‘Sadness and disappointment’ for Marcelo Bielsa as Leeds United crash out of FA Cup

League Two Crawley Town deserved the goals they scored to oust Leeds United from the FA Cup, said Marcelo Bielsa.

Crawley player Ashley Nadesan celebrates his goal against Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme

The 3-0 defeat saddened and disappointed the Whites head coach, but he insisted he was not taken by surprise by what he saw from the EFL side.

Crawley held the Premier League side at bay in the first half, although Ian Poveda managed to force a save from Glenn Morris in the home goal and Rodrigo had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Peter Bankes.

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The second half was utter dominance, from the men in red, against a Leeds side that featured seven changes for kick-off and three half-time substitutions. Captain Liam Cooper’s comeback from injury lasted 45 minutes and he departed at the interval alongside Rodrigo and Pascal Struijk, allowing Under 23s Oliver Casey and Jack Jenkins to come on, with Jack Harrison going up front.

Dejected Leeds players at the final whistle. Picture by Simon Hulme

Crawley took the lead with a fine solo goal five minutes after the break, Nick Tsaroulla dancing away from two tackles and racing into the area to beat Kiko Casilla, before Ashley Nadesan’s shot crept through the Spanish keeper three minutes later.

A Jordan Tunnicliffe goal put the Red Devils in the fourth round.

Bielsa lamented his side’s inability to break down the Crawley defence.

“We couldn’t unbalance them when we attacked,” he said.

Marcelo Bielsa turns away as the Crawley management celebrate. Picture by Simon Hulme

“We had the ball for a long period of time but we couldn’t do much with it. In the first half we played better than the opponent and the game was played how we wanted it to be played, even if we didn’t create much danger.”

He admitted the second half belonged to John Yems’ side, who imposed their will and threatened to score further goals with channel balls that left Leeds scrambling to defend.

“In the second half the game was played how the opponents want to play and they did create danger to deserve the goals they scored,” said Bielsa.

“The result generates a lot of sadness and disappointment for us.

“It’s not a question of surprise, we know the characteristics of their players and the opponents, just like every other opponent.”

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