Manchester City 1(Torres 76)
Leeds United 2 (Dallas 42, 90+1)
I’m going to give up predicting scores! All logic said that Manchester City would have too much for us today, even factoring in a weakened City side as they inevitably rested some of their top men ready for the Champions League battle in Germany next week with the League title as good as already won. However, those few rested players looked like just enough of a change in the City quality to balance this game much more finely and we were on for one heck of a game once Stuart Dallas put us ahead. The red card made it look odds-on City would then press home their advantage but this Leeds side would not give it up! Wow, wow, and thrice wow!
The Premier League this season has thrown up many surprise results and this would have been right up there with the best had Leeds kept 11 on the pitch and won. To do so with only ten on the pitch is, well, I don’t have superlatives powerful enough to describe it! Loads of suitable expletives but not enough superlatives!
I often bemoan the fact that teams seldom get what they deserve in the game anymore, but for once, this result was truly deserved and justice was served. Not only for the way we dug in and defended for our lives but because once again we had been wronged by the officials, not once but several times throughout the game.
In the very first few minutes we probably should have seen City reduced to ten men as Sterling quite clearly trod firmly and needlessly on the ankle of a prone Leeds player . No VAR check on that one and not even a yellow card! It was a nasty action that looked cynical and opportunist and obviously very dangerous. Then, just before the break Liam Cooper hacks a ball away and inevitably his outstretched boot is going to make some contact with his opponent, Gabriel Jesus. The contact, may or may not have been serious, but there was certainly no intent, unlike Sterling earlier, and the referee on first viewing deemed it a yellow card which, on balance, I think most unbiased observers would probably agree with; although those same observers would surely consider the Sterling episode more dangerous and certainly more purposeful. But this time VAR does decide to intervene and the Coote in the Stockley Park box presumably deems it a dangerous challenge putting a player in danger of serious injury. As always, once the VAR ref has put his head above the parapet it’s then unlikely the on-field ref will say he’s wrong – after all, the bloke in the box has had loads of viewings and seen it in slow motion and, in any case, they are all protecting each other’s backsides! Off goes Coops and the biggest issue we all have with the game, a lack of consistency, shows it’s random hand again. Was this Coops challenge any worse than that of Baldock on Roberts last week?
But let’s celebrate the way Leeds came though the challenge the officials set us. A magnificent rearguard action that saw City reduced to long range shots and very little danger to Illan Meslier apart from yet another cynical stamp on his hand from that same player Sterling; once again no interest from either referee or VAR.
A look at the statistics at the top of this page shows how the game went and it would have been a miracle had City not found a way through. But for Leeds to have the running and cunning to break away and nick the game at the death is, quite simply, incredible. Raphinha had broken through the City defence just minutes earlier of course and could equally well have scored the crucial goal but Ederson got lucky with that one. He was much less lucky as Stuart Dallas showed his strength and determination and a cool finish to poke it between his legs seconds later!
We should remember too that Raphinha was through again towards the end, this time brought down by Fernandinho. Was he not the last man? Was Raphinha not through on goal? Was it not a goal scoring opportunity denied? At least it was a booking this time but I’ll bet you all we’ll see the same challenge declared as a red between now and the end of the season. Give us consistency, that’s all we really need.
So, only two shots all game for Leeds, but both on target and both ended up in the City net! That’s taking being clinical to extremes! But Leeds were better than the stats suggest; early in the game Bamford was only denied a simple tap in when John Stones got the merest touch on a low cross from Roberts and Raphinha pulled the ball back superbly at one point too, there being no Leeds player to take advantage. Add in those late break-aways and actually, Leeds probably had more good opportunities to score than City with their 29 so-called attempts.
I have no idea now how the games against Liverpool and Manchester United will go but one thing we can be certain of; we can no longer assume they will beat us!
This amazing season just gets better and better for Leeds and I am now wondering what we can achieve next season with a Leeds crowd back behind the team at Elland Road, a new pitch and just two or three more quality players sprinkled through the team; the sky is surely the limit!
Manchester City Leeds Utd
Possession 71% 29%
Shots 29 2
On Target 7 2
Corners 9 3
Fouls Committed 12 15