Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has explained why his side allowed Aston Villa to score a ‘walkthrough’ goal in their vital Championship match on Sunday afternoon.
Bielsa’s side went into the game needing a win to keep their slim hopes of automatic promotion alive following Sheffield United’s win on Saturday afternoon.
What actually happened at Elland Road? Five things you need to know…
- In the 71st minute, Jonathan Kodjia picked up an injury and Aston Villa expected Leeds to put the ball out.
- But instead, the game went on with Mateusz Klich giving the home side the lead a minute later.
- After a mass brawl spanning a few minutes – in which Anwar El Ghazi was sent off – play resumed.
- Direct from kick-off, Leeds allowed Aston Villa to walk the ball into the net – by order of Bielsa.
- But not every Leeds player got the memo, with Pontus Jansson trying to tackle Albert Adomah en route to goal.
The Blades sat six points clear of Leeds who had two games remaining but also boasted a vastly superior goal difference, but Bielsa’s side continued to fight against an Aston Villa side, who they may end up facing in the play-offs.
In a tight game, Leeds did manage to take the lead with 20 minutes remaining, but the goal came in controversial circumstances.
Aston Villa forward Kodjia went down inside the Leeds half with an injury, and though the referee did not stop the game, the home side appeared willing to put the ball out.
But instead, Tyler Roberts’ ball down the pitch was latched onto by Klich who went onto the score with the Villa team watching on. The 28-year-old was immediately caught by Conor Hourihane and a mass brawl broke out.
MINUTES OF MAYHEM
🔴 El Ghazi
⚽️ Adomah (but not if Jansson can help it 🤚)
😳 Terry vs Bielsa?
It was absolute chaos at Elland Road! Have you ever seen anything like that before?
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) April 28, 2019
Almost every player appeared to be involved and Villa’s El Ghazi was sent off for an apparent elbow on Patrick Bamford – though replays showed there was no contact.
As the fighting calmed down, Aston Villa prepared to kick off, with Bielsa telling his Leeds players to allow the away side to equalise.
Despite some reluctance, Leeds followed their manager’s orders and Adomah did equalise – though not before Jansson tried to tackle him.
This led to another mini brawl, which spread to the touchline with John Terry and Bielsa having some words.
It was a bizarre turn of events but, speaking after the game, Bielsa revealed why he told his team to concede.
“We gave the goal back,” he told Sky Sports.
“English football is known for sportsmanship so I don’t need to comment on this kind of thing, which is common in England.”
And Aston Villa manager Dean Smith added: “Klich has apologised. Every credit to Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa for putting that right.
“I asked him and he agreed. He said ‘yes’. He apologised for what happened. Fair play to them.
“It was a good game of football until that moment.”
The draw confirmed Sheffield United’s place in next season’s Premier League, leaving Leeds to deal with the play-offs.
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Aston Villa plan to appeal El Ghazi’s red card
While the goal will be the main talking point of the game, attention should not be taken away from El Ghazi’s sending off.
And after replays showed the Dutch international did little wrong, Smith revealed Aston Villa will be appealing the red card.
He added: “Without a shadow. I will be absolutely amazed if it’s not rescinded. We will appeal that. He doesn’t deserve it. We needed emotional control from everybody.”