Wolves 1-0 Leeds United - the two sides to Liam Cooper, a bad day for technology and the off-camera moments

Liam Cooper put in a faultless performance, at least at one end of the pitch, in Leeds United's 1-0 defeat by Wolves.

Saturday, 20th February 2021, 11:39 am
CHANCE GONE - Leeds United captain Liam Cooper was a menace in the Wolves penalty area but couldn't convert the chances Raphinha sent his way. Pic: Getty

The Whites skipper found himself in the thick of the action both defensively and offensively and had he got the latter part right would have walked away with the undisputed Man of the Match award.

He features in the YEP's good day and bad day categories this week.

Good day

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Liam Cooper

Defensively, the centre-half had a rock solid performance. He made a number of big tackles, intereceptions and blocks, some of them incredibly timely and in dangerous areas of the pitch. In the air he was difficult to beat and gave Willian José a rough night. The centre-forward got little joy from either Cooper or Struijk all night. Cooper's passing wasn't always as good as it can be but he still contributed to Leeds' direct play from back to front.

Raphinha

With Leeds United's left side not functioning as it can, Raphinha had to take extra responsibility and had a huge involvement in the game. He had 21 more touches than any Wolves player and eight more than any of his team-mates. He produced 13 crosses, six key passes and four shots. What really stood out was his delivery from free-kicks in the Wolves' half of the pitch. He continually found Liam Cooper who should have scored at least one and could have ended the game with a hat-trick.

Bad day

Liam Cooper

Three headers and one shot, all from Raphinha free-kicks, should have got him on the scoresheet. The Scotland international deserves credit for managing to get free of his marker on so many occasions and Raphinha deserves even more credit for the quality of his deliveries, but Cooper must have been distraught at not being able to convert at least one. Leeds were unlucky but as Marcelo Bielsa said after the game, you have to take luck out of the equation with your performance. Just like his central defensive partner Struijk, who put a raft of misses in a previous game behind him to thump in a header against Arsenal, Cooper will feel like he owes the team a goal.

Technology

Another post-game press conference lost to struggling WiFi. It's not the first time some of Marcelo Bielsa's post-game thoughts have fallen victim to technology but before the Zoom call went down we did at least have the highlight of one unmuted journalist's sweary rant about how few paragraphs of quotes he would be able to salvage from it.

Off camera moments

There was angst in the air at Molineux, particularly in the latter stages. From Luke Ayling's withering blast at an assistant referee whose flag did not come up when the defender felt it should and the sarcastic applause that followed when the official got his next call right, to the words sent in the direction of the Wolves bench from the Leeds technical area when Conor Coady went down holding his head after blocking a shot with it in the late stages, it all got a bit tense. Coady staying down halted a Whites attack and Pablo Quiroga was distinctly unamused. Cooper too voiced his unprintable opinion. The fourth official, who had earlier got it in the neck from the home bench after a seemingly inoccuous coming together of two players in an aerial battle, was, as ever, caught in the crossfire.

The full-time whistle didn't quite bring an end to the passion, either. Victor Orta's verbal output from the directors' seats halted some of the Wolves staff in their tracks as they were leaving the field, the animated Spaniard gesticulating wildly and making his point before letting it go. The looks on some of the faces of the home coaching team carried the same bewilderment as members of the press when the almost empty stadium was treated to a spectacular light show before kick-off. Quite who it was aimed at was unclear.

It wasn't all fraught on the night, there were affectionate embraces aplenty for the returning promotion hero Helder Costa. The former Wolves winger was given a warm welcome back to his old place of employment by numerous players and staff members. Had he tucked away a last-gasp chance to snatch what would have been a deserved equaliser for the Whites, it would have been a perfect ending for the Portuguese. He did not, however, and there was doubtless some relief in the greetings he received on the pitch at full-time from a gaggle of ex colleagues.