Marcelo Bielsa ordered Leeds United to concede goal to Aston Villa because of English football’s ‘noble features’

LEEDS UNITED head coach Marcelo Bielsa believes it was only right that sportsmanship should prevail after allowing Aston Villa to equalise unchallenged in a stormy clash between the two play-off hopefuls.

Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks on from the sidelines as his side drew with Aston Villa (Picture: Tony Johnson).

The Argentinian ordered his players to step aside and let Albert Adomah score straight from the kick-off after Leeds had taken a controversial lead.

Mateusz Klich had broken the deadlock 18 minutes from time, but only after Villa had stopped playing in the belief Tyler Roberts was about to kick the ball out for Jonathan Kodija to receive treatment.

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Instead Roberts, having initially slowed down next to the touchline, passed to Klich, who cut inside Axel Tuanzebe before curling a shot beyond goalkeeper Jed Steer.

Villa were incensed and players from both sides squared up to each other in a melee that ended with Anwar El Ghazi being dismissed for a clash with Patrick Bamford that involved no meaningful contact between them.

“We gave it back,” said Bielsa. “We express our interpretation of the facts by doing what we did. English football is known for sportsmanship, so I don’t have to comment on this kind of thing.

“What happened, happened, and we behaved as we behaved.”

Pressed on whether he had taken the decision in the interests of fair play or purely to calm the situation down, Bielsa said: “I don’t understand the difference.

“You make a difference between fair play and the circumstances of the game, but for me it is the same. English football is known around the world for its noble features.”

Villa manager Dean Smith expects El Ghazi’s red card to be rescinded after replays showed clearly there had been no contact between the Dutchman and Bamford.

On Bielsa’s gesture to allow Adomah to equalise, Smith added: “Common sense prevailed. Klich apologised to me coming off the pitch, saying things like that should not happen.”

Match report: Page 2