A point each at St James' Park.
Newcastle United 0
Leeds United 0
Newcastle: Pope (GK), Trippier (C), Botman, Schar, Joelinton, Wood (Wilson 64’), Almiron (Murphy 84’), Willock (Saint-Maximin 64’), Burn, Longstaff, Guimaraes. Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Lascelles, Ritchie, Lewis, Manquillo, Anderson.
Leeds: Meslier (GK), Ayling (Kristensen 70’), Forshaw (Roca 45’), Koch, Cooper (C), Aaronson, Harrison (Klich 64’), Adams, Rodrigo (Gelhardt 82’), Struijk, Gnonto (Summerville 70’). Subs not used: Robles (GK), Firpo, Llorente, Greenwood.
Venue: St James’ Park
Referee: Simon Hooper
Booked: Trippier, Guimaraes, Wilson (Newcastle) Ayling, Meslier, Struijk, Roca, Gnonto (Leeds)
Leeds United came away with a hard-fought point from this Premier League clash against Newcastle United.
For the final time in the calendar year of 2022, the match got underway at St James’ Park after both teams - along with the 52,211 in the stands - had paid tribute to footballing legend Pele, who recently passed away.
Jesse Marsch had opted to make three changes from the team that started in the recent defeat to champions Manchester City at Elland Road. Luke Ayling, Tyler Adams and Jack Harrison were all back in the starting line-up.
The first real note of the half came the way of the visitors, after breaking forward quickly. Willy Gnonto had the opportunity after creating space, but fired over the bar. In an open match early on, it was former Leeds forward Chris Wood with the next effort but he also shot behind.
Illan Meslier was called into action inside the opening 10 minutes from Brazilian international Joelinton. He was well-placed to strike at goal but saw the ‘keeper deny him.
There was further work for the Leeds number one to do, and he stood tall, claiming plenty of cross field passes into the box as well as being pelted with long-balls off set-plays from the home side.
The best chance for Marsch’s side came the way of Brenden Aaronson. After Rodrigo had played him a clever pass, the USA international worked his way into the box but saw his strike at goal well blocked.
Liam Cooper, along with the returning Adams were offering plenty of defensive support to Meslier’s goal. The captain headed, cleared and dealt with a number of tough situations which would then be regularly repeated throughout the match.
In treacherous conditions at St James’, the teams went in level at the interval but it wasn’t through the lack of trying at either end.
HALF TIME: Newcastle United 0-0 Leeds United
Leeds made a change at the break. After a hard-working and battling first 45 minutes, Adam Forshaw was replaced by Marc Roca at the heart of the midfield as the fight for points continued.
The second half in large parts mirrored what the first had been. Two teams looking to create opportunities but being limited by defences that were standing firm. Newcastle were seeing more of the ball early on, but they were resorting to long-balls into the box.
Former Whites striker, Wood had two great opportunities early on in the half. Meslier was equal to the first and the second required no action, going high over the bar.
Then it was Nick Pope’s turn to be called upon. The home stopper had been alert throughout the game but he had been largely untested.
It was Rodrigo who forced a save with a clever effort, cutting in from the wing and curling towards the top corner, only to see his strike pushed wide of the goal at full-stretch.
By this point in the match, the defensive line of Ayling, Cooper, Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk had been monumental in stopping the potent Magpies frontline. Supported by the midfield as well, the Whites looked to hold firm as the game approached its conclusion.
Both teams had made changes looking to impact on the match and they were making a difference with their fresh legs, in what was still a tough game to play in under the torrential rain.
A well-contested clash entered stoppage time and when the full-time whistle was blown for the final time in 2022, it confirmed a valuable point on the road for Marsch’s side who had not only weathered pressure throughout, but also created chances of their own.
Next up and in the first match of 2023, Leeds will take on West Ham United at Elland Road.
FULL TIME: Newcastle United 0-0 Leeds United