Leeds United gave their hopes of Premier League survival a huge boost after coming from behind to snatch a thrilling 3-2 win at 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers with a goal from Luke Ayling on Friday.
Wolves dominated the first half and led 2-0 after goals from Jonny Otto and Trincao had put them in control, with Leeds losing leading striker Patrick Bamford early on through injury.
However, the match turned on its head after Wolves’ Mexican forward Raul Jimenez was sent off eight minutes into the second half after earning a second yellow card for colliding with Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, who went off injured.
Leeds made the numerical advantage count, with two goals in the space of four minutes from Jack Harrison and Rodrigo which dragged the away side level.
The drama was not over though as in stoppage time Ayling popped up with the winner to spark wild celebrations among the Leeds players and supporters.
The visitors dug in and survived late pressure to earn a crucial victory to pull seven points clear of the relegation zone, albeit having played more games than all of the teams below them. The defeat leaves Wolves eighth on 46 points.
Leeds had secured a stoppage-time home victory over Norwich City in their previous match, but winning at Molineux looked a world away after their below-par first-half performance.
However, following Jimenez’s second dismissal of the season, Leeds fought back to take the points. It was the first time they had ever recovered from being two or more goals down at halftime to win a Premier League game.
“I was focused at halftime with helping the group with a few tactical changes then it was about making sure that our minds were straight and that we were ready to do what it takes,” Leeds coach Jesse Marsch told Sky Sports.
“The red card obviously helped a lot, but we still had to stick together and push,” added the American who took over from the sacked Marcelo Bielsa at the end of last month.
“It’s been an intense year for the group. I am new in this so for me it is about helping them understand how to deal with what has gone and then how to look forward and to get even better.”
Wolves coach Bruno Lage was not happy with the decision to send off Jimenez, feeling the second yellow card was harsh.
“Everyone saw what happened and now they have the chance to watch on TV,” Lage told the BBC. “It’s a body contact, Raul tried to win the ball. Bad decision – and he (referee Kevin Friend) continued with the opinion he made a good decision.
“In the 45 minutes I think we were the better team. We were a much better team than our opponents. I am very proud of my players.”