Aston Villa 2 Leeds United 1: A night of what-might-have-beens ends in another defeat and more pressure on Jesse Marsch

Aston Villa 2Leeds United 1It was yet another couda, woulda, shoulda night from Leeds United. This broken record needs changing.

For over an hour they were the better team at Villa Park, even if it all evaporated once Emi Buendia headed his team 2-0 up in the 63rd minute.

In a season of what-might-have-beens, this loss took the biscuit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Even Patrick Bamford's late goal rubbed salt into the wound, making the final score 2-1 but there was never much danger of an unlikely comeback, for all the good work put in at 1-0.

It is probably the fact results are not often reflecting performances which is keeping Leeds coach Jesse Marsch in a job but it is his responsibility to make sure they do. Two wins in 17 games in all competitions is a desperately poor return which would produce a P45 at many a club.

It was a long way short of Leicester City away before the World Cup, but there were definite rumbles of "Marsch out!" from the visiting supporters and boos when he went over to them at full-time.

Leeds could point to a few moments of Villa brilliance for their failure to score when on top but the fact they let Villa take the league was all down to their own doziness. It has to stop.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There was not a lot wrong with Leeds' first hour but you do not have to get a lot wrong to be beaten in the Premier League.

KILLER BLOW: Leon Bailey puts Aston Villa in front against Leeds UnitedKILLER BLOW: Leon Bailey puts Aston Villa in front against Leeds United
KILLER BLOW: Leon Bailey puts Aston Villa in front against Leeds United

The visitors had a goal disallowed for a tight offside, and were denied by some brilliant defending by Aston Villa debutant Alex Moreno and a tremendous save from World Cup hero/villain Emiliano Martinez.

But before any of those things could happen, they switched off for a minute and gave Aston Villa a headstart.

The game was not three minutes old when an unchallenged Marc Roca somehow failed to make contact with Jack Harrison's well-flighted corner and Leeds were caught cold.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Villa broke, got the ball to Boubacar Kamara, who picked Leon Bailey out for a curling shot into the corner.

With Pascal Struijk looking low on confidence at the moment, you worried for Leeds every time Villa got the ball out to Bailey's flank, but the threat amounted to nothing more than a driven ball too far in front of Ollie Watkins from a forward perhaps caught in two minds.

But there was plenty of action at the other end, with the visitors looking particularly threatening every time they got the ball into Willy Gnonto's feet.

Harrison, playing one of the half-and-half roles Marsch seems so fond of since the World Cup as the right-sided midfielder in a 4-3-3 and the winger in a 4-2-3-1, went on an excellent run in the 18th minute and picked out Rodrigo. As he struggled to get the ball out of his feet, a defender did it for him.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When Brenden Aaronson played a clever Wout Weghort-style free-kick, Douglas Luis took a risk being a bit too touchy-feely with Rodrigo and Harrison stabbed the ball wide when it dropped to him.

Harrison played a lovely ball to Rodrigo and when he took the ball around Martinez you expected him to score but Moreno did brilliantly to get back and clear off the line.

Whilst Leeds struggle to find a specialist left-back they can trust, Villa had rubbed salt into the wound by bringing Moreno on as a spare one when Lucas Digne went down injured.

Martinez denied Harrison with a brilliant save at the start of time added on for Digne's injury and the time-wasting which was so infuriating Marsch, then Rodrigo had the ball in the net only for video assistant referee Andy Madley to back up the on-pitch officials.

It had a not-your-night feel.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Villa carried more attacking threat after the break, Illan Meslier saving from Moreno after a deflection took the sting out of his shot before a stretching Martinez outdid him seconds later to keep out Gnonto.

Luiz shot over after Bailey beat Struijk too easily but when he did so again, Meslier's save could only present a header Buendia headed in. Despite the officials' instincts, the VAR gave the goal.

That looked very much like that until Gnonto spun on the ball near the corner and laid on a chance fit-again substitute Bamford tapped in for his first goal since December 2021.

It raised false hope with 83 minutes gone, some confusion from a corner deep into stoppage time the nearest they came to a chance thereafter.

There were positives, but no points.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Aston Villa: Martínez; A Young, Konsa, Mings, Digne (Moreno 10); Kamara, Lui; Bailey, Buendía (Sanson 82), J Ramsey (Coutinho 82); Watkins (Ings 32). Unused substitutes: Chambers, Nakamba, Bednarek, Olsen, K Young.Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Koch (Firpo 88), Cooper, Struijk (Wober 67); Adams, Roca (Greenwood 77); Harrison (Bamford 67), Aaronson (Gelhardt 77), Gnonto; Rodrigo. Unused substitutes: Robles, Llorente, Kristensen, Perkins.Referee: M Oliver (Ashington).