Leeds 1-2 Brighton
27/4/13 - 3.00pm
Leo Ulloa powered home a late header to secure a dramatic victory at Leeds and seal Albion's place in the Championship play-offs.
Will Buckley handed the visitors an ideal start, scoring inside 10 minutes, before Rodolph Austin was dismissed for an off-the-ball elbow. Two more red cards and a penalty later - on a busy afternoon for referee Graham Scott - the game eventually reached its climax with Ulloa heading home to clinch a 2-1 victory under the Yorkshire sun.
Poyet rang the changes, with Liam Bridcutt and Wayne Bridge forced out through injury - Marcos Painter deputising at left-back, whilst Leo Ulloa returned to the Albion attack, as Dean Hammond took up the holding role in Bridcutt's absence. Bruno also came in for Inigo Calderon at right-back.
With a play-off place in their sights, the Seagulls undoubtedly started the brighter, and Andrea Orlandi nearly scored with the first attack of the game, as he slid in to stab Buckley's low cross onto the outside the post to sound out an early warning for the hosts.
And the Leeds back-line were again caught napping as Buckley raced onto Tom Lee's under-hit back-pass before calmly slotting into the corner of Paddy Kenny's net. It went from bad to worse for the Yorkshire side as moments later Austin was shown a straight red for wiping out Ashley Barnes with an elbow as the two chased a loose ball.
A spell of comfortable, if not purposeful possession for the Seagulls followed, as Bruno struck from distance but failed to find the target. But to their credit, Leeds rallied back well and were causing problems through the energetic Ross McCormack - the Scottish striker firing narrowly over after lapse of concentration from Gordon Greer.
El-Hadji Diouf then saw his low drive squirm through a sea of legs and wide as the hosts' pressure mounted. They nearly found a leveller on the stroke of half-time as McCormack saw his instinctive, hooked volley from 6 yards out drop agonisingly past Tomasz Kuszczak's left-hand post.
Orlandi took up a wing-back role after the break as Painter was forced off with injury. And the cultured ex-Swansea man was linking up well down the left, instigating a move that saw the ball fall to Ulloa in the box - but the Argentinian hitman could only drag his effort wide.
Albion then threatened on the break, as David Lopez put Buckley through on goal, but the winger skewed his left-footed effort wide with his unfavoured boot. Lopez then came close himself - Matt Upson teeing him up on the edge of the box, where the Spaniard struck a sweet half-volley to draw a smart stop from Kenny.
Despite the chances suggesting otherwise, 10-men Leeds were giving as good as they got in general play, and they found a way back into the game on 74 minutes as the lively Diouf was hauled down in the box by substitute Inigo Calderon - who was then given his marching orders. The Senegalese forward slotted home from the spot, but was then also shown red for an unsavoury gesture towards the visiting fans during his celebration.
The noise was ramped up by several notches as both sets of fans sought one more potential twist in their side's favour. Vicente somehow cleared the bar from 6 yards after he cut in onto his right foot, but the Seagulls' one-man advantage eventually told in the dying stages as Ulloa rose to thump home a close range header after Orlandi had supplied the cross from the left.
Ulloa's 9th league goal was met with wild celebrations in the away end as Albion secured the all-important win that means their season will be extended into Mid-may as they embark on their first play-off adventure since 2004.
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