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Match Report: Leeds United 1-1 Aston Villa - Chaotic Elland Road clash ends all square
Sunday, 28th Apr 2019 21:06 by @LucasMonk99

Leeds United’s hopes of automatic promotion from the Championship are now officially over after a bizarre draw with Aston Villa.

A closely-fought and competitive and chaotic encounter saw no end of controversy, and will live long in the memory owing to the fallout that ensued after Mateusz Klich’s 72nd minute opener.

With Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia reeling on the floor, Leeds opted to play on. Tyler Roberts, despite looking as though he was going to kick the ball into touch, instead passed to Klich, who burst into the box and produced a good finish. This sparked an altercation involving a melee of players. Villa’s Conor Hourihane appeared to punch Klich before Anwar El Ghazi was erroneously sent off after he appeared to strike Patrick Bamford.

Remarkably, United head coach Marcelo Bielsa then instructed his side to allow Villa to score an equaliser. Substitute Albert Adomah rolled the ball into the net, but not before an outraged Pontus Jansson attempted to prevent him from doing so.

Leeds applied copious pressure throughout the remainder of the match, and should probably have claimed all three points, but they had to settle for a draw in their final home match of the regular season, one that confirmed Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League.

Given that both sides had little to play for, it was surprising that this match was as tempestuous as it was. Jack Grealish’s obscene predilection for making a meal of even the faintest contact hardly endeared him to the home side, and the febrile nature of the game was encapsulated by the normally equanimous Bielsa receiving a yellow card for his protestations.

Clear-cut opportunities were at a premium in the first period. Andre Green, Kodjia and Tyrone Mings all came close with headed attempts for Villa, whilst Jack Harrison fluffed a shot into Steer’s arms from close range before having another blocked. Shots from distance were the order of the day for United, with Klich, Adam Forshaw and Stuart Dallas all going close before referee Stuart Attwell, who had already incensed the home crowd with several dubious decisions, unwisely called time on the half just as Luke Ayling had surged into the opposing penalty area.

The second half saw a frenetic start. Five minutes into it, and with the Villa defence retreating, Forshaw advanced toward goal before sending a fierce strike just wide of the post. Kodjia then controlled Elmohamady’s cross inside the box, but blazed his shot well over the bar.

The match had been simmering for some time before Leeds, with Villa’s Kodjia on the floor, broke and took the lead through Klich on 72 minutes. As mentioned earlier, the ensuing brawl saw Bamford and Hourihane cautioned and El Ghazi sent off.

United - save for Jansson - then allowed the visitors to score one of the most facile goals in the history of the sport, with Adomah rolling the ball past Kiko Casilla into an unguarded net.

Bielsa’s side then set about restoring their lead, and came desperately close to doing so on several occasions. Ayling headed over from Gaetano Berardi’s cross. Mings then blocked Roberts’s shot on the line following a corner. Steer then produced the save of his career to deny Pablo Hernandez as Villa held on to claim a point.

Leeds will reflect positively upon what was a much-improved showing ahead of their last game of the regular season away to Ipswich Town next week. That they held the division’s in-form team - Aston Villa had won their last 10 matches in succession - to a draw was no small feat. Klich's all-action display and Kalvin Phillips's marking Grealish out of the match, forcing him to resort to pathetic play-acting, were the clear highlights. Unfortunately, the match was chock-full of controversy, which will overshadow what was a good performance from United, who more than merited their point.

Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Dallas (Berardi 46’); Phillips; Hernandez, Forshaw, Klich, Harrison (Roberts 46’); Bamford.

Unused Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Shackleton, Bogusz, Brown, Clarke.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Steer; Mohamady, Tuanzebe, Mings, Taylor; McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish (Whelan 90+1’); Green (Adomah 69’), Kodjia (Jedinak 79’), El Ghazi.

Unused Subs: Sarkic, Hutton, Bjarnarson, Lansbury.

Match Details

Referee: Stuart Attwell.

Booked: Cooper, Hernandez, Klich, Bamford (Leeds). Hourihane, McGinn (Villa).

Sent off: El Ghazi (Villa).

Attendance: 36,786.

Man of the match: Mateusz Klich (Leeds).

Photo: Action Images

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