Watford 2-2 Leeds United: Substitute Mateo Joseph earns point for promotion-hunting Whites

Emmanuel Dennis celebrates with a backflip
Emmanuel Dennis scored just before the break to put Watford ahead [Getty Images]

Leeds United missed the chance to return to the top of the Championship but snatched a point late on at Watford to extend their unbeaten league run to 14 games.

The hosts produced perhaps their best half of the season as Vakoun Bayo and Emmanuel Dennis struck before the break, either side of a Crysencio Summerville stunner, to put them 2-1 ahead at half-time.

But substitute Mateo Joseph bundled in a leveller, just 25 seconds after coming off the bench, to extend Watford's winless streak at Vicarage Road to 10 league matches.

Second-placed Leeds are a point behind new leaders Ipswich after conceding twice in a league game for the first time since Boxing Day.

Despite Watford making a bright start, they failed to create many early chances before Hornets keeper Daniel Bachmann made a smart reaction save to keep out Summerville's low angled strike from the edge of the box.

But Watford deservedly went ahead after Edo Kayembe won the ball in midfield and spread it left to Jamal Lewis who found Yaser Asprilla. The ball was cut back for Dennis whose powerful drive was parried by Illan Meslier, but only as far as Bayo who lashed home the rebound on the volley.

It was just the fourth goal Leeds had conceded in 14 league games in 2024 and the first from open play since 29 December.

Joe Rodon produced a fine recovery tackle to deny Dennis a second moments later, and eight minutes before the break Summerville levelled with his 16th goal of the season and first in eight games.

The Dutchman drove from the left touchline to the corner of the area and bent a sublime right-footed effort past Bachmann and inside the far post.

Mattie Pollock saw a header from a corner held by Meslier but Dennis restored the hosts' lead with a fine solo goal just before half-time, jinking in from the right of the area and bamboozling Liam Cooper with nifty footwork before curling a powerful effort low into the corner.

Leeds dominated possession without much to show for it for much of the second half. Bachmann stood firm to turn a Summerville toe-poke from close range round his near post while Dan James' cross-shot narrowly evaded the sliding Patrick Bamford.

However, Spain Under-21 international Joseph made an immediate impact with the fastest goal by a substitute in the Championship this season.

The excellent Summerville drifted to the left, crossed low into the six-yard box and 20-year-old Joseph prodded in at the second time of asking.

Fellow substitute Jaidon Anthony was denied by a superb save with his feet by Bachmann as the visitors sought to win it late on, but both sides had to settle for a point.

Watford interim manager Tom Cleverley:

"I thought it was a much stronger performance even though we have not got the three points. For the first 65 minutes we were excellent, I'm really proud of the players tonight.

"What pleased me most was the focus of the players, not one switched off.

"Now my job is to create a game plan to win every game and I thought the players absolutely nailed it."

Leeds boss Daniel Farke:

"I will take this point all day long. I am really happy and proud of the boys. We played this game at the worst possible moment. Watford, they have a new manager and there is new belief, he knows the players inside out and they were unleashed and had a great start.

"We had the worst possible international break. For us three players came back injured and three Welsh players had the disappointment of not being allowed to go to the Euros. We had not one first team training session as a team.

"We had to play this game by just pressing a button and we were not at our best rhythm. Then to play such a second half, I'm pretty happy with the outcome."