Bielsa calls for Leeds to be more ruthless

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa has urged his Leeds side to learn to close games out better after they clung on to a 1-0 win against Birmingham at Elland Road.

Kalvin Phillips finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute before Jack Harrison and Ezgjan Alioski wasted chances to wrap the game up late on.

They nearly paid the price when Kristian Pederson headed narrowly over in stoppage time from a great position but they managed to mark their centenary with all three points.

Bielsa said: “It was a really important match for us to win.

“I am not happy with how we closed the game out. After we scored we could have finished the match and we gave them the ball and let them control the chances.

“We have one of the best first halves we have played. We started the second half with some doubt and after the goal we had three chances to finish the match and from then little by little we allowed the opponent to control the ball.

“When they have the ball they will have chances to score.

“Sometimes God put things in the right place. Phillips is playing at Leeds and now he will stay in the history of the club for this goal.

“We were very focused on the match. The team showed that throughout the match in every moment.

“It was difficult for us to score in the first half, but it was a great performance.

“I am proud to have this job at a club with such important history. The history of the club is very impressive and that increases the duty I have.”

Blues goalkeeper Lee Camp unconvincingly palmed an Alioski shot to safety after eight minutes as the home side enjoyed a good start.

Patrick Bamford flashed an effort narrowly wide after 28 minutes from a tight angle before Lukas Jutkiewicz fired off target during a rare Birmingham attack minutes later.

Helder Costa had a chance blocked by a lunging defender before Camp parried the ball to safety after Stuart Dallas pounced on the rebound after 38 minutes.

Fran Villalba Rodrigo wasn’t far away with a long distance effort on 51 minutes, before substitute Eddie Nketiah saw a long-range shot deflected straight to Camp.

But the deadlock was finally broken when Camp let a Phillips shot squirm under him after 65 minutes with Harrison and Alioski missing further chances.

Pederson came close to a last-gasp leveller but Blues left Yorkshire empty-handed.

Boss Pep Clotet felt his side had been unlucky.

He said: “Apart from the high possession that Leeds usually have, our team had more shots than then, it was very even numbers.

“We knew it would be a difficult match ahead against a team that has been so good for a year and a half.

“We could sit deep and defend our box or take the game to Leeds, that is the game we did and I think we deserved more.

“We could not turn a very good performance into a result. I saw a lot of positive points.

“The defensive transition of Leeds is very good and we managed that well. The one time we didn’t was when they scored and that one mistake has cost us.

“Sometimes you try and win a game and it goes against you. We took the game to Leeds and we are proud of that position.

“We came into the job looking to change the way we play as a club and we are being successful at that.

“We are in a league position which allows us to think forward and higher and I am proud of that.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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