wrong side of his marker but barely connected with the cross, despite having the goal at his mercy.
5 – Tariq Lamptey has created five chances for Brighton in the first half versus Leeds, the most he's ever created in a single Premier League match. Energetic.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 27, 2021
Bielsa had to make changes at the break and it was no surprise when Firpo failed to appear for the second half. Kalvin Phillips was also taken off, as Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton came on in their place.
The Yorkshire outfit showed signs of improvement as Stuart Dallas sent Jack Harrison off down the left. He played in Rodrigo, whose shot was blazed over. But it was finally a sign of promise for Leeds.
Like Firpo, Brighton’s Maupay was substituted after looking low on confidence all night. 28-year-old Jurgen Locadia replaced him as the Seagulls’ centre-forward.
Lamptey was also taken off, receiving a rapture of applause from the Brighton faithful. Solly March came on and almost scored the opener with his first contribution.
He cut inside and fired a shot at goal, which deflected off Struijk. Meslier was forced to into action and just managed to tip it over the bar.
Leeds’ best chances came shortly after the 80th minute. Adam Forshaw played in Tyler Roberts, who forced a good stop from Robert Sanchez.
Roberts was at it again moments later, seeing a volley kept out by the Spaniard.
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It was a similar theme at the other end of the pitch, as March sent a low drive towards the Leeds goal. Meslier got lucky as the ball hit the post and dropped into his arms.
Neither side managed to break the deadlock in the final minutes as the spoils were shared on the south coast.
Leeds’ next game is a home clash against Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening. Brighton, meanwhile, travel to West Ham on Wednesday at 19:30.
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