Today was always going to be a tough game with Bielsa coming up against his disciple Pep Guardiola. Having had a hectic week and as usual only concentrating on Leeds United, I kept seeing before the game today, that we were going to get hammered. As usual, I said we need to play to our strengths, keep fighting and never giving up and we could finish the game strongly with a win. Whatever happens we would not be hammered in my opinion.
The team: Meslier, Cooper, Dallas, Koch, Phillips, Bamford, Costa, Roberts, Klich, Alioski and Bamford. Subs: Poveda for Alioski (45), Rodrigo for Roberts (56) and Davis for Klich (77). Leeds drew the game 1-1 with Rodrigo equalising for Leeds (59) after city had taken a 17th minute lead through Sterling. Subs not used: Caprile, Shackleton, Struijk and Llorente. Attendance: zero, behind closed doors. Referee: Mike Dean.
With heavy rain before the game from storm Alex, it showed no signs of abating, so the pitch was very heavy although it looked in great shape. The first 20 minutes saw Leeds under the cosh from city and it looked like they had scored from a free kick with Meslier beaten only for our luck to be hold with the ball hitting the post and back into play before going wide for a corner. Leeds were unable to get much play going, had to defend most of the time and it felt like we were in awe of them. They had quite a few chances before we had an attack and Alioski got into a great position, but his header went over the top. With Dallas stopping a shot on the line to keep us level, we succumbed a few minutes later when city took the lead. When I said to my other half that we would be able to play now as that had taken the pressure off us again as per Liverpool, he pulled a face at me. I said to him that it would, and I was proved to be right. Although city still had a lot of the game, Leeds started to make inroads with attacks on their goal firstly, Bamford had a shot that went wide and then with Dallas through their keeper made the save to keep him out. After another city chance, Leeds nearly got an equaliser just before the break when Ayling pounced on a defensive mistake but was denied by a great stop by their keeper. The signs were there that Leeds were starting to get into the game as we went into the break a goal down.
Bielsa started to change things at the start of the second half by bringing on Poveda to replace Alioski. Straight away Poveda ran down the wing putting city under pressure and lifting the Leeds players (and supporters no doubt). I like his attitude a great deal and he has a lot of skill for a recent newcomer to our team. When Rodrigo came on to replace Roberts, he added a bit more steel into the team and within two minutes came close to equalising as Leeds counterattacked with his deflected shot going over the crossbar resulting in a corner. When the corner came into the middle of the goal area, the keeper didn’t clear the ball which landed at Rodrigo’s feet for him to hit the ball into the net to equalise. My screams of joy didn’t go down well with my hubby’s hearing, so I had to tone it down a bit oops. With Phillips having a shot saved and Cooper’s header hitting the post, it was Rodrigo’s turn to come close when their keeper made a fantastic save to tip the ball onto the post to stop us taking the lead. City started to get back into the game after a substitution and with only Meslier to beat it looked like they were going to take the lead again. Meslier stood firm and eventually was able to grab the ball from his feet to prevent it. As the minutes counted down to the final whistle, I decided I wasn’t going to cross my fingers until the end of the game. I was going to be positive as I kicked every ball with the team, willed them on every attack and fought for every ball. It was end to end for a lot of the game as first city had a chance to win the game and then Bamford with a last chance for us, saw it saved once again by their keeper as the final whistle blew.
That was a great result for us today and as always, I am proud of the Leeds United team and proud to be a Leeds United supporter. Although we could have snatched a win at the death, a draw was a good result and today, also shows that we can play against the best with players costing millions more than ours. One thing I have noticed from playing in the Premier League is the standard of refereeing. Although I still don’t agree with every decision they make, there has been a better flow of the game rather than stop start for every challenge made. Admittedly they haven’t refereed a game in front aof a crowd as yet, but hopefully that will still be maintained when they do.
As I cannot be there in person to take photos of our fans as normal, if any of my blog followers would like to share photos of them watching the televised games that would be great. I may have to choose a selection if there are many, but would need to know the name of the group sending them so they can be acknowledged. Also if they are included in my blog there is a possibility they would be included in my 2021 book.
I am sure there are many more fans like myself who can’t wait to get back to the games and will be up for attending in person sooner rather than later. If you want volunteers Leeds, then please do not hesitate to ask me! Hope to see you all soon, LUFC – Marching on Together!