Bielsa praises Leeds effort to hold Man City

LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – Marcelo Bielsa hailed Leeds for pushing their limits to hold Manchester City to a pulsating 1-1 draw and deal another early blow to the visitors’ Premier League title chances.

City were soundly beaten 5-2 at home by Leicester last weekend and seemed keen to make amends with a dominant start, during which Raheem Sterling opened the scoring.

However, despite handing a debut to GBP62 million centre-back Ruben Dias, Pep Guardiola’s men remained unsure in defence and Bielsa’s men levelled when Rodrigo pounced on an error from goalkeeper Ederson just before the hour mark.

A first meeting between Pep Guardiola and Bielsa in English football was highly-anticipated and did not disappoint in a thrilling game that somehow ended with only two goals despite a combined 35 efforts on goal.

“For them to be superior to us is pretty easy for them, it doesn’t require much effort, whereas for us it requires us to go to the limit to be on their level,” said Bielsa.

City could now find themselves eight points behind Liverpool by the end of the weekend should Jurgen Klopp’s men maintain their perfect start at Aston Villa.

“It was good,” said Guardiola. “(It shows) When both teams want to attack.”

City’s start to the season has been disrupted by injuries to strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, plus a number of positive coronavirus cases.

But Guardiola said that should not be used as an excuse for dropping five points in two games.

“The team with the situation we have with our pre-season, with a lot of players out, they show an incredible behaviour. Unfortunately we could not win but we move on form here.”

Guardiola’s men started with intent to quieten their critics as they pounced on Bielsa’s determination for his side to play out from the back by forcing the hosts into mistakes with an intense press.

Kevin De Bruyne smashed an early free-kick off the post before Ferran Torres had a shot blocked on the line.

City’s pressure was finally rewarded in the opener as Sterling cut inside before burying a low shot into the far corner on 17 minutes.

However, Leeds composed themselves as the first-half wore on and City’s energy levels dipped.

“We make an incredible 30 minutes and when we could not score the goals, we knew this is team that is there until the final whistle,” added Guardiola.