Faltering promotion hopefuls Leeds United recovered from a goalkeeping blunder to earn a point at Brentford that keeps them second in the Championship.
A disastrous mistake from Kiko Casilla, letting a routine pass back from captain Liam Cooper roll under his foot, allowed Said Benrahma to open the scoring with a tap-in for the Londoners.
Another goalkeeping error allowed Cooper to stab home an equaliser, the ball falling at the defender’s feet after David Raya failed to deal with a corner.
Helder Costa wasted Leeds’ best chance to win it after the break, firing weakly into the grasp of Raya after getting onto a deflected cross from Mateusz Klich, meaning the visitors had to settle for a draw that keeps them in the automatic promotion spots.
Leeds started the night level on points with Fulham and ahead in the table on goal difference alone, and the draw at Griffin Park means Fulham will move above the Whites on Wednesday if they beat Millwall at The Den.
The point in west London was just the 10th Marcelo Bielsa’s side have collected from a possible 33, a wrenched run that meant Brentford could have moved above them and into second themselves with victory.
Thomas Frank’s Bees had been 16 points and eight places adrift of the Yorkshire club when they returned to the top of the table after recording a seventh successive league win on 10 December.
A share of the spoils now leaves Brentford two points and two places adrift of Leeds after they moved above Nottingham Forest, who were upstaged at home by Charlton.
Leeds had conceded first in eight of their past nine matches and were gifted an early opportunity to rectify that run when Jack Harrison dispossessed defender Henrik Dalsgaard just outside the box and, while he was able to skip past two challenges to create time and space to shoot, his tame effort was easily collected by Raya.
The handout from Casilla, however, was taken in emphatic fashion by Benrahma – the Algerian pouncing on the error to drill home his ninth goal of the season into an empty net.
Leeds went on to heap pressure on the team with the Championship’s best defensive record in response, Pablo Hernandez testing Raya with a volley before an in-swinging corner from Harrison on the right beat the Spanish keeper and teed Cooper up for his first goal since October 2018.
Just as Leeds had done against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Leeds dominated possession – this time controlling 67% compared to 70% against the Reds – and played with plenty of endeavour but lacked a clinical finisher.
Costa’s effort when he found himself free on the edge of the area was their most glaring missed chance, but the Bees did well to limit Leeds in a game that keeps both sides’ Premier League aspirations intact.
“It was a fair result, a very even game with very few chances, unbelievably intense, in terms of the duels, the high pressure at both ends.
“I should have done the substitutions 10 minutes earlier, but it’s always easier to think about that afterwards. I’m a big believer in the two new signings from Oxford [Shandon Baptiste and Tariq Fosu] but it was such an intense game and different to other Championship games. Not that they’re not intense, but it’s about the style of play from Leeds.
“I think we went toe-to-toe. It was an even game, I’d have liked us to have more of the ball and be better on the ball, but we weren’t today.”