With 62 minutes gone, Leeds trailed Wolves, still spewing after Raúl Jiménez’s sending off left them to play virtually the entire second half with 10 men, by two goals. By the end they had won a breathless game when Luke Ayling lashed home in stoppage time.
They had drawn level with two goals in four minutes and, one by one, those in white shirts jumped the advertising hoardings to embrace the away fans going ballistic in the lower bank of the Steve Bull stand.
On the sidelines, Leeds’ substitutes spilled into the technical area and Jesse Marsch and his coaching staff on to the pitch. Amid the madness, Bruno Lage’s clipboard, his second-half masterplan shattered, lay on the floor in the away dugout.
The manner of the equaliser was nothing short of absurd. Stuart Dallas was on the floor, grounded from a poor challenge by João Moutinho, who was lucky to avoid going the same way as Jiménez, but Leeds nevertheless pushed. Daniel James hit the woodwork when attempting to lob José Sá in the Wolves goal but the hosts failed to eliminate the danger. Romain Saïss’s wild clearance ballooned into the air and the Leeds substitute Sam Greenwood coolly controlled the ball and located Rodrigo, who skittled his shot inside the near post. Three minutes earlier, Jack Harrison had fired in from close range after Ayling smacked a post.
When the team sheet was released an hour before kick-off, Leeds supporters would have pointed to the names of Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips, the pair back in the squad for the first time since early December. Some fans may still have been digesting the welcome news when, with 21 minutes on the clock, another key player, Patrick Bamford, hobbled off the pitch after attempting to latch on to a through ball.
Bamford appeared to overstretch and landed awkwardly. Visibly distraught, he pulled his white Leeds shirt over his face before slumping into a seat in the away dugout. Cooper, the Leeds club captain, attempted to console Bamford, putting an arm round his shoulder but the striker, who had been steadily building fitness after returning from a foot injury, playing the first half in victory over Norwich, remained in tears. The 20-year-old Greenwood arrived in Bamford’s place for his second top-flight appearance.
If Leeds were reeling from Bamford’s injury, things went from bad to worse five minutes before the interval when Diego Llorente left the field holding his back and was replaced by Robin Koch. On the brink of the interval Mateusz Klich departed and Charlie Cresswell arrived as a concussion substitute.
Wolves, too, were forced into a first-half reshuffle. Rúben Neves tried to shake off an early knock but, a few minutes after returning to the pitch, he was withdrawn and Trincão arrived from the bench. But Wolves were undeterred and one of Trincão’s first acts proved decisive, the winger rattling down the right flank and crossing low for Jonny, who held his run and swept the ball home from inside the box, his finish nestling inside the far pocket of Illan Meslier’s goal.
It was a jam-packed first half and a disastrous one from a Leeds perspective, even if Marsch’s side began with plenty of gusto. Rodrigo prodded wide after meeting a James cross, seconds after Adam Forshaw extinguished a promising Wolves attack. Rayan Aït-Nouri did brilliantly at the byline, fooling Llorente but Forshaw scented the danger as Daniel Podence dallied inside the box.
Bamford squandered Leeds’ best opening on 11 minutes. James seized on Neves’s abnormally loose touch and Bamford, faced with Conor Coady, bared down on goal but screwed his shot wide. Marsch applauded from the sidelines but the picture quickly changed.
Wolves deservedly added a second goal into eight minutes of first-half stoppage time, Trincão firing in a wonderful left-foot strike after a quick free-kick outwitted Leeds. Jiménez was also in the mood but missed a handful of chances. His overhead-kick sailed over Meslier’s crossbar and he got his bearings wrong when he attempted to lob the Leeds goalkeeper after Podence snatched the ball from a ruffled Pascal Struijk. Podence then squared the ball from the left but Jiménez failed to make clean contact and instead Jonny forced Meslier into a fine save.
Wolves were in command but when Jiménez, already on a booking, collided with Meslier five minutes into the second half, the referee, Kevin Friend, reached for his cards and the striker was dismissed. It proved a significant flashpoint and caused another lengthy stoppage as both players received treatment. Jiménez raced on to Willy Boly’s high pass and when Cresswell failed to intercept, the striker was faced with Meslier, who had surged out of goal. Plenty of bickering between the benches unravelled on the sidelines but Jiménez, shaking his head, headed down the tunnel prematurely.
If Jiménez was in disbelief, one can only wonder how he felt as the remaining, barmy minutes unfolded.