Helder Costa's latest Leeds United chance ends with injury after double boost from Marcelo Bielsa

HELDER Costa received a double boost from Marcelo Bielsa for Sunday's clash against Manchester United at Elland Road until injury cut the winger's mixed afternoon short.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 25th April 2021, 9:53 pm

Costa lined up on the right wing as Jack Harrison started on the opposite flank in the absence of Brazilian star Raphinha who again failed to make the match-day squad due to a thigh injury.

Costa and right back Luke Ayling faced a battle down their side of the pitch against Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw and the Red Devils attempted to make early inroads down that flank.

Leeds held firm with the focus again falling on Costa's defensive work, with which he excelled in this month's 2-1 win at Manchester City.

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CLOSE: Leeds United winger Helder Costa's deflected shot flies over the bar in Sunday's goalless draw against Manchester United at Elland Road. Photo by Tony Johnson.

The winger was then less effective in Monday night's 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool in which he was eventually taken off for Ian Poveda seven minutes after the hour.

Costa was again given the nod against the Red Devils but struggled to get involved during the opening exchanges.

But the winger was heavily involved in the 32nd minute as a neat move down the right ended with Ayling's cross being turned narrowly wide by Fred.

That came ten minutes after the Red Devils survived Whites; claims for a penalty after Luke Shaw stopped a Harrison cross with his arm which otherwise would have fallen to Costa at the far post.

Costa was then responsible for clearing a Red Devils corner before being sent tumbling to the ground after a stern challenge aerial from Harry Maguire.

The Whites winger picked himself up and was soon back harrying the Red Devils as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side looked to make a breakthrough as part of a goalless first half.

Costa and Harrison then swapped sides for the start of the second half, meaning that Costa and left back Gjanni Alioski now faced a battle against Dan James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the opposite flank.

Costa was immediately more involved from an attacking sphere and took up a good position in the Red Devils box as Stuart Dallas was found out wide on the left but was unable to send in a cross.

Dallas then picked out Costa in the box in the 54th minute and the winger fired a dangerous delivery across the box which Leeds were unable to convert.

At the other end, Costa was then skinned by Wan-Bissaka who sent in a low cross for Bruno Fernandes who wastefully sent his effort wide.

Another attacking opportunity then presented itself as Costa was found in space down the left but the winger's cross was blocked.

But the 27-year-old was then inches away from firing Leeds ahead in the 63rd minute when his powerful shot after being picked out by a Kalvin Phillips pass was deflected narrowly over.

Poor control then let the winger down as the Red Devils survived a Whites corner and Costa might have thought his game was up as Poveda prepared to come on in the 68th minute.

Bielsa instead opted to take off Harrison but Costa himself was then forced off injured just four minutes later.

The Whites winger was clattered by a suplex type challenge from Wan-Bissaka who somehow escaped a booking but there was no escaping the pain for Costa who fell awkwardly on his back.

The Red Devils played on despite Costa staying down injured and team mate Patrick Bamford eventually put the ball out.

Costa was eventually able to receive treatment but was clearly in pain and the former Wolves winger was then taken off for Mateusz Kich replaced him in the 72nd minute.

On the figures, Costa had just 19 touches of the ball - one per cent of the game's possession - and 18 of his 26 attempted passes were accurate. That meant a passing success rate of 71 per cent.

But his one attempt at goal almost resulted in a breakthrough and Costa's shift again had a lot of focus on the defensive aspect of the game.

One of his three attempted tackles proved successful but Costa also weighed in with two clearances and one aerial duel although four other aerial duels were unsuccessful.

The performance was a mixed bag but one which was threatening to produce the goods until injury struck in the latter stages and it remains to be seen who now starts out wide come next Saturday's return to action at Brighton.

Raphinha is the first name on the team sheet out wide if fit.

Thereafter, Costa, Harrison and increasingly Poveda are now battling for that other spot.

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Thank you Laura Collins