Ezgjan Alioski's shambolic first half for Leeds in Fulham win
Ezgjan Alisoki had an evening to forget at Craven Cottage as Leeds United defeated Fulham 2-1 on Friday evening.
Goals from Patrick Bamford and Raphinha were enough to take three points back to Elland Road. It was Leeds’ 12th win of the season, and more or less confirms safety for another season with a 13-point gap over the drop.
It was a good performance from Marcelo Bielsa’s men. Bamford looked to prove Gareth Southgate wrong with his England snub, whilst Stuart Dallas ran his sock off in the middle.
The same can’t be said for Alioski, however. He had another poor showing at left-back for the Whites, Bielsa even lost his temper in the end.
Despite Leeds dominating the opening phase of the game, Alisoki did very little to impact the game in a positive manner. In fact, he almost cost his side at the other end of a couple of occasions.
With 17 minutes played, he attempted a bizarre volleyed pass back towards Mesliar, but it fell short of the box. Luckily, Diego Llorente was able to deal with it, but he gave the left-back an earful for his recklessness.
It didn’t stop there. Fulham barely got out of their own end in the opening 25 minutes, but on the one occasion they did, Alioski gave away a silly foul deep in Leeds half. He lunged at Ivan Cavalario and was at least a second late, fortunate not to go in the book.
From the resulting set play, the hosts won a corner. Josh Maja was denied by a brilliant save from Meslier, getting his left-back out of trouble.
After this scare, the Whites continued to control the game. Jack Harrison was on a run of six games and assists without a goal, and was working tirelessly down the left.
Alioski barely made a run beyond him in the first half, despite Leeds pressing Fulham high. Luke Ayling, on the other flank, was bombing forward and creating chances, even having one ruled out.
Alioski nearly cost his side again on 31 minutes. A poor crossfield attempt was intercepted by Ademola Lookman, who fed Antonee Robinson down the left. Luckily, the American fluffed his lines and scuffed behind for a goal kick. Two huge chances for the host’s thanks to Alisoki blunders.
At this point, Bielsa has seen enough. Rarely do we see the boss pull an individual for a one-on-one coaching session on the side of the pitch. But that’s exactly what he did, furiously getting his point across to the Macedonian in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Despite Leeds taking three points, he wasn’t much better as the game went on. Alisoki lost possession 13 times, seven in his own half, the most he’s managed this season [WyScout].
He was very wasteful in possession, completing just 62% of his passes, and 33% of long balls. It simply isn’t good enough in the Premier League.
In other Leeds United news, Ashley Williams says Bamford is deserving of an England call-up.