Andy Hampson, PA
Marcelo Bielsa felt his 10-man Leeds side deserved their victory over Manchester City on Saturday – but would not have complained had they lost.
Stuart Dallas struck twice, including an injury-time winner, as Leeds overcame the first-half sending-off of captain Liam Cooper to win 2-1 against the Premier League leaders at the Etihad Stadium.
City racked up 29 shots in a dominant display but, after equalising through Ferran Torres on 76 minutes, could not make their superiority count and were punished by Dallas late on.
💬 "We dug in and showed a different side. We stood up" Stuart talks to the media after today's 2-1 win pic.twitter.com/1kvwwIyE0P
— Leeds United (@LUFC) April 10, 2021
Leeds manager Bielsa said: “They dominated the game, the majority of the chances at goal were in their favour.
“But the result was deserved because of the character, personality, effort and fortitude from a mental and physical point of view.
“It is a little bit strange to say it – as it would have been fair for City to win – but we deserved to win.”
It was Leeds’ first victory over one of the established ‘big six’ clubs since their promotion back to the top flight.
It was also a notable first win for veteran Bielsa over City boss Pep Guardiola, but the 65-year-old Argentinian refused to take any of the credit.
He said: “That Leeds beat Man City doesn’t mean I imposed myself over their manager.
“Guardiola is the manager of the team Leeds beat but I don’t consider anything on my part.
“I do think value belongs to the players for winning a difficult game.”
The dismissal of Cooper in the last minute of the first half for a bad challenge on Gabriel Jesus changed the nature of the game, forcing Leeds into second-half rearguard.
Referee Andre Marriner initially showed a yellow card before revising his opinion after checking on the pitchside monitor.
Bielsa did not give a view on the incident.
He said: “I consider the English refereeing positive and valuable, and VAR is a resource that ends the doubts over a decision.
“My opinion is not important because the referees are specialists and the tool of VAR helps them make the decision.”
Guardiola, whose quadruple-chasing side face Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final next Wednesday, made seven changes.
He denied selection was a major factor in the result.
He said: “When you win you are a genius, when you lose you have to take it.
“I don’t have any regret about about the XI for selection because I trust a lot of them. If I didn’t trust them they would not play.
“Everyone was good but it is difficult against Leeds because they are used to winning duels. You cannot let them run. You have to control it and we did not.”
The defeat was only City’s second in 29 games in all competitions, 27 of which have been won. They still need 11 points to wrap up their third title in the space of four years.
Guardiola said: “When you lose a game you realise how difficult it is, what we have done so far.
“The Premier League must still be won. We need points still as our opponent can win all the games.
“Now we need to do it again. We have Aston Villa and then three of the next four games are like finals, in the Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup.
“We have incredible confidence in the guys and defeat is sometimes is necessary to understand how difficult it is.”