Ipswich Town 1-0 Leeds United: Celina’s thunderbolt wins heated affair for Blues after O’Kane red
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Bersant Celina’s 25-yard rocket was the difference for Ipswich Town as they beat 10-men Leeds on a heated afternoon at Portman Road.
The Kosovo international let fly to find the top corner midway through the second half, settling a contest in which Eunan O’Kane saw red just before half-time for lashing out at Jonas Knudsen. The incident happened just yards from referee Robert Jones, who had no option but to send the midfielder off.
The decision incensed the 3,500-strong travelling Leeds fans, ramping up an atmosphere which had been heated from kick-off and was the loudest of any game this season.
The win is the Blues’ first since the December 16 success over Reading, halting a run of five games without a win and ensuring Mick McCarthy’s men remain in touch with the play-off places heading into next weekend’s visit to Bolton.
Following a superbly-observed minute’s applause for Ipswich legend Ted Phillips, who died at the age of 84 this week, the two sides began to tear into each other as the Blues made four changes to the side dumped out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United.
Joe Garner, Martyn Waghorn and Cole Skuse all returned, while Dean Gerken took the place of Bartosz Bialkowski after the Pole was ruled out with a calf strain.
There were flying tackles and altercations throughout the opening stages, notably involving Blues striker Garner, but little in the way of chances until Pawel Cibicki fired wide for the visitors.
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The away fans, housed across the length of the upper tier of the Cobbold Stand, made their presence felt throughout the contest, and enjoyed seeing their team cut through the Ipswich defence on a number of occasions without ever really testing Gerken in the Ipswich goal.
There were home attacks, too, with Waghorn pulling the strings with a number of neat touches, while Luke Chambers and Knudsen defended well to break up two more Leeds raids forward.
Then the game changed. Thirty seven minutes were on the clock when O’Kane bundled his way past Callum Connolly before the force of the run sent the Ipswich player to the ground. Knudsen squared up to the Leeds man, who responded with an apparent mix of head and forearm which sent the Dane crashing to the turf. It happened less than five metres from referee Jones, who had no hesitation in producing a straight red card.
It sent an already bubbling atmosphere up another level, with Leeds fans letting off a firework almost immediately, and from then on Ipswich tails were up for the remainder of the half, with Celina coming desperately close to breaking the deadlock as he curled a shot off the post. Connolly then dragged the rebound wide.
The on-loan Everton man had the first real effort of the second half, too, as his driving run ended in Felix Wiedwald beating his shot into the path of Garner, who could only fire wide.
The next Ipswich effort on goal saw Garner lash a shot high and wide into the North Stand, but it wasn’t long before Town were ahead.
Celina had come closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half and, when he bamboozled his man and took shape to shoot from 25 yards his effort flew into the top corner and lifted the roof off of Portman Road as he ran to the corner to celebrate.
Town tails were up and Garner could have made it two when he connected with a Kenlock cross, but could only head into the arms of Wiedwald.
Still Leeds had chances, though, with Liam Cooper somehow scooping over the top when it was easier to score and Pablo Hernandez firing narrowly over the top of Gerken’s goal. There was danger in stoppage time nerves, too, with Gerken required to make a good save to push Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s shot away.
But the Blues held on against the 10 men, with McCarthy’s side claiming three-much needed points in their battle to stay relevant in this season’s Championship.
Ipswich Town: Gerken; Iorfa, Chambers, Knudsen, Kenlock; Connolly, Skuse (Hyam 76); McGoldrick, Waghorn, Celina, Garner
Subs: Crowe, Smith, McDonnell, Bru, Drinan, Sears
Yellow cards: Iorfa, Connolly
Leeds United: Wiedwald, Berardi, Jansson, Cooper, Anita (Lasogga 78), Phillips, O’Kane, Cibicki (Sacko 29), Hernandez, Alioski (Shaughnessy 45), Roofe
Subs: Lonerghan, Dallas, Klich, Grot
Yellow cards: Jansson, Phillips Red card: O’Kane 37
Attendance: 18,637 (3,537 away fans)