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Kiko’s a keeper – Bielsa backs Casilla despite blunder at Brentford

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa refused to blame under-fire goalkeeper Kiko Casilla despite the blunder which gifted Brentford their goal in the 1-1 draw at Griffin Park.

Casilla slipped and let Liam Cooper’s tame backpass roll under his foot, allowing Said Benrahma to tap home at the far post to give the Bees the lead.

It was an awful error from the former Real Madrid keeper, whose place in the side is already under scrutiny following some recent shaky performances.

Fortunately for the Spaniard, Cooper grabbed an equaliser to ensure Leeds clung on to their place in the automatic promotion spots.

“Kiko doesn’t need my words because I always support him and his decisions,” said Whites boss Bielsa.

“Because I know the human quality of the players of Leeds, I think he will receive support from his team-mates and not lose confidence.”

Nevertheless it was a welcome result for Bielsa, whose side have seen their 11-point advantage over third place evaporate in the last two months.

However, they will still find themselves outside the automatic promotion spots in 24 hours’ time if Fulham pick up a win at Millwall.

Leeds, with four defeats in their previous five matches, arrived in west London with a terrible history against the Bees having not won at Griffin Park since 1950, while their record in the capital this season reads: played four, lost four.

Also fresh in the memory was their defeat at Brentford, in their third last match of last season, which derailed that campaign’s promotion push.

The rot may not have stopped entirely but Cooper’s equaliser, after Brentford keeper David Raya flapped at a corner, could be the start of a Leeds revival.

Bielsa added: “We defended well, was difficult to attack for us even though we attacked all the match.

“The players left everything on the pitch. We controlled their attackers well, we managed the ball well, and this is not easy against a team like Brentford.”

In-form Brentford were looking for a third straight win, which would have taken them above Leeds, but their much-vaunted ‘BMW’ strike force of Benrahma, Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins failed to get out of first gear.

Boss Thomas Frank said: “One of the reasons for that is that Leeds do things very differently compared to any other team in the division.

“The way they press, constantly, man for man, going towards the man, that makes you have less time on the ball. That’s why we didn’t have the time to create enough.

“I think it was a fair result, maybe it was even a 0-0 game. There were very few chances.”