Marcelo Bielsa the grandmaster as basketball turns to chess for Leeds United

Leeds United went toe-to-toe with Leicester City and looked like they might win, so Brendan Rodgers closed things up and they did.
BLOCK: Ezgjan Alioski gets in Marc Albrighton's wayBLOCK: Ezgjan Alioski gets in Marc Albrighton's way
BLOCK: Ezgjan Alioski gets in Marc Albrighton's way

Marcelo Bielsa won the tactical battle in the east Midlands, and his team won the game 3-1.

Rodgers does not like basketball, warning his side – not for the first time – that is what the Whites would turn the game into given half the chance, then watching his prediction come true. So in the second half he opted for chess instead, and saw the visitors score two decisive goals on the counter-attack.

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Little more than a minute separated goals for Harvey Barnes and Stuart Dallas, and a little over half an our in, both sides had had goals chalked off for offside. Kasper Schmeichel made two good saves, Illan Meslier one, and both sides lost a player to injury.

They were 45 minutes you could not take your eyes off. The next 45 were cagier, but even more enjoyable for those of a Leeds persuasion.

Leeds were prepared to go from a little bit more direct, particularly down the inside-right channel that was Jonny Evans's domain, and looked good for it, but they were behind after only 13 minutes.

Former Barnsley loanee Harvey Barnes picked the ball up on the halfway line and made a diagonal run to the right-hand side of Leeds's penalty area, where he exchanged passes with James Maddison before stroking the ball beyond Meslier.

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The Whites' response was instant, Luke Ayling intercepting Maddison's attempted pass to Barnes and going straight into Bamford, running into the corridor of Leicester uncertainty. His pass to Dallas was excellent, and the finish much like the goal it cancelled out. It was Bielsaball at its best.

Ayoze Perez thought he had restored the lead only five minutes later, only for Sian Massey-Ellis to raise her flag and Leeds would soon suffer similar frustration.

Mateusz Klich was introduced early when Rodrgio succumbed to what looked like a groin strain and quickly got with the programme, playing an excellent long pass for Jack Harrison to volley. Schmeichel made a good save to give his old side a corner and when he kept Bamford's header out from it, Klich's into the net came from an offside position.

Raphinha, now Leeds's only Premier League signing on the pitch, was also denied by a low save.

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Part of the entertainment of Bielsa's side – for the neutrals, if not his own supporters – is that they give the opposition a chance too, and Perez, leading the line in the absence of the injured Jamie Vardy, got a faint touch to a Marc Albrighton cross to force a save.

Rodgers had seen enough, taking Albrighton off at the break for Caglar Soyuncu to come on as a third central defender. With Maddison nominally on the right of a 3-4-3 but with licence to roam, Dallas was detailed to man-mark the England international, effectively taking him out the Leeds midfield and leaving Ezgjan Alioksi in what looked a slightly no-man's land position.

It worked a treat, although for a long time it looked as though it might not.

The third quarter of the game, to use basketball terminology, was all Leicester.

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Liam Cooper made a brilliant block from James Justin, Ricardo Periera's shot did not match the turn which created it, Meslier saved from Youri Tielemans – in too much space for Leeds comfort.

Then, in the 71st minute, Raphinha played Bamford through, played onside by Evans, and the finish was magnificent.

Leicester came again, Evans poking wide from a corner headed to him about a yard out by Soyuncu, and Meslier saving from Perez and Nampalys Mendy.

But then Dallas got a toe to a pass to release Bamford, who drew Schmeichel and unselfishly squared for Harrison to find the net.


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Leicester City: Schmeichel; Castagne (Ricardo 37), Fofana (Under 80), Evans, Justin; Mendy, Tielemans; Albrighton (Soyuncu 46), Maddison, Barnes; Perez.

Unused substitutes: Ward, Amartey, Fuchs, Thomas, Choudhury, Iheanacho.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Struijk, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha (Costa 80), Rodrigo (Klich 21), Dallas, Harrison; Bamford.

Unused substitutes: Casilla, Cresswell, Davis, Shackleton, Roberts, Hernandez, Poveda.

Referee: C Kavanagh (Manchester).

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