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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace denied three points by WORLD-CLASS Illan Meslier in 0-0 draw against Leeds

Leeds United’s budding goalkeeper Illan Meslier denied Crystal Palace the three points with two crucial late blocks with his foot from Wilfried Zaha efforts in a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace were the better side either side of half-time and went for it but Leeds stubbornly raised their defensive barricades to come away with what could prove to be a vital point come the end of the season in their survival battle with Everton and Burnley.

Palace, whose confidence looked shot in their 1-0 loss at Newcastle, were the more dangerous side but lacked killer instinct in front of goal.

Leeds were passive, too passive but what they lost in creativity under Jesse Marsch’s successor Marcello Bielsa they won in defensive solidity.

Who knows how this game would have panned out with the famous Argentine still in the dugout? Their attack-minded style of play may have helped the West Yorkshire club to score one goal or two but most likely they would have been on the receiving end of a trashing if they had left Zaha and co. space to exploit in behind.

The Palace fans were probably were not glad it was all over when the referee blew the final whistle as there is a serious change they would have come out on top with a few more minutes to play.

In the opening minutes, Jean-Philippe Mateta steered wide from close range after Jordan Ayew rolled the ball across the six-yard box following a slick team move initiated by Conor Gallagher. But Diego Llorente got a slight touch to it with a sliding tackle, enough to take the ball away from the Frenchman who was ready to stab home the opener.

Wilfried Zaha, in a good position, then scuffed a header following before the extremely passive Yorkshire outfit mustered a first attempt on target through Liam Cooper’s weak header on 27 minutes.

But this uneventful affair between Crystal Palace and Leeds United genuinely burst into life after a cheeky nutmeg by Raphinha on Joel Ward at the end of the first-half.

It looks as if the Palace legend’s raw nerve was touched. And he let the Brazilian winger know in no uncertain terms with two ferocious headers towards the end of the opening 45 minutes.

The temperatures reached boiling point after a cynical foul from Daniel James on the Palace legend in half two and the pair had to be separated by a couple of teammates.

The best chance of the game came after the hour-mark when Thornton Heath’s local boy Zaha skipped past a feeble challenge from Luke Ayling drilling a low cross across the box for Mateta. But the ex-Mainz striker fired over from close range. Minutes later Zaha went for it on his own when collecting the ball on the byline and cut inside before firing a shot through two Leeds defenders but straight at Meslier.

Leeds all of a sudden struggled to deal with the rotation of Palace’s movements.

Gallagher came close with a volley from distance before the ex-Lorient goalie Meslier twice blocked Zaha from close range in David De Gea-esque style with his outstretched right foot.

Palace tried hard to turn one point into three but Leeds hung on for a vital point that could be the one to send either Everton or Burnley down by the end of the season.


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