Marcelo Bielsa explains emotions and names players who surprised him in Leeds United's win over Crystal Palace

Leeds United can breathe again thanks to their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, according to Marcelo Bielsa.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 11:21 pm

The Whites head coach spoke of his relief after a victory that came in the highest of drama at Elland Road.

Raphinha's stoppage time penalty decided a game that held good chances for both sides.

With just two wins to their name prior to the visit of the Eagles, the three points were vital for Bielsa.

"It was a victory that was very necessary," he said.

"In the campaign so far we've picked up few points and in every game there's points at play that could help us improve our campaign.

"It was a relief, we can breathe again. It was very satisfying. But the succession of games means we have another challenge again."

What pleased the Argentine most was the aggressive nature of the performance, both going forward and defending.

BIG MOMENT - Raphinha converted a stoppage time penalty to give Leeds United a dramatic win over Crystal Palace. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

"The intensity in which the team played, the constant search for the goal even if it was difficult to get it and the togetherness of the team to be able to defend together and attack," he said.

"The team fought the whole game, it's true, it's necessary. Either way our team usually gives everything in every game. In that aspect the team was very similar to the game against Leicester and always a victory brings happiness which is indispensable."

Bielsa handed a start to Tyler Roberts up front and admitted surprise at the level of the forward's physical effort.

"He was very important, he didn't stop fighting ever, he kept our team alive and present," said the head coach.

"I didn't imagine he could run as much as he did throughout 90 minutes. It's a performance that allows him to show he's an option."

Another player to pleasantly surprise his boss is Adam Forshaw. Having missed two years of league games through injury the midfielder has made himself an important part of the team again and having run further than any other player at Brighton on Sunday, put in another huge shift against Palace.

"Very, very impressed with him," said Bielsa.

"To be fair and sincere, I didn't expect him to come back to who he was before. To have achieved it in the succession of games, he deserves to be valued by those who helped him get healthy and for himself and his affections. I don't include myself in that contribution. I never expected him to come back this way."

Pascal Struijk started at left-back but had to be replaced at the break having struggled with a knock he carried into the game, something for which Bielsa praised him.

"It's the same injury," said Bielsa.

"All of us value that he played with the physical limitations he played with. It's a knack that is very generous and shows how good a teammate he is to us."

And the Argentine reserved a word of praise for the match-winner Raphinha, who volunteered to take the pressure penalty late on.

He said: "He’s very important and to score that goal he needed a lot of character, personality and courage. He got us the three points.”

The win moved Leeds up to 15th in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday's Elland Road clash with 11th-placed Brentford, who sit just a point ahead of Bielsa's men.