Pep Clotet points to Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United's fair play after controversial incident in Birmingham City and Middlesbrough draw

The Birmingham City boss brought up the controversial incident between Leeds United and Aston Villa on Tuesday night

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 12:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 1:57 pm
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa and Birmingham City boss Pep Clotet greet at Elland Road. (Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Pep Clotet pointed to Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United's fair play after Birmingham City's controversial draw with Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.

The Spaniard saw his side play out a 1-1 draw at the Riverside in their Championship clash with Jonathan Woodgate's men.

Lukas Jutkiewicz opened the scoring in the first half before Ashley Fletcher hit back for the hosts in the 81st minute to level up the tie.

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Clotet thought his side had scored a late winner only to see referee Andy Woolmer blow the whistle moments before Jutkiewicz found the back of the net in a quick counter attack.

Blues midfielder Jude Bellingham won the ball in a clash with Boro's Marcus Tavernier on the edge of his own box - who went down with an apparent head injury - which set the visitors on their way before play was halted at the vital moment.

The Spaniard accused the opposition dugout of "storming the pitch" as soon as his side broke at pace and the incident sparked a mass brawl between the two benches with City's goal failing to stand.

Afterwards Clotet pointed to Leeds United's fair play against Aston Villa last season, where Marcelo Bielsa instructed his side to concede a goal to Dean Smith's men after Mateusz Klich bagged at Elland Road with Jonathan Kodjia down injured on the halfway line.

“The goal is a goal - of course,” Clotet said.

“I understand that the referee blows before and has the right to stop the game whenever he feels.

“We kept playing, they kept playing and what I understand is the way that some staff in the bench of Middlesbrough stormed the pitch as soon as we had the counter attack, with a view to stop the play.

"We all need to love the game a little bit more and make sure we represent the best values of the game - because that was a clear goal.

“Bielsa and Leeds against Aston Villa comes to my mind last season, that was a game that was more than three points.

"Leeds score a goal that doesn’t feel right. Today we scored a goal that feels right and it just comes to my mind how good Bielsa applied the fair play last season.”

Clotet explained the incident further: "It’s a clear counter attack, we won the ball very fairly and broke on them, like we broke on them very good with all the counter attacks we had earlier.

“Jude put a fantastic ball to Jukie and that ball goes in. As soon as we start to break there are a couple of physios from the opposition bench that storm onto the pitch with some of their staff.

“There was the atmosphere in Middlesbrough to try and stop that counter attack with whatever method they could and they succeeded, there is nothing more to add.

“It’s not up to us but someone should look into this, this means if I want to avoid a counter attack I need to drop one of my players and storm two officials on the pitch every time, that’s not the game, that’s not football.”