Kalvin Phillips opens up on midfield battle with Bruno Fernandes during Leeds United and Manchester United stalemate

Leeds United star man Kalvin Phillips revealed he enjoyed his Elland Road battle with Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

By Joe Urquhart
Sunday, 25th April 2021, 5:49 pm
Updated Sunday, 25th April 2021, 5:52 pm
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips takes on Bruno Fernandes at Elland Road. Pic: Tony Johnson
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips takes on Bruno Fernandes at Elland Road. Pic: Tony Johnson

The Whites played out a 0-0 draw against their arch rivals in LS11 on Sunday afternoon in Premier League action.

It was the Red Devils' first trip to West Yorkshire in the top flight since October 2003 as the two teams met for a second time during Leeds' debut campaign in England's elite for 16 years.

Phillips - who was substituted at half-time in the 6-2 reverse at Old Trafford in December - put in an assured display for his boyhood club in a tactically enthralling encounter.

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa opted to deploy his holding midfielder in a man-to-man marking system against the free-flowing visitors.

Fernandes has 16 goals and 11 assists this season in the Premier League alone for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's outfit. Leeds, though, kept his influence on the match to a minimum largely in part due to Phillips during a competitive fixture which ebbed and flowed before resulting in a share of the spoils.

England boss Gareth Southgate was in attendance to keep a watchful eye over his Three Lions contingent for the meeting of two old foes.

The national team boss will have been left impressed by what he saw from the Yorkshire Pirlo in keeping the Portuguese midfielder at bay for his side throughout the ninety minutes.

"I enjoyed the game having a battle in midfield. We man mark every game. I tried to keep Bruno [Fernandes] quiet," Phillips reflected post-match.

"Thankfully he didn’t pop up with a goal so my job is done. This is what we are about - Leeds as a club and a team, making it hard for teams to come here.

"We are more vulnerable if we don’t pick wide men up. It is the way we play. The attackers are used to the marking and pressing."

Marcus Rashford tested the palms of goalkeeper Illan Meslier from distance while Fernandes also flashed a low effort past the Frenchman's goal in the first half.

Helder Costa went closest for Leeds but the winger saw a deflected effort fall the wrong side of Dean Henderson's crossbar.

The game opened up late on which forced a number of last-ditch tackles from both defences, though the two teams managed to keep a clean sheet - with Bielsa seeing his men move up to ninth in the standings.

“There were chances at either end," Phillips added.

"They had chances from set-pieces, I thought we kept them quiet. We had a couple of chances at the end too but it was a fair result I think.

“It was one of those games where you felt the fitter team would come out on top as it wore on - we believe we are one of the fitter teams in the league.

"There were a few chances at the end but all in all it was a deserved draw for both teams.

"Every team we learn lessons from. We've worked very hard throughout the season. In the last three games we've played top six teams and if there are any games you need to do well in, it is those.

"I think everyone deserves a pat on the back for the result."

Asked about the social media boycott that will take place across English football next weekend, he added: "If it helps catch people sending online abuse it is good.

"If it helps find out who these people are then I am all for it. We need to get behind it. There have been too many cases. It is not needed or part of the game."