GET IN, STU BEAUTY!
Dallas shocks Pep’s ‘champions-elect’ with double strike for Bielsa’s 10 men
AS UNSUNG heroes go, Stuart Dallas is up there with the best of them.
A player who always puts in a shift and is happy to sacrifice himself for the team, the Northern Irishman is a manager’s dream.
But at the Etihad yesterday the midfielder had an unexpected moment of glory that stretched far beyond Leeds and the Premier League – with two goals that stopped Manchester City in their tracks.
It gave Leeds – down to 10 men for 50 long minutes after a red card for reckless skipper Liam Cooper – a momentous victory.
And Dallas was delighted:
“It is a great result for us. It was tough out there.
“Against City, it is hard enough with 11, never mind 10, but we defended really well and kept them to very few good chances.
“We knew if we could have more composure, we could get one chance and I managed to get on the end of one. I saw it opening up.
“Against these teams, you don’t get chances, so you need to be clinical. I think I took one touch and closed my eyes.
“We came with a game plan, we always have, but, going down to 10 men, that changes. We are man to man, so that changes.
“We dug in and showed a different side to us. Our defending has been criticised but we stood up.” But, as City turn their attentions to a crucial Champions League quarterfinal against Borussia Dortmund, Pep Guardiola was left reflecting on the heavy price he paid for leaving Kevin De Bruyne, Phil
Foden, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez on the bench.
This was only City’s third home defeat of the season – but brave Leeds deserved all three points for overcoming huge odds to snatch victory in injury time.
Victory for Leeds just goes to show that even a great side like City can be vulnerable when faced with a team who match ability to desire and belief.
Marcelo Bielsa’s stars were penned around their own box for almost the entire second half as they clung to a 42nd-minute goal by Dallas and it seemed inevitable City would find a way to win – as they usually do.
Not this time, though. City started full of energy and intent. But, as chances came and went, with some woeful finishing by off-form Raheem Sterling, Leeds sensed City might be vulnerable in the middle of two massive Euro games against Dortmund.
Five minutes before the break, Helder Costa chased a ball punted over City full-back Joao Cancelo.
The defender has been a big performer this season, but he made a mistake not attacking the ball.
Costa fed a pass inside to Patrick Bamford, who moved it into the path of Dallas to fire a low drive in off Ederson’s right-hand post.
Leeds were in dreamland – but their joy didn’t last long.
Cooper had organised his defence with calm and efficiency, but he lost his cool
Against these teams, you don’t get chances, so you need to be clinical. I think I took one touch and closed my eyes.
with a shocking 45th-minute tackle on Gabriel Jesus with a follow-through which hurt the Brazilian and could have done serious damage.
Initially, Andre Marriner showed yellow before consulting his pitch-side monitor and rightly changing it to red for Cooper. That changed the dynamic of the game completely with Leeds forced to defend for their lives in what looked like a training exercise of attack v defence for Guardiola’s stars.
It seemed Leeds would eventually buckle, but Bielsa’s men stayed strong.
Diego Llorente, Luke Ayling , Kalvin Phillips and substitutes Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk were all magnificent – keeper Illan Meslier, too.
They couldn’t stop Ferran Torres grabbing an equaliser, after slick play by Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva.
But they weren’t prepared to surrender and Raphinha almost scored on a breakaway five minutes from time with Ederson making a crucial save.
Deep in injury time, though, there was nothing the
City keeper could do to stop
Dallas scoring his seventh of the season as Ezgjan Alioski played him through for a wonderful, assured finish.