Marcelo Bielsa says Leeds United's golden hour of football deserved a point but defending cost them

Marcelo Bielsa said that Leeds United were the better team for 60 minutes against West Ham United and should have taken a point, but that half-an-hour of poor defending condemned them to defeat.

MIXED FEELINGS: Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa, second from the right
MIXED FEELINGS: Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa, second from the right

It was hard to argue with the coach's assessment of a game which saw Jesse Lingard convert the loose ball after his saved penalty and Craig Dawson score from a corner and hit the post from another.

But as Bielsa pointed out, Leeds created good chances either side of that with two early goals chalked off for very narrow but apparently correct decisions, and a welter of opportunities missed or saved after the break.

“The initial 15 minutes of the first half was the best we played in the game – we defended well and attacked well but for the final 30 minutes of the first half we stopped defending well and it's difficult to attack when you don't defend well.

“We attacked and defended well for the whole second half.

“Between the first half and second half we had 60 minutes of good football but their attack created danger and they managed to score two goals.

“I think we were more dominant in our 60-minute period than they were in their 30-minute period but we are a team that needs to defend well because if we do not defend well, we lose the balance.

“In the second half I think we could have drawn the game. At the start of the first half we should have scored a goal.

“After the 30 minutes it was different for us to neutralise them but if you look at the totality of the game, I think we deserved to get something out of them.”

Trying to explain what went wrong in the second quarter of the game, Bielsa said: “Their attackers receive the ball into feet and not into space. We tried to anticipate them and this worked for an hour of the game but in the final 30 minutes of the first half we didn't arrive on time to avoid them turning. Once they managed to turn they had a combination play that was difficult for us to neutralise.

“When we had to come back into a game, the team is very rebellious, they have a lot of intensity and this on occasion unbalances us but I can't give you a convincing answer because there was an hour of the game where we didn't have those difficulties.

“It also depends a lot on how we lose the ball because when we lose the ball in the final third it's easier for us to defend.

“If we lose the ball before we get to the final third on occasion, we can become unbalanced. It was resolved in those 60 minutes (at either end of the game).”

Pascal Struijk Pablo Hernandez and Kiko Casilla were all missing from the Leeds bench on a night when Kalvin Phillips returned from injury in the starting XI, Rodrgio from the bench. Only two of them was due to injury.

“Hernandez had a muscular problem; Pascal hasn't recovered from a knock which prevented him from being in this game; Cassilla was a decision that I made to include (Elia) Caprille on the bench, Casilla was not injured.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.