Rafa Benitez hails Leeds United strength after leaving Elland Road with Everton point

Everton boss Rafa Benitez refused to see Saturday's 2-2 draw at Leeds United as two points dropped and highlighted the strength of Marcelo Bielsa's Whites.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 9:52 pm

The Toffees led twice through a Dominic Calvert-Lewin penalty and Demarai Gray strike but Leeds hit back both times, firstly through Mateusz Klich and then Raphinha.

Asked if the draw was a case of two points dropped, Benitez told BBC Sport: "No not really. I think that we could have won.

"Obviously we had another chance to score the third goal and that could change everything but my feelings are that we were under pressure against a good team and then the team reacted well.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

HAPPY: Everton boss Rafa Benitez was more than satisfied with his side after Saturday's 2-2 draw against Leeds United at Elland Road, above. Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images.

"The team was fighting for every single ball and little by little we had more control in the counter attacks and the transitions and we had more chances so I am really pleased with the way that we reacted and we approached the game and then the commitment of the players.

"It's what you are expecting at the beginning of the time.

"I said before, Marcelo Bielsa has been working with this team for three years, we have been six weeks.

"I am expecting that we will improve but I was really pleased with the way that we were doing things today."

Everton were twice denied a third goal when 2-1 up as Illan Meslier twice denied Calvert-Lewin at close range.

Benitez added: "We have had 17 attempts away from home and clear chances.

"These couple of chances and at the end we had a couple of shots that could have been even better.

"But overall I think that we did well against a good team.

"They were pushing and we reacted well so I am very happy at this moment and hopefully we can continue improving."

For Everton, Saturday's draw followed a 3-1 win at home to Southampton over the opening weekend.

Reflecting on four points out of six, Benitez reasoned: "You are always optimistic, you are expecting that the team will do well.

"This team - we knew they would be very tough, very difficult but we have confidence and in the second half you could see that the team was growing and growing in confidence too.

"Maybe we could have scored a goal but they were pushing so you have to say that is fine so I am pleased with that."

A message from the Editor:

Leeds has a fantastic story to tell - and the Yorkshire Evening Post has been rooted firmly at the heart of telling the stories of our city since 1890.

We believe in ourselves and hope you believe in us too. We need your support to help ensure we can continue to be at the heart of life in Leeds.

Subscribe to our website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app.

With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Click here to subscribe.

For more details on our newspaper subscription offers click here.

Thank you Laura Collins