MARCELO BIELSA admitted nothing could compare to the emotion and elation experienced at Elland Road as Leeds United secured a scarcely believable success against Blackburn Rovers that eclipsed even Sunday’s box-office drama at Aston Villa.
Just three days after a stunning 3-2 triumph at Villa Park in which Leeds trailed 2-0 after 19 minutes, United somehow secured a seventh-straight victory in even more dramatic circumstances, recovering from being 2-1 down in the 90th minute to win 3-2 just four minutes later.
Bielsa’s men looked on course for a straightforward success after Blackburn’s Derrick Williams had cleared a Jack Harrison cross into his own net in the 33rd minute.
United then squandered further chances to extend their lead and paid the price two minutes after the break when Charlie Mulgrew converted a penalty following Luke Ayling’s foul on him.
Rovers then looked destined to beat Leeds for the second time this season after Mulgrew’s 90th-minute free-kick squeezed past goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
The hosts levelled one minute later, though, when Kemar Roofe smashed home after a Pablo Hernandez strike was cleared off the line.
It was moving for all of us. In football you an have emotions which reach a peak and a high level. That’s why nothing is comparable to football regarding emotions.Marcelo Bielsa
Incredibly, the drama was still not complete with Roofe once again being in the right place at the right time to head home a cross from Hernandez in the 94th minute.
Roofe had also struck in the 95th-minute of Sunday’s clash at Villa and Leeds now hold a three-point lead at the top of the division.
That lead would have been four points but for another remarkable comeback at Carrow Road where second-placed Norwich City recovered from being 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Nottingham Forest courtesy of an amazing double-salvo from Onel Hernandez, who struck in the 94th and 98th minute.
Yet nothing could compare to events at Elland Road with head coach Bielsa admitting it was impossible not to be moved by the manner of his team’s victory.
“It was moving for all of us,” said Bielsa. “In football you an have emotions which reach a peak and a high level. That’s why nothing is comparable to football regarding emotions.”
Blackburn had the game’s best early chance in the 23rd minute when Jack Rodwell powered a low effort just wide. But, after Gjanni Alioski’s drive had been beaten away by goalkeeper David Raya, Blackburn’s Williams diverted Harrison’s cross from the byline into his own net.
Alioski was then unlucky to see a curled effort crash back off the crossbar and Leeds were looking good until the complexion of the game changed when Ayling upended Mulgrew in the penalty box with the Rovers midfielder tucking the spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner.
Both sides then squandered opportunities to go 2-1 up but Blackburn looked destined to take all three points after Peacock-Farrell failed to deal with Mulgrew’s late free-kick from 25 yards out.
However, that was only the start of the late drama with Roofe’s follow-up attempt to a blocked Hernandez shot correctly adjudged to have crossed the line, his strike four minutes later then sealing a remarkable turnaround.
Bielsa felt the late drama obscured the fact Leeds were good value for their victory.
“When you change the destiny of the game in the last seconds, it’s a little bit unfair to define it like that,” he said. “We deserved to win the game in another manner.”
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling (Shackleton 69), Douglas, Jansson, Phillips, Harrison (Clarke 60), Klich, Alioski, Hernandez, Forshaw, Roofe. Unused substitutes: Huffer, Halme, Davis, Gotts, Baker.
Blackburn Rovers: Raya, Nyambe (Reed 62), Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams, Rodwell (Smallwood 69), Evans, Bell, Dack, Armstrong (Rothwell 75), Graham. Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Nuttall, Downing, Palmer.
Referee: Stephen Martin.