Villa’s performance Thursday night was all over the map. The claret and blue were superb in the opening minutes, lackluster for long stretches of time, and energized in the final moments, but Steve Bruce will be satisfied with the 1-1 draw his side came away with.
Villa should have been ahead within the opening minute after a sloppy back pass presented Jonathan Kodjia with a clear sight of goal. The Ivorian, however, let the ball run across his body before striking it towards goal, giving Leeds defender Pontus Jansson enough time to recover and block Kodjia’s effort. Leeds continued to be sloppy in defense throughout the opening 15 minutes, but persistent Villa pressure was not rewarded with a goal. Villa came the closest to opening the scoring in the first half after James Chester sent a looping header towards Rob Green’s top corner but his effort couldn’t find its way inside the far post.
Jack Grealish exited just after halftime with a dead leg and was replaced by Ross McCormack, but Leeds were ahead moments later as Pontus Jansson directed a header towards goal off a corner which Mark Bunn was unable to prevent from crossing the goal line. Leeds then settled in to defend their lead, but almost doubled their advantage as the crossbar denied Jansson a second goal only a few minutes later. Albert Adomah and Rudy Gestede entered the game for Jordan Ayew and Mile Jedinak just before the 80th minute and changed the complexion of the game completely. Villa were soon applying pressure on the Leeds defense, which eventually cracked as a ball in the box was handled and Jonathan Kodjia cooly dispatched the spot kick past Rob Green.
After Villa equalized, the match turned into an end-to-end affair. Both sides had numerous chances in the closing moments to snatch all three points. Leeds’ best opportunity came after Jordan Amavi slipped in defense and presented Hadi Sacko through on goal, but Amavi recovered to deflect Sacko’s shot onto the crossbar. At the other end, Jonathan Kodjia unleashed a ferocious volley on goal, but Rob Green came off his line smartly to deny Villa’s star man a winning goal.
Overall, this turned into a lively affair at Villa Park but a draw was likely the fair result.