|Swansea City 2 v 2 Leeds United|
Tuesday, 21st August 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Match Report: Swansea City 2-2 Leeds United - Bielsa's Whites march on with creditable draw
Wednesday, 22nd Aug 2018 09:07 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United preserved their unbeaten status under Marcelo Bielsa as they roared back on two occasions after going behind to hold recently relegated Swansea City to a draw.
In a pulsating contest at the Liberty Stadium, Leeds United were able to claim a hard-fought draw against Swansea City despite the absences of central defenders Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson.
Oliver McBurnie twice gave the hosts the advantage, but Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez were on target for the visitors, who are now at the pinnacle of the Championship league standings.
United head coach Marcelo Bielsa had provisionally named an unchanged lineup from that which vanquished Rotherham at the weekend, but a late injury to Cooper in the warm-up occasioned the surprise inclusion of 18-year-old Jamie Shackleton at right-back, with Luke Ayling moving into central defence to partner Gaetano Berardi.
And the Whites certainly got off to a difficult start.
After a slipshod opening 20 minutes in which they struggled to retain possession and fashion goalscoring opportunities as they had done in recent matches, Leeds deservedly fell behind in the 24th minute - with a devastatingly expeditious break their undoing.
Swansea’s Leroy Fer broke up a United attack before releasing Barry McKay, who in turn surged forward before finding the feet of Bersant Celina, who then fed the ball inside to Oliver McBurnie, whose prodded effort squirmed past Bailey Peacock-Farrell and into the net.
Kalvin Phillips was the unfortunate man who relinquished possession in the build-up to that goal, and he was soon withdrawn by Bielsa having performed poorly and having picked up a yellow card. Lewis Baker took his place.
The change soon paid dividends.
Leeds were veritably second-best in a first period of few chances, but a second Swansea goal was not forthcoming and they were soon level after gradually gaining momentum.
After receiving possession from Baker on the right, Jamie Shackleton darted into the penalty area before crossing for Kemar Roofe, who was left with a trouble-free tap-in that saw the sides go in level at the break.
But the visitors would not be allowed to enjoy parity for long.
No fewer than six minutes of the second half had elapsed before McBurnie was given the freedom of Swansea to send a deftly-executed header beyond the helpless Peacock-Farrell and into the net after Marcus Olsson’s excellent cross from the left.
United then had to weather a storm, and were perhaps fortunate not to have fallen further behind as they weathered it.
Mackay sent a scorching strike whistling just over the bar before a low strike by McBurnie elicited a smart save from Peacock-Farrell.
And that save would prove invaluable.
On 79 minutes, Mateusz Klich’s threaded pass down the left channel found Patrick Bamford, who spun away from his marker before displaying great acuity in crossing for erstwhile Swan Pablo Hernandez to coolly guide to the ball into the bottom corner to pull Leeds level and salvage a point.
There would remain time for Bersant Celina to perforate United’s defensive lines and draw another stupendous save from Peacock-Farrell, who denied the Kosovan with his legs, but Hernandez’s equaliser ensured that the spoils were shared.
Summary: Bielsa rewarded for bravery and obduracy
This was a pulsating match played in febrile circumstances, and in such circumstances, managers are often confronted with difficult choices.
Marcelo Bielsa did not shirk the responsibility, and his withdrawal of Kalvin Phillips brought stability to a forlorn United midfield - whose endeavours had hiterto been utterly fruitless - as the Argentine stood steadfastly by his principles whilst changing personnel.
What, also, about his decision to include Jamie Shackleton, who performed assiduously and admirably and assisted Kemar Roofe’s first-half tap-in?
Whilst Leeds’s performance may have been something of a curate’s egg in this match, there is much optimism that can be taken from this encounter, and not least because Bielsa has proven himself willing to make the tough calls.
That, the performance of Shackleton and the sheer determination United exuded as they fought back to claim a draw against a team that competed in the Premier League last season all augur well for the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Mulder; Naughton, Hoorn, Rodon, Olsson (Asoro 83’); Fulton, Fer (Carroll 74’); Roberts, Celina, McKay (Montero 64’); McBurnie.
Unused Subs: Benda, James, Grimes, Dhanda.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Peacock-Farrell; Shackleton, Berardi, Ayling, Douglas; Phillips (Baker 28’); Hernandez, Saiz, Klich, Alioski (Harrison 46’); Roofe (Bamford 64’).
Unused Subs: Blackman, Pearce, Rey, Shaughnessy.
Match Statistics (Swansea / Leeds)
Shots: 12 / 8
On target: 4 / 3
Possession: 44% / 56%
Corners: 2 / 5
Fouls: 13 / 17
Referee: Andy Davies.
Booked: Phillips, Baker, Saiz, Roofe (Leeds).
Man of the match: Jamie Shackleton (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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