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SPORTS | 29-04-2019 13:42

Bielsa praised after telling Leeds to allow Villa to score uncontested goal

Leeds United manager instructs team to allow an opponent to score amid extraordinary scenes in a key second-tier match in England.

'El loco' Bielsa is winning praise in England, as his colourful season in the Championship continues.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa instructed his team to allow an opponent to score an uncontested goal amid extraordinary scenes in a key second-tier match in England on Sunday. However, the Argentine coach was far from serene, after finding himself caught in the middle of a heated argument that at one point looked like it might come to blows.

The Yorkshire club scored the opening goal against Aston Villa in its League Championship game while Villa had a man down injured. Leeds' decision to not kick the ball out of play before the goal — to allow treatment for the player — sparked a series of on-field melees, during which Villa had Anwar El Ghazi sent off for violent conduct, bringing the visiting club's record 10-game winning streak came to an end.

Bielsa then told his players to let Villa equalise, leading to the bizarre sight of Albert Adomah running from halfway through the Leeds team and scoring into an empty net. Only defender Pontus Jansson tried to stop Adomah, attempting a swipe at the ball but missing it.

Bielsa then argued with Villa assistant manager John Terry, the former Chelsea captain, on the touchline.

The match finished 1-1, officially ending Leeds' hopes of automatic promotion and putting the team into the play-offs. Instead, Sheffield United joined Norwich in getting promoted.

"The facts are those which everyone could see," Bielsa said.

"What happened, happened. And we behaved as we behaved," Bielsa said. "That's all I can say about something which is very clear."

Asked if he had instructed his players to allow Villa's equaliser in the interests of fair play or simply to help restore order, Bielsa said: "I don't understand the difference. I don't see any difference ... You make a difference between fair play and the circumstances of the game, but for me it's the same.

"English football is known around the world for its noble features of how we play."

Play-off place

The result confirms Sheffield United's promotion to the top tier, with Leeds falling five points behind the Blades with just one game remaining.

Bielsa has had a typically colourful season in England. Hopes were initially raised, but Leeds' thin squad has cost the club dear in recent weeks.

The veteran manager's understanding of fair play was called into question earlier this season by Derby boss Frank Lampard – a former Chelsea and England team-mate of Terry – after it emerged Bielsa had been sending scouts to 'spy' on rival clubs' training sessions.

Leeds could now face Villa again in the play-offs, when Bielsa's men will have to rouse themselves from the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion.

Sheffield United had already realistically secured their spot back in the top-flight with a 2-0 win over Ipswich on Saturday thanks to their much superior goal difference.

"It's just a fabulous experience. We've taken the knocks and we've come roaring back," said United boss Chris Wilder.

"Fourteen points over seven games at the back end of the season with one defeat in 13 at the business end of the season and people still question whether we are going to fall away.

"We've just kept our heads down and answered it in the right way, which is on the green bit."

- TIMES/AP/AFP

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