Manchester City v Leeds United 10th April 2021 at the Etihad

Follow Me and Leeds United blog by Heidi Haigh – Manchester City v Leeds United 10th April 2021 at the Etihad 

The photo was taken by me in the Leeds United Supporters Club on Fullerton Park during the seventies when we played Man City at Elland Road.

Once the game kicked off, I was fine, but before that I wanted to cry. I just can’t get the same enthusiasm pre-game when I know I can’t go to the game in person.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Phillips, Alioski, Bamford, Raphinha, Dallas, Roberts, Costa (replaces Harrison as he is not allowed to play as he is on loan from city) and Llorente. Subs: Struijk for Bamford (45), Koch for Roberts (63) and Shackleton for Raphinha (90+5). Subs not used: Casilla, Poveda, Hernandez, Berardi, Gelhardt and Klich. Leeds won the game 2-1 with Dallas scoring a brace (42 & 90+1). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Andre Marriner. Booked: Cooper (red) and Alioski.

There was a two-minute silence as a mark of respect after the death of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh yesterday with black armbands worn by the players. I was looking forward to a good game but suddenly got extremely nervous, knowing we were up against a good team but feeling that we had to do well today. After having two magpies for good luck in my garden this morning, I was waiting to see if that worked in our favour.

A good run by Raphinha but his cross into the box was behind our player but could have been in a good position to score. Players from both sides were slipping all over the pitch in the opening minutes taking me back to how ours had been earlier this season. There were flashes from both sides in winning corners, but nothing came of them. Another great run from Raphinha saw him cross the ball in the box. Bamford was coming in behind the defender and thought he was was getting the ball so was unprepared when it came through just behind him. What a shame as that would have been a good goal scoring opportunity. With city closing us down well there wasn’t a lot of space to work with, but Costa kept going to win the ball. City attacked us again and two good blocks from their corner, first from Cooper and the second from Bamford kept them out. Costa again came away with the ball after some good work but seemed to slow up with a city player breathing down his neck.

Some nice defending from Dallas before some silly passing around the back four put us under pressure and in trouble but luckily, we got the ball away. We cannot afford to give the impetus to a team like city. A fantastic ball from Raphinha to Roberts ended with a corner to Leeds. Raphinha’s corner did not beat the first man so Phillips took our second corner, but nothing came of it. A back pass to Meslier saw the ball go under his foot but as he was far enough out, he got to the ball in time to get it back again. A city attack saw Meslier save with his feet to keep the score at 0-0 then they won a free kick as their player went down easily with Roberts chasing him.

A foul on Bamford earned their player a booking but the free kick from Raphinha went straight to their man who cleared it. Meslier made the save from a low shot before city had another chance but the final shot was wide. Phillips was battling to keep the ball when he received a kick, but the referee played on. He then spoke to Phillips who must have said something to him. The commentators said that Leeds hadn’t had a shot on goal in the first 35 minutes. No, we had not, but on 42 minutes we were in the lead!! Costa’s persistence paid off as he got the ball to Bamford; he laid it off for Dallas to hit the ball off the inside of the post and into the net for Leeds to take the lead. That was good timing to score just before half time but things turned on their head shortly after that. As city came back on the attack Cooper got booked but he had played the ball first. I thought that was an unjust booking even though their player stayed down. The referee then consulted with VAR and took back the yellow card only to give him a straight red card instead, as Cooper had caught their player’s back leg with his studs. That was hardlines for Cooper as I thought the referee had rescinded the yellow card altogether, as momentum carried him forward after winning the ball. Bielsa made a tactical substitution then and brought on Struijk for Bamford. With three minutes injury time to play, the referee played nearly six minutes and why, I have no idea.

The second half saw their player fall down with hardly any contact and when we got a push in the back our player carried on. We were going to have 45 minutes of city attacks and would have to rely on break away attacks from Leeds. Good defending from first Alioski then Phillips putting the ball out for a corner kept up that siege mentality with our backs against the wall. A great save from Meslier saw him react quickly to get the ball at the second attempt. Their player stood on Meslier’s hand when he had got both hands on the ball and didn’t even get pulled up by the referee for it! The difference to some of their players being wet blankets and going down at the slightest contact showed a lot. Meslier was catching the ball and commanding his area well as he made another save.  Koch was brought on to replace Roberts before Alioski found himself in the book for a foul.

Meslier tipped the ball over the top from a long range shot then made another save shortly after. When City brought Foden on as sub, it did make me feel slightly anxious and my fears were true to form when they equalised. Their man was left on his own in the penalty area but Meslier slipped just before their final shot to score. We had been mainly camped in our penalty area but had been man marking up until then. As there had been constant attacks from man city, it was not surprising they had scored really. Leeds managed to win a free kick that Costa won and had Struijk and Llorente in their box, but city got the ball and raced forward to attack us. As our players raced back in defence their player was brought down to give us a reprieve as they were awarded a free kick. Alioski blocked a shot for a corner and then some good play from Phillips saw Leeds defending well.

Raphinha started to get forwards and was brought down which got them a booking. Shortly after this after a great ball from Phillips, Raphinha was through again with just the keeper to beat. As he tried to swap feet the keeper won the ball with his feet to prevent Leeds taking the lead again. The last five minutes had seen the game opening up a bit as Leeds started looking for a winner. Phillips was awarded man of the match. Meslier made a save and then threw the ball straight out to the wing for Alioski to send a great ball through for Dallas. He ran forward and whilst battling with the defender, nutmegged the keeper to put Leeds back into the lead in injury time. I was screaming like a banshee as well as thousands of Leeds United fans around the world, as the team including Meslier celebrated in the right-hand corner of the pitch. What a goal Leeds and it looked as if it was going to be the winner. When play resumed, Raphinha was through again but brought down with a bad foul that only got them a booking. I could not believe it when the referee once again had to play three minutes injury time but had already played five minutes. Apart from us scoring and celebrating, there was nothing that held the game up. With Raphinha injured in that tackle he was replaced by Shackleton for the final minute. With 96 minutes on the clock the referee blew for time and Leeds had won 2-1 and beaten the league leaders to go into 9th place in the table. After each minute of the second half dragging for so long whilst under attack from city, it was a great team performance and a ground out win..

What a morale booster that second goal from Dallas was as old habits die hard and every goal we score, gives cause for celebrations. I would have loved it even better in that away end today though! The win today was dedicated by some fans to Chris and Kev and also, Pete Jenkinson from South Kirkby LUSC and Pudsey Macca who both died this week. LUFC – Marching on Together in heaven lads.