'The energy was out of Leeds United' - Phillip Cocu reveals Derby County's plan after snatching a point at Elland Road

Phillip Cocu said his Derby County side stuck to their plan of just staying in the game, in the knowledge that Leeds might tire late on.

Saturday, 21st September 2019, 4:24 pm
Phillip Cocu said the energy was out of Leeds, late on (Pic: Getty)

The Dutchman was pleased with the point they snatched with a stoppage time goal from Chris Martin.

Leeds United had dominated their visitors in the first half and bettered them for a quarter of an hour after the break.

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The Whites, who led through a 20th minute own goal, hit the post and missed a penalty, before conceding a second late goal in successive home games.

Cocu was happy to admit Leeds had got the better of his team, initially.

"The first 35 minutes," he said, of Leeds' dominant spell.

"You have to give credit to Leeds, they are a big team, a lot of quality.

"They manage the ball, if they don't have it they're willing to put a lot in to win it."

Leeds' high press caused Derby serious problems early on, forcing errors in dangerous areas and an eventual change in tack from the visitors.

"We tried to play out from the back, we did well, but in the end we had to play more to Bielik to play from second situations to avoid the risk," said Cocu.

"After 35 minutes we got back in the game, we pushed them back, we kept the ball better, without creating a real threat. It was a start for us."

What was vital for Cocu was not going two goals behind.

Derby might have rode their luck at times, but they were always one shot away from a point.

And their manager had previous Elland Road results, when teams have found the net late on, at the back of his mind.

Ultimately, Derby were able to recreate scenes that are already too-familiar for Leeds supporters this season.

"I think for us the key element was, when we concede a goal, we have to make sure we stay in the game," he said.

"We stick to our plan, if we concede a goal, we kill the game for five to 10 minutes.

"We did well. Now you see how close it is, I don't know if it was a penalty, they don't score, we stayed in the game and score an excellent goal.

"The energy was out of Leeds and we still had possibilities to play.

"That's why I said to the players stay in the game.

"The way they play, which is very good, players comfortable on the ball under pressure, but they're spending a lot of energy - to keep this 90 minutes at the same level is extremely difficult.

"We knew if we could stay in the game until the last part. We were tired of course, but I think physically we were okay.

"We kept believing we could score the goal.

"Ourselves we had in two games a lead and we didn't score the penalty to go 2-0 and went on to draw and now it's happened to Leeds, so it's a good feeling in this way."