Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to allow Aston Villa to walk in a goal drew widespread praise on social media.
Former Argentina boss Bielsa ordered his team to let Villa score after Mateusz Klich had broken the deadlock in controversial circumstances in their Championship clash at Elland Road.
The most controversial goal of the season, bar NONE! 😲— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) April 28, 2019
Klich was played in by Tyler Roberts as, with Jonathan Kodjia down injured, the Villa players appeared to stop playing under the assumption Leeds would put the ball out for a throw-in.
A huge melee followed, in which Anwar El Ghazi was controversially sent off for a clash with Patrick Bamford, but Bielsa calmed the situation down by ordering his team to let Villa score.
Marcelo Bielsa. That is all.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) April 28, 2019
Fair play to Bielsa there. Nobody wants that kind of bad karma going into the playoffs I suppose! 😮— Bianca Westwood (@beewestwood) April 28, 2019
Well done Marcelo Bielsa .. the right thing to do. Fair play is more important – especially when it comes down to honour. #Leeds#LUFC#AstonVilla#Villa#EFL@EFL— Justin Allen (@justinallen1976) April 28, 2019
The draw confirmed Sheffield United would claim the second automatic promotion spot ahead of Leeds though, because of the Blades’ superior goal difference, that was all but certain anyway.
Now there is a chance Leeds and Villa could meet again in the play-offs at either the semi-final or final stage.
While many were impressed with the sportsmanship shown by Bielsa – who was criticised in some quarters for his role in the so-called Spygate controversy earlier this season – some were not convinced there was any need for Leeds to have gifted Villa the goal.
Why should #lufc have stopped when ref had not blown for injury to player? Ref’s job, otherwise players could feign injury to have play stopped. (Not saying Villa player did.) But Bielsa showed his class by defusing situation and gifting the goal.— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) April 28, 2019
Looked like that whole mess came from Villa assuming Leeds would stop playing, but why should they? Opposing striker down, not like he was going to be involved with defending that move. Just keep playing??— Justin Bryant (@Keepers_Union) April 28, 2019
Agree with Justin here. All this “cheating Leeds” rubbish. I don’t think I’ve ever liked them more than I do right now. Seems a bit rich JT lecturing Bielsa about cheating. https://t.co/4CesYfKMqU— David Preece (@davidpreece12) April 28, 2019
Honestly can’t see what Leeds have done wrong here. It’s Aston Villa’s choice to stop playing when Kodjia goes down – and it wasn’t a head injury so why would play be stopped? Their reaction to conceding is pathetic and the fact Leeds gave a goal back is ridiculous! #LEEAST#lufchttps://t.co/sYSHEqIVK7— David Munday (@DavidMunday815) April 28, 2019
Former Villa player Ian Taylor was among those praising Bielsa, though he described Bamford’s role in the incident as “embarrassing”.
Proud of the lads. Some spirit in this team! @OfficialTM_3 colossal at the back with Tuanzebe, but great team effort. Fair play to Bielsa for giving us the goal. Bamford though…… Red card definitely has to be rescinded! Embarrassing… 🙈 #UTV— Ian Taylor (@IanTaylor7) April 28, 2019
Bamford appeared to make the most of any contact in his altercation with El Ghazi, which saw the Villa man sent off.
Bamford should sign for Hollyoaks. What an embarrassment— Graeme Bandeira (@GraemeBandeira) April 28, 2019
There was also some sympathy though with Leeds defender Pontus Jansson, who tried, albeit half-heartedly, to stop Villa scoring despite the instructions from his manager.
I’m with Pontus Jansson— Andy Castell (@AJ3) April 28, 2019
At the end of it all some were just left hoping that the two teams will meet again in the play-off final.
Reckon after this game, if Leeds & Villa contest the playoff final at Wembley it will be a certifcate 18, box office ratings winner.— Mark Worrall (@gate17marco) April 28, 2019
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