The Sunday Post (Newcastle)
Dallas’ double delight as Leeds’ 10 men stun City
MANCHESTER CITY 1 Torres (74) LEEDS UNITED 2 Dallas (42, 90+1)
Marcelo Bielsa felt his 10-man Leeds side deserved their victory over Manchester City – but would not have complained had they lost.
Stuart Dallas struck twice, including an injury-time winner, as Leeds overcame the first-half sending-off of captain Liam Cooper to win against the Premier League leaders at the Etihad Stadium.
City racked up 29 shots in a dominant display, but, after equalising through Ferran Torres after 76 minutes, could not make their superiority count and were punished by Dallas late on.
Leeds manager Bielsa said: “They dominated the game, the majority of the chances at goal were in their favour.
“But the result was deserved because of the character, personality, effort and fortitude from a mental and physical point of view.
“It is a little bit strange to say it – as it would have been fair for City to win – but we deserved to win.”
It was Leeds’ first victory over one of the established ‘big six’ clubs since their promotion back to the top flight.
It was also a notable first win for veteran Bielsa over City boss Pep Guardiola, but the 65-year-old Argentinian refused to take any of the credit.
He said: “That Leeds beat Man City doesn’t mean I imposed myself over their manager.
“Guardiola is the manager of the team Leeds beat, but I don’t consider anything on my part. I do think value belongs to the players for winning a difficult game.”
The dismissal of Cooper in the last minute of the first half for a bad challenge on Gabriel Jesus changed the nature of the game, forcing Leeds into second-half rearguard. Referee Andre Marriner initially showed a yellow card before revising his opinion after checking on the pitchside monitor.
Bielsa did not give a view on the incident. He said: “My opinion is not important because the referees are specialists and the tool of VAR helps them make the decision.”
Leeds played some neat football and did get behind the hosts’ defence on a couple of occasions early on, but failed to capitalise. Their best opening saw Tyler Roberts break into the box on the right, but his ball across goal was too far behind Patrick Bamford.
City gradually began to increase the tempo and Torres had a good effort brilliantly blocked by Cooper at point-blank range following a corner. Jesus’ follow-up attempt was also blocked. Raheem Sterling came more into the game, but was denied a penalty after the ball jumped up and caught Luke Ayling on the arm following a jinking run.
Sterling then blasted over before spurning an even better opportunity, dragging a firsttime shot horribly wide, after being teed up by a charging Fernandinho.
City were made to pay for that miss as Helder Costa broke down the left and passed inside to Bamford. Dallas then latched onto a lay-off on the edge of the area, hitting a firm low shot that left Ederson rooted to the spot as it rebounded in off the base of a post.
It was a lead that came against the run of play and Leeds’ hopes of hanging on to it almost suffered a blow as Cooper was dismissed for a bad challenge on Jesus.
City chased the equaliser in the second half with Oleksandr Zinchenko forcing a good save from Illan Meslier and Bernardo Silva volleying wide from close range. Ilkay Gundogan fired over and Fernandinho had a powerful effort palmed over by Meslier, who also saved from Joao Cancelo.
The equaliser finally came 15 minutes from time as Silva flicked the ball into the path of Torres and the Spaniard clipped it past Meslier.
City continued to press, but Leeds had the final say as Dallas broke clear and slid a fine finish through the legs of Ederson. It was Leeds’ first victory against one of the established ‘big six’ since their promotion.
Guardiola, whose quadruple-chasing side face Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final next Wednesday, made seven changes.
He denied selection was a major factor in the result. He said: “When you win you are a genius, when you lose you have to take it.
“I don’t have any regret about about the XI for selection because I trust a lot of them.
“Everyone was good, but it is difficult against Leeds because they are used to winning duels. You cannot let them run. You have to control it and we did not.”
The defeat was only City’s second in 29 games in all competitions, 27 of which have been won. They still need 11 points to wrap up their third title in the space of four years.
Guardiola said: “When you lose a game you realise how difficult it is, what we have done. We need points still as our opponent can win all the games.”