Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1: Mirco’s on a first-team mission

Mirco Antenucci lobs Blackpool keeper Joe Lewis to score his goal.
Mirco Antenucci lobs Blackpool keeper Joe Lewis to score his goal.
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Mirco Antenucci hopes his goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool will force him back into Leeds United’s starting line-up and give him the chance to sign off his first season at Elland Road in style.

The Italian produced his 10th goal of the term to rescue Leeds from defeat on a shocking pitch at Bloomfield Road and improve his prospects for the Championship run-in. Antenucci – a summer signing from Ternana last year – found his feet quickly in England and scored eight times before Christmas but he has started only one game since the turn of the year and went 14 games without finding the net.

He ended that drought with a midweek effort at Fulham last Wednesday and his 62nd-minute lob on Saturday earned United a point away to bottom-of-the-table Blackpool.

The 30-year-old’s finish came just eight minutes after head coach Neil Redfearn introduced him and Steve Morison from the bench with Leeds trailing to a 44th-minute Gary Madine header.

“There was a period when I played every week,” said Antenucci, who was linked with a loan move to Norwich City nine days ago. “I’ve stayed professional and in every training session I work hard. The choice is for the coach.

“You always want to play but it’s normal and no problem because it’s the coach’s choice. We work hard in training and it is up to him. I hope now to have another opportunity (to start).”

Leeds are beginning a two-week international break and will not play again until Blackburn Rovers visit Elland Road on Saturday, April 4.

Antenucci plans to spend time in Italy during the coming fortnight but vowed to return sharp and in-form for the last month of the Championship campaign.

“I’m going home now after eight months of staying in England,” he said. “When I come back here I’ll be better for the end of the season.”

Antenucci took his goal on Saturday – a lobbed finish from 10 yards – after a mix-up in Blackpool’s defence. Moments earlier he had passed up another good chance with a close-range volley over teh crossbar.

“I was lucky the defenders weren’t around, just the keeper, and I tried to lob him,” Antenucci said. “Luckily I scored.

“I was disappointed I missed the chance before because the ball dropped down well but at that moment I felt a player on my shoulder. It wasn’t easy.

“It was difficult to play on the pitch and this match was different to others.

“It wasn’t good.”