herald

Sunday 19 May 2019

Bielsa flips the wig' as Leeds falter

Norwich strike late to stay in front

Norwich's Marco Stiepermann celebrates scoring their first goal.
Norwich's Marco Stiepermann celebrates scoring their first goal.

Marcelo Bielsa says he has no explanation for Leeds' shock 2-1 home defeat to Wigan yesterday.

United were cruising to three crucial Championship points in the promotion race after Patrick Bamford gave them a 17th-minute lead.

The opener came just moments after Wigan's Cedric Kipre had been red-carded for handling a Bamford shot, with Pablo Hernandez missing the resulting penalty.

But ten-man Latics refused to buckle and Gavin Massey's brace turned the game around, meaning Leeds trail second-placed Sheffield United on goal difference with three games to go.

"There is no explanation why that happened," Leeds coach Bielsa said. "Destiny gave us a red card, a penalty and 15 chances to score. We simply should have won. The conditions were right for us to win the game.

"I take full responsibility for the defeat for not planning the right path to make sure that we did get the win.

"I am sad at this defeat, but I am very motivated. We have had a good season, but it will mean nothing if we do not get promoted.

"This provides the motivation for our next game on Monday at Brentford, we can only heal this wound by getting promoted."

Massey cancelled out Bamford's goal just after the break before completing a brilliant comeback when he poked home from Leon Clarke's knockdown on 62 minutes.

Wigan keeper Christian Walton made a number of good saves as the Latics gave their survival hopes a big boost. Thrilled Wigan boss Paul Cook said: "We're delighted to get the three points.

"When we had a man sent off and they have the penalty, the first thought was 'how much can we keep them down to?'.

"You would expect Leeds to win the game, but great credit to the players.''

Leaders Norwich were pegged back after going 1-0 up against Sheffield Wednesday and trailed 2-1 with half an hour to play.

Marco Stiepermann's long-range shot gave Norwich a 19th-minute lead. Fernando Forestieri equalised before half-time and Steven Fletcher's scrappy goal left Norwich needing another of their trademark late fightbacks to maintain their lead at the summit.

True to form, Norwich snatched an equaliser in the seventh minute of stoppage time. Mario Vrancic was fouled just outside the area stepped up to curl the free-kick into the top corner.

The result left the Canaries five points clear of both Sheffield United and Leeds with three games to play.

Second-half goals from Mark Duffy and Republic of Ireland international Enda Stevens saw Sheffield United beat 10-man Nottingham Forest 2-0 to give their hopes of finishing in the top two a much-needed boost.

United's cause was helped when Martin O'Neill's Forest had Yohan Benalouane sent off in the second half.

Dean Smith challenged his players to keep on winning after second-half goals from Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham gave Aston Villa a 2-0 victory that relegated Bolton to League One.

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