Leeds United 1-1 Aston Villa: Points shared after astonishing scenes at Elland Road 
LEEDS, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and Aston Villa's Ahmed Elmohamady wrestle after Leeds' controversial goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Aston Villa at Elland Road on April 28, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Leeds United 1-1 Aston Villa: Points shared after astonishing scenes at Elland Road 

Marcelo Bielsa instructed Leeds to allow Aston Villa to equalise in a ill-tempered, ferocious game of football. They could well meet again in the playoffs.

nestorwatach
Nestor Watach

Leeds United and Aston Villa shared the points at Elland Road in a ferociously ill-tempered match that finished 1-1 on the day.

Leeds, refusing to kick the ball out of play after an Aston Villa injury, took advantage to send Mateusz Klich clean through to fire home midway through the second half. Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa then instructed his team to allow Dean Smith's men to equalise, with Albert Adomah given the easiest finish of his life. 

While Sheffield's United's goal difference all but confirmed Leeds' place out of the top two, this draw officially confirmed the Whites will be taking part in the playoffs.

There's every chance that this encounter is repeated in the playoffs  coming weeks, either as a two-legged semi or a final depending on results in the final round of games next weekend.

Story of the match

A lively first half saw chances for both teams, but neither keeper were forced to make any saves of note. As ever, Bielsa's men dominated possession but Villa were strong at the back and posed a threat on the counter.

Jack Harrison had Leeds' best opening early on as the ball fell to him, but he snatched at the shot completely and let the opportunity slip, 

Really, the opening half was characterised by frustrations with the regular stoppages from referee Stuart Attwell. Kalvin Phillips had also singled Jack Grealish out for special attention, following him around the pitch like a school bully intent on lunch money. 

Even Bielsa, usually reticent to criticise match officials, was booked. Shortly after, Attwell received a sarcastic, full standing round of applause from the Elland Road crowd.

Gaetano Berardi replaced Stuart Dallas at half time, while Tyler Roberts was brought in for a timid, ineffective Harrison.

Dallas had looked to suffer a knock in what could be a blow for the playoffs, given the top two choices at left-back, Gjanni Alioski and Barry Douglas, have already been ruled out until next season.

The introduction of Berardi, with a firebrand reputation at the best of times, could have had the effect of throwing a molotov cocktail into a street fight, given the volatile feel of the game.

But he was professional and composed, and it wasn't to be his contribution that made the game reach boiling point. 

Villa had stopped play after Jonathan Kodjia went down with an injury, but Roberts played through Klich, who ran through on goal and slotted past Jed Steer.

Anwar El Ghazi was dismissed for his part in the ensuing brawl. A subsequent three-match suspension would mean missing the playoff semi-finals, although there's a good chance it will be overturned after replays showed Patrick Bamford had embellished a swipe, to put it lightly. Conor Hourihane and Bamford also saw yellow for their roles, but the unprecedented, astonishing scenes were set to continue.

Bielsa, after exchanging some frank words with Villa assistant John Terry on the touchlines, instructed his players to allow the visitors an equaliser - much to the chagrin of his centre-half Pontus Jansson, who tried to tackle Adomah running free at goal.

It wasn't enough to stop him, though, and he was ultimately free to score past Kiko Casilla, standing aside to leave the goal gaping.

From there, ten-man Aston Villa were forced into a backs-to-the-wall performance as Leeds dominated, peppering shots at goal, but a compact and solid defensive performance denied them a winner. Tyrone Mings further cemented his claim as the most influential addition of the January transfer window with another towering display at the back.

Takeaways

It would be a mistake to let Stuart Attwell officiate the playoffs.

Attwell, an experienced Premier League referee, didn't look it here. He lost all control of this encounter, one which ultimately had little at stake. Constant stoppages ruined the flow of the game and cause emotions to spill over.

With a place in the Premier League at stake, such a pernickety, spoiling  modus operandi would not be the right one. 

This would be a worthy playoff final

This is the first time this season that Leeds have failed to win three games in a row, but their mojo looked to have returned, as they put the horror of Easter weekend, and two defeats in three days, behind them. 

Looking refocused, this was more like the Leeds team that had spent the vast majority of the season in the top two, with clever interplay in the final third and intensity in their pressing, but - as ever - profligacy in their finishing let them down.

But Smith's Villa showed their quality at both ends, demonstrating how they went on a run of ten straight wins. Mings and Axel Tuanzebe prove a formidable pairing, and both caused Leeds problems with marauding runs forward, while Tammy Abraham's imminent return from injury will offer them more in the final third.

 

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