It was one of the longest halves in Jesse Marsch’s career, both literally and figuratively. The new Leeds United coach had to replace three of his starters with first-half injuries and in the 11th minute of added time Wolverhampton scored a second goal that seemingly consigned the American to a third defeat in four matches since taking the job.
But football’s a funny game sometimes, and as much of a cliché as it is to say, Friday’s match at the Molineaux Stadium was a tale of two halves. Wolves’ Mexican striker Raúl Jiménez was sent off for a second yellow card in the 53rd minute, and Leeds pounced on the man advantage, rallying for a 3-2 win on Friday, scoring a stoppage-time winner for the second straight week.
After the match, Marsch and his players celebrated with the visiting fans, who may have doubted at halftime but by fulltime were fully behind their American manager.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 18, 2022
The second straight win moved Leeds seven points ahead of 18th-place Watford and gave the American manager a little more breathing room in his quest to save the struggling side from relegation. Wolves, meanwhile, suffered a blow to their European hopes, missing a chance to move up to sixth and remaining four points back of fifth-place Manchester United.
It was an unlikely story with two North Americans at the center of it all less than a week before Mexico and the U.S. face off in a vital World Cup qualifier.
Wolves vs Leeds Highlights
When Marsch came back from halftime, he was seen staring at his watch, perhaps wondering how much time he had left to turn a struggling club around. A late winner over Norwich last weekend stopped the bleeding after two straight losses to start his tenure, but down two on the road looked like too much for Leeds to overcome. Add in three first-half injuries plus another in the second half, and everything seemed to be going against the American manager. (New rules allowed Leeds an additional substitution because one of the injuries was a potential concussion.)
Fortunately for the American, a Mexican helped turn the game on its head. Jiménez’s red card for a second yellow completely changed the game, allowing Leeds a foothold to crawl back into the match, albeit at the cost of an injury to starting keeper Illan Meslier. Jack Harrison pulled one back in the 63rd minute before Rodrigo equalized three minutes later.
Wolves settled down after the equalizer and even had some chances to retake the lead, but in the first minute of eight stoppage-time minutes, Luke Ayling fired home a dramatic winner.
Backup goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson still had to come up with a few big saves in the dying moments, but the three points were secured.
In the end, after 112 minutes thanks to lengthy stoppage times in both halves, Leeds celebrated a massive victory.
Full-Match Wolves vs Leeds Highlights
After a decent performance in a 1-0 loss to Leicester City, things didn’t look great for Marsch when Leeds was smashed by Aston Villa 3-0 the following week. But back-to-back wins have players, coaches and fans alike dreaming of staving off relegation.
It’s a true Ted Lasso storyline.