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  • Championship Play Offs: All To Play For At Elland Road As Norwich And Leeds Share Goalless Draw In First Leg

Championship Play-offs: All to play for at Elland Road as Norwich and Leeds share goalless draw in first leg

Norwich and Leeds shared a 0-0 first-leg stalemate at Carrow Road that left their Championship play-off semi-final evenly poised.

It was a clash that was short on quality in the final third as neither goalkeeper found himself overworked, although Leeds had a goal ruled out before half-time.

The tie will be decided at Elland Road on Thursday night with both sets of supporters hoping for a bit more magic.

Leeds had finished the regular season with 90 points, 17 more than sixth-placed Norwich, who had been down in 17th in November when many supporters wanted manager David Wagner sacked.

Wagner survived and the man who took Huddersfield up via the play-offs in 2017 found himself pitted in the 2024 version against fellow German Daniel Farke, who had led Norwich to automatic promotion as Championship winners in 2019 and 2021.

Leeds won both of this season’s previous meetings, coming back from behind to triumph 3-2 at Carrow Road in October and then winning their home game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Patrick Bamford.

Bamford was out injured for this one, with Norwich defender Shane Duffy, who scored for both clubs in the first game, starting despite being charged with drink-driving earlier in the week.

It was a frantic start with Marcelino Nunez’s shot going out for a throw-in and Georginio Rutter missing his kick in front of goal at the other end.

Referee Josh Smith added to the raucous atmosphere for failing to award Leeds a penalty when Borja Sainz hauled Wilfried Gnonto to the ground right in front of the away section, possibly because he thought the Spaniard got a touch on the ball.

Gnonto saw a drive blocked before Josh Sargent glanced a header wide at the other end.

Norwich were on top as Gabriel Sara had a free-kick saved before Nunez was off-target again.

Junior Firpo had the ball in the Norwich net on the half-hour mark after Duffy poked it past his own goalkeeper, Angus Gunn, but Rutter had been flagged offside in the build-up.

The sapping sun saw the tempo slow, with Gnonto booked just before the break for some sarcastic clapping of a decision that went against him.

Duffy was cautioned early in the second period for a crude challenge on Crysencio Summerville, who had hardly been in the game, and Norwich’s best chance in a while followed when Dimi Giannoulis crossed for Sara to strike just wide with a first-time effort. Giannoulis was then booked for fouling Gnonto.

Firpo and Summerville tested Gunn at his near post but play stopped when Sainz caught Gnonto on the head with a boot.

Both sides made changes, including attacking ones, but no clear chances and therefore no goals followed.

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