Leeds United 2-2 Everton - A good day for football, bad day for Richarlison and a Marcelo Bielsa turning point

Football is back and it sounds great, as Leeds United's 2-2 draw with Everton at a packed Elland Road proved.

By Graham Smyth
Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 11:39 am
WELCOME HOME - Leeds United supporters turned a fixture into an occasion and a spectacle, packing out Elland Road for the first time since March 2020. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe
WELCOME HOME - Leeds United supporters turned a fixture into an occasion and a spectacle, packing out Elland Road for the first time since March 2020. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Whites reintroduced themselves to their adoring public, in a capacity home ground, for the first time since March 2020 and it was a special and memorable occasion.

Good day

Football

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This was much more like it. A proper game between two proper football clubs, old sporting institutions with history and culture, played out in front of fans in a proper atmosphere. It was well worth the wait, with all the drama, tension, needle and excitement such an occasion deserved. Football with fans feels and sounds right. A draw wasn't a bad result for either side and everyone could go home reasonably satisfied. What felt particularly fitting was the planned minute of silence becoming a minute of thunderous applause, just like at Old Trafford last week. It wouldn't be right to fall silent when grounds have been so empty, quiet and soulless for so long. The legends and sadly departed fans being remembered would have appreciated a proper Elland Road ovation. That is what they deserved and that is what they got.

Kalvin Phillips

Back in the team, back doing what he does best in this Leeds side. He didn't give them complete control but he provided defensive steel and got on the ball to good effect. Despite obvious tiredness late on he kept getting forward and it was from his cross that the equaliser came.

Bad day

Richarlison

The last time Everton came to Elland Road the Brazilian did not have a good time of it. His latest visit got off to a shocker as he spent more time on the turf than on his feet. Leeds were physical and he didn't appreciate it one bit. His moaning and complaining at Darren England barely ceased all afternoon. Elland Road is not his happy hunting ground.

Rodrigo

The club's record signing has hardly been able to catch a break since his big move from Valencia. He would have started this game had it not been for a slight niggle sustained in midweek. He was fit enough for the bench, but didn't get on and had to watch on from the sideline as others introduced themselves properly to Elland Road. His time will come, but this had to be another frustrating day in the Leeds life of a player with much to prove.

Number of the day

36,293

The noise inside Elland Road as the teams came out was special. The noise when Raphinha scored the equaliser was deafening. Throughout the game Leeds fans made it one to remember. Walking out to the sight of thousands of yellow flags waving and a tremendously loud a rendition as Marching on Together will live long in the players' memory. The appreciation for the Whites' title win, as Liam Cooper led the team on a post-game lap of the pitch, was a nice, long-awaited moment. Absence has clearly made the heart fonder.

Turning point

Bielsa's intervention

Demarai Gray was a problem for Leeds and his pace was causing issues. The goal he scored aside, he had exerted influence in the game far beyond what Leeds were comfortable with. Jamie Shackleton coming on and the tactical change to switch Dallas to the left side of midfield, helped contain Gray and put Leeds on the front foot. They regained control, equalised and could well have won the game, having looked in real trouble at 2-1 down. It's good to see Shackleton getting on for a good chunk of minutes in an important game, in a tricky scenario. It shows Bielsa trusts the youngster. He needs a big season, or at least a more active one than the previous campaign. It will be good for Leeds and their determination to show that there is a real pathway from academy to first team, if Shackleton features heavily in the coming weeks and months.

Off-camera moment

Marcelo Bielsa and Rafa Benitez greeted each other like old friends before the game, although the Leeds boss didn't see his counterpart's outstretched hand and the fist bump on offer, at first, leaving Benitez hanging until he took the matter and Bielsa into his own hands. After the game the pair strolled down the Elland Road touchline together deep in conversation and remained outside the tunnel to discuss the game's events for several minutes. It's rare to see Bielsa engaged in such a long conversation by an opposition manager. Benitez said their chat was nothing more than a catch up on how the fixture played out and the chances created, but a meeting of two such minds would be fascinating to witness.