Marcelo Bielsa: Leeds United should have beaten Preston after recovering from shaky start

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They left it late to rescue a draw through Stuart Dallas's 89th minute deflected goal, but Leeds United fully deserved at least a point from their home game with promotion rivals Preston at Elland Road according to head coach Marcelo Bielsa

Bielsa admitted the Whites were second best initially as Preston's pressing game brought them a deserved early lead, but felt his side recovered to go on to dominate.

Once again he was left to bemoan missed chances as United made it three games without a win, but did not lose much ground in the Championship with only Brentford in the top nine winning.

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He said: "I was not happy with the first 20 minutes because when the strategy of an opponent is that they want to force you to have mistakes we needed to leave the match to develop without making mistakes, even if we cannot play well.

Equaliser: Stuart Dallas.Equaliser: Stuart Dallas.
Equaliser: Stuart Dallas.

"We tried to play well and we made some mistakes that allowed them to unbalance the match. We should have had more patience and maybe developed our play,

"We can explain what has happened, why [the mistakes] happened, I couldn't say.

"I felt we took control after their goal. It was a better display from then and we controlled 75 per cent of the game.

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"We had enough chances to win the game towards the end and we probably should have won it.

"I admire Preston for how they got at us in the first quarter of the game. They worked very hard to put us under pressure and close us down. We struggled to move the ball.

"We had to move it sideways a lot and when we lost the ball going across the line it created problems for ourselves."

Bielsa added: "The first four chances before they scored, they were linked with our mistakes in playing out. It is fair to recognise that they forced our mistakes. But we could have avoided them.

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"The Preston goal was special because it was the first time in those 20 minutes where we built a very dangerous chance. But we couldn't finish this chance. That was the first time that we broke the pressure of Preston. We had superiority in attack and we lost the ball in this situation in an unexpected way. What was dangerous for them became a goal against us.

"When we took the first step to try to begin to control the match, what we didn't expect then happened. But from then the team was the same as always."

Leeds looked horribly off the pace in the opening stages as they were hustled out of their stride by opponents who pressed high up the pitch, forcing many mistakes in attempts to build from the back.

Brad Potts had the first effort for the visitors after Kiko Casilla put Kalvin Phillips under pressure with a pass and when the ball went loose tried to make amends by charging out of his box to make a tackle. He got the ball, but only succeeded in diverting it to Potts, who's goalbound shot was then deflected wide by Phillips.

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Casilla had to make his first save to deny Tom Barkhuizen before Alan Browne shot wide after appearing to get away with a handball in the build-up.

It was all Preston and David Nugent got on the end of a Barkhuizen cross, but could not get enough power in his header.

Ironically after the early pressure was survived the visitors took the lead off a dangerous Leeds attack when Mateusz Klich was too slow in possession. After he lost the ball it was quickly played forward by Ben Pearson to Barkhuizen who set Browne up to fire past Casilla.

Potts fired wide soon after, but slowly but surely the tide began to turn with Preston not managing any more efforts on goal in the opening half.

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The first shot of note for the hosts came in the 27th minute when Ezgjan Alioski's shot was deflected just wide and a goal kick was given - one of many mistakes made by the poor officials.

Referee Darren Bond was particularly lenient with Pearson, who was lucky not to be sent off for the third time against Leeds as he made two dangerous fouls in the first half, was finally booked for another foul after the break and kicked out at Luke Ayling when the home player was on the floor.

United did show improved form towards the end of the half, but Ayling shot over and Alioski sent a header over and they did not manage an effort on target in the first 45 minutes.

The second half started poorly for them when the out of sorts Liam Cooper gave a Christmas present to Sean Maguire, but after being given the ball the Preston winger shot wide from the edge of the box when a cross looked the better option.

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Maguire got in behind later in the half only to shoot wide, but Leeds began to get on top with Dallas having one shot beaten away by keeper Declan Rudd and sending another effort well wide.

The introduction of Eddie Nketiah off the bench livened United up further and he was instantly involved in a good move with Helder Costa that led to Alioski wasting a golden opportunity when blazing over.

Nketiah then saw a smart header well saved low down by Rudd and Alioski went even closer with a terrific strike from the edge of the box that struck the post.

Rudd had to make another fine save as Leeds mounted some late pressure, doing well to keep out Alioski's header as the left-back got forward yet again.

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A goal finally came in the 89th minute when Ayling found Dallas on the edge of the area and the Northern Ireland international's shot found the net via a deflection off Ryan Ledson.

United surged forward for a winner, but it was not to be after Costa scuffed a shot wide.

Match facts

(Dallas 89)

Preston North End 1

(Browne 22)


Attendance: 35,638

Leeds: Casilla, Ayling, White, Cooper, Alioski. Phillips, Costa, Dallas, Klich, Harrison, Bamford (Nketiah 64).

Preston: Rudd, Clarke, Davies, Huntington, Hughes, Pearson, Browne, Maguire (Stockley 90+4), Potts, Barkhuizen (Harrop 90), Nugent (Ledson 69).

Referee: Darren Bond