Leeds and Ipswich both knew their fate before Sunday’s regular season finale with the Whites only needing a point to finish third in the event of fourth-placed West Brom winning at Derby County.
As it was a 3-1 win for Derby, who Leeds will now face in the play-offs, meant United could not be overhauled for third yet there was no denying the disappointment of a defeat to an Ipswich side winning for only the fifth time this term.
United have only five days to lick their wounds before Saturday’s semi-final first leg at Derby, but Bielsa is backing his side to regather their stride quickly and seal promotion over the next three games. “(Sunday’s) performance is an accident. We’re going to forget it right now,” said Bielsa. I don’t ignore what happened, but I know that our team is not described by the game or the result.”
Leeds fell behind on the half hour when Flynn Downes converted after the Whites failed to clear Alan Judge’s free-kick, awarded after goalkeeper Kiko Casilla upended Collin Quaner to earn himself a yellow card.
United levelled on the stroke of half-time when Mateusz Klich slammed the ball home from Luke Ayling’s cut-back, but Ipswich went back ahead two minutes after the break with Bielsa’s men carved apart before Andre Dozzell slammed home.
With 14 minutes left Leeds again drew level when Stuart Dallas netted on the rebound after Kemar Roofe’s header hit the crossbar and Roofe was then brought down in the area by Ipswich captain Luke Chambers, who was shown a straight red card as the last man. Roofe lost his footing, sending the spot-kick spiralling over the bar, and Ipswich bagged a 90th minute winner when Casilla failed to gather a ball on the edge of the box leaving Quaner with a tap in.
“Losing the last game before the play-offs is not good,” said Bielsa.
“We have the same ambition as the other teams who are going to play in the play-offs. But we can’t say that the ambition is linked to the taste you have from the last game otherwise we would say that we would be describing a team with few chances.
“For the remaining three games the most important thing is character and personality and you don’t build personality after a positive performance and you don’t lose it after a negative performance.”
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Chambers, Nsiala, Kenlock, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes (Jackson 62), Dozzell, Judge, Quaner. Unused substitutes: Gerken, Harrison, Elder, Emmanuel, El Mizouni,Brown.
Leeds United: Casilla, Dallas, Cooper, Jansson, Ayling, Phillips, Klich, Forshaw (Clarke 61), Harrison, Hernandez, Roofe. Unused substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Edmondson, Shackleton, Gotts, Bogusz.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).