Marcelo Bielsa on Leeds United's belief and why it was a deserved late victory over Manchester City

Marcelo Bielsa said his 10-man Leeds United deserved their 2-1 win over Manchester City due to their character and effort.

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 10th April 2021, 3:56 pm
Updated Saturday, 10th April 2021, 4:00 pm
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa watches on at Manchester City. Pic: Getty
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa watches on at Manchester City. Pic: Getty

Although the Whites head coach admitted Pep Guardiola's league leaders created enough chances to take three points he was proud of the way Leeds fought for victory.

Liam Cooper's red card in first half stoppage time left the visitors to the Etihard facing an uphill mountain, despite their 1-0 lead through Stuart Dallas.

A City side with seven changes from the Champions League clash with Dortmund were dominant after the break and set up camp in the Leeds half.

They didn't level until the 76th minute, Ferran Torres popping up in the box to beat Illan Meslier and give City hope of a 28th win in 29 games.

But Leeds, who posed a threat on the counter at times, hit City with an injury-time raid, Gjanni Alioski setting Dallas free to run in and beat Ederson for a famous winner.

"I think the dominance corresponded to City," said Bielsa.

"The majority of chances at goal were also in their favour. With those two arguments, if City had won it would have been fair.

"We think the result the team obtained was deserved because of the character, the personality, effort, the fortitude from a mental point of view and a physical point of view and it's a little bit strange to say it would have been fair for City to win but we deserved to win.

"I would like to explain the reason I believe we deserved to win was due to the belief of the players that they could do it."

Bielsa says Leeds' innate desire to get forward was always there in the second half, even if the circumstances they faced left them playing in an unfamiliar way, packing the penalty area and dropping deep to defend in numbers.

Leeds needed to be nearly perfect, in defence, to keep City from grabbing a second.

"It took a lot of concentration, a lot of adaptations to situations where we were at a disadvantage because the opponents players, all of them, can unbalance," said Bielsa.

"If they have the ball for so much time even more so. And if the final pass they give close to our area it's even more difficult. It was an exercise of defensive adaptation and capacity."

When the chance came to hit City on the break, they took it.

"Inside the spirit of the team is the desire to attack when the situation allowed for it," said Bielsa.

"It's difficult to attack when you don't have the possession of the ball to convert it into an attack. But some passages of the first half we had offensive presence and in the closing of the game we also have offensive presence.

"That wasn't constant as we didn't have the ball.

"In that sense Dallas with his enormous run, Raphinha with his capacity to unbalance and Helder who today made a massive effort allowed us to keep the hope of scoring one more goal."

Bielsa was delighted for Dallas to get the game winning goal, which he felt was just reward for the unselfish way in which the Northern Irish international plays for Leeds.

"It gives me great happiness for him because he's a player whose game is based on a lot of generosity," said the head coach.

"He's a player who helps all his team mates to recover the ball and not lose it. The goal gives a lot of shine to whoever manages to score it. For him to have scored two is normally an anomaly, it's deserved, it's competent, it's good. This year has allowed Dallas to show a part of himself that we didn't know he had."

Leeds became the first ever side to win at the Etihad having played for more than 45 minutes with 10 men but Bielsa was quick to dispel any notion that he had outwitted Guardiola.

"That Leeds beat Manchester City doesn't mean I imposed myself over their manager," he said.

"That Guardiola is the manager of the team that Leeds beat today, I don't consider anything on my part. What I do give great value is to the players who managed to win such a difficult game, especially a man down.

Bielsa was without record signing Rodrigo who he said picked up an injury in the last training session before the game.