Nketiah gives Leeds edge while Bielsa plays down Bamford reaction
Marcelo Bielsa praised on-loan hitman Eddie Nketiah as “a complete player” after his latest strike helped Leeds return to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with victory at Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
Nketiah, on as a 70th-minute substitute for Patrick Bamford, made it four goals in six appearances since joining Leeds from Arsenal in the summer. The 20-year-old dispatched a side-foot volley from close range in the 84th minute and then won a penalty that was coolly converted by Mateusz Klich five minutes later.
In comparing Nketiah to Bamford, who appeared unhappy in being replaced and who was denied by fine saves from Brad Collins on three occasions, Bielsa said: “Eddie has different characteristics and in a match like that he is a good option.
“Some players are involved [in play] a lot before creating chances. Nketiah is more involved at the end of the action but he has good characteristics to combine with his team-mates to give these options.
“He is a striker who can score goals. For me, he is a complete player.”
Brushing aside Bamford’s reaction to being substituted, Bielsa added: “He puts in a lot of effort to be in a good condition to score and he had a lot of chances in this game.
“I tried to explain to him that he deserved a goal. He is a great centre forward.”
Bielsa felt “it was a match we deserved to win”, even though Leeds were indebted to goalkeeper Kiko Casilla for pulling off a number of superb saves to help lift them back to the top above Swansea on goal difference.
While Leeds have won six consecutive away matches in all competitions for only the third time in their history, previously doing so in 1931 and 1963, Barnsley are without a victory since the opening day of the season.
Yet manager Daniel Stendel was at least encouraged by a performance that showed the “passion” he had demanded beforehand but was missing the end product.
“I’m very proud of the players because we played as well as we can, creating so many chances against Leeds,” Stendel said.
“They were the better team but for our efforts we deserved a point. At least we are back to our style of play.”
With just four goals in eight matches this season, Stendel added: “It’s not enough. But with the attitude and the mentality we showed today, I’m sure we can change things.”
Loan spree: Eddie Nketiah’s goal was his fourth in six appearances since joining Leeds