Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa unhappy with ‘repeat performance’ in defeat to Birmingham

Marcelo Bielsa.Marcelo Bielsa.
Marcelo Bielsa.
Leeds United’s topsy turvy run continued as they followed what looked a massive win against Millwall with a potentially disastrous 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City.

Ex-manager Garry Monk was able to have the last laugh on his former employers as his Birmingham team have now done the double over the Whites and potentially single-handedly dealt the blows that could cost Leeds promotion.

With Sheffield United enjoying a 1-0 win in a difficult game at Preston the three-point swing went the Blades’ way this week and left Marcelo Bielsa’s men a point behind with a top two place out of their hands once again.

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As in the home game with Birmingham a domination of possession counted for nothing for Leeds as they failed to deliver quality final balls or were not sharp enough in front of goal.

Patrick Bamford - who has struggled in recent weeks - did fail to put away several good opportunities, hitting the woodwork with one of them, but a lack of cutting edge let the Whites down as it has so often since the turn of the year.

Deflated head coach Bielsa struggled to find much in the way of positives from the hugely disappointing game.

He said: “We could have drawn the game but we could have lost by more goals. We could have won the game too but in the moments when we took control we couldn’t make the most of our chances.

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“In attack we had a lot of time on the ball, but we didn’t create a lot of chances and we didn’t take advantage of the chances we did create. So the performance of the team was not very positive.

“What we saw today was a performance from the team which has been repeated sometimes this season.

“We we’re playing against team who give us the ball and space, but they scored and then they started to play a type of game which for us is hard to solve.

“In the first half of the second half we created danger. We didn’t score but we created chances. In the last 20 minutes we couldn’t create chances.”

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A goal just before the half-hour mark by Che Adams proved enough to give Birmingham all three points against a Leeds team showing just one change with Kiko Casilla back in goal after suspension.

With the hosts playing two strikers Bielsa went for a 3-3-1-3 formation and saw the pattern of the game quickly set with all the early attacking done by United, coming up against opponents with plenty of men behind the ball.

For all their possession it took until just before the 28th minute for Leeds to create their first real opening as Luke Ayling’s cross from the right was met by Bamford, but his half-volley sent the ball crashing against the post.

Within a minute Birmingham were ahead as Lukas Jutkiewicz’s stepover gave Adams time on the edge of the box to size his shot up and beat Casilla.

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Adams went close again soon after, but was denied by a fine save from Casilla.

At the other end Ezgjan Alioski fired a shot just wide and the half ended with the hosts narrowly ahead.

Birmingham were content to keep playing on the break in the second half and came close to a second goal when Jutkiewicz burst through only for Casilla to quickly come out to prevent the striker’s effort.

United went on to enjoy their best spell of the game, but Bamford - who was unable to penalty away in the previous game - continued his woeful run in front of goal when he somehow managed to shoot over from close range from a cross by substitute Stuart Dallas.

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Bamford then saw a header saved by home keeper Lee Camp before being taken off for Kemar Roofe, who was back in the squad after injury.

Roofe was unable to make any impact as good defending saw the game out for the home team and they had the best chance in the closing stages, Adams being denied by Casilla.

Bielsa now has a big job to raise the morale of his players for their next game at Preston when they must match Sheffield United’s result there if they are to effectively maintain their top two bid.

Match facts

Birmingham City 1

(Adams 29)

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 24,197

Birmingham: Camp, Colin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen, G Gardner (Davis 45), Kieftenbeld (Harding 57), Maghoma, Mahoney (Jota 76), Adams, Jutkiewicz.

Leeds: Casilla, Jansson, Phillips, Cooper, Ayling, Klich (Clarke 70), Alioski, Harrison (Dallas 45), Roberts, Hernandez, Bamford (Roofe 70).

Referee: Mike Dean