Javi Gracia hails Leeds United's bravery and discipline as they follow the plan against Brighton and Hove Albion

Javi Gracia insisted his Leeds United players did take risks against Brighton and Hove Albion, just not in getting drawn into the pressing game the Seagulls wanted them to.

Despite twice going behind, the Whites did well to draw with a Brighton side who moved three points behind Liverpool in the Premier League with two games in hand.

But there were boos at times at Elland Road as fans got frustrated with the way their team went about it.

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When goalkeeper Jason Steele or centre-backs Lewis Dunk and Adam Wesbter had the ball, Leeds were usually content to stand off and force them to take the initiative, something they often took their time over. It annoyed a crowd who have got used to different high-intensity, high-pressing styles under Marcelo Bielsa and Jesse Marsch.

PLAN: Leeds United coach Javi Gracia discusses tactics with Zigor AranaldePLAN: Leeds United coach Javi Gracia discusses tactics with Zigor Aranalde
PLAN: Leeds United coach Javi Gracia discusses tactics with Zigor Aranalde

"I know what happens when you go to press the keeper against this team because I've seen many games," explained Gracia, who has taken four points from his two home games in charge.

"We prefer to wait for the right moment, to be compact in the middle knowing many times we have two-v-two with our centre-backs in a high position because (Alexis) Mac Allister and (Evan) Ferguson (Brighton's centre-forwards) dropped some metres and made Robin (Koch) and Max (Wober) go with them so we had two players open in midfield.

"We took risks but when it came to the keeper we decided not to press him from the goal-kick, for example.

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"They have many attacking options, many movements, moving their striker, their second forward, they drop some metres, they move their full-backs inside creating different options, they create many different lengths of passes and it is not easy to be well positioned to defend but we did it."I have to recognise they created chances but we did well as well. It was an open game, maybe even more so in the second half.

"There were clear chances for both teams."

Gracia praised his players for holding their nerve and sticking to the plan in the face of crowd dissatisfaction, and for their responses to twice going behind.

"When you are losing it is even harder," said Gracia of the way his team followed the plan. "But pressing this way we were able to recover good balls and if we were more clinical, maybe we could have created some good chances as well.

"I decided it was the best way and the players believed in it. We worked on it all week.

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"Of course I would like to be more aggressive and press one-v-one but we took a high risk putting our two centre-backs in their half and going one-v-one with Luke Ayling on (Karou) Mitoma and Junior (Firpo) with Solly March.

"I think it was the best way to do it."

Mac Allister was unmarked to head Brighton in front after 33 minutes but Patrick Bamford responded, hitting a powerful shot in via a deflection and the crossbar to equalise before half-time.

Leeds started the second half well only to go behind to a Jack Harrison own goal, but the winger made amends by curling in from a short corner, taken so quickly there were briefly two balls on the pitch, something a Brighton team which had not organised fast enough complained in vain to referee Paul Tierney about.

Asked about the character his side showed, Gracia declared himself "very pleased because I think they deserve credit for following the plan.

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"They were twice behind and it's not easy playing at home to follow the plan and wait for the moments.

"I think they did many, many things well and deserved the reward of at least one point."

Despite the positives, wins for Bournemouth and Everton saw the Whites drop to 19th in the league with 12 games left but Southampton’s failure to beat 10-man Manchester United stopped them going bottom.