Leeds United’s hope of automatic promotion to the Premier League was crushed after a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa in a controversial match at Elland Road last weekend.
During the second half, Jonathan Kodjia was on the floor following a challenge from Whites defender Liam Cooper.
It looked like Tyler Roberts was all set to kick the ball out, but he made a forward pass to Mateusz Klich, who then went on to score in the 72nd minute.
This incident caused friction on the pitch between the players and in the aftermath, the referee gave Villa’s Ahmed El Ghazi a red card for allegedly striking Patrick Bamford in the face, even though there was no contact.
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa then urged his players to not challenge the opposition players and allow Aston Villa to score an equaliser.
Villa sporting director Jesús García Pitarch and Leeds United’s Victor Orta have spoken to Spanish newspaper AS to give their thoughts on the controversial match.
“It is something difficult to watch and seen less of in professional football. But as Bielsa himself explained, England promotes values that must be respected,” explained García Pitarch.
“About ten minutes before [the incident], right in front of the Leeds bench, [Aston Villa’s Conor] Hourihane threw the ball away even though we had a very clear counterattack. That play, which happened a few metres away from Bielsa, could have influenced him later.
“The game took more than ten minutes to resume. I listened to how Bielsa told his players not to do anything after we kicked off. I was listening to him and saying: ‘Will he be capable?’ And he was.”
Regarding the whole incident, Orta said, “I absolutely and unconditionally support the decision of my coach. I understand the play as he interpreted it. I am little suspicious and I always celebrate the goals, but I did not celebrate [goal against Villa] when it happened.
“For me there was a key moment in which our player stops and generates doubt whether he will throw the ball away. That doubt is what generated the goal because the other players stay still. Therefore, I support the decision adopted by my coach at all costs.”
García Pitarch further went on to praise the Leeds United boss.
He said, “The fans, including Leeds’, understood it as something normal and applauded it. After the game I went down to the dressing room to talk to Bielsa and congratulated him personally. He is a tremendous and positive football character.”