September 22, 2020

Wenger hails Leeds’ Bielsa for sportsmanship in Villa draw

April 29, 2019
Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa’s sportsmanlike decision to allow Aston Villa to score unopposed in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Leeds has been hailed by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Wenger said that the incident was more remarkable given that promotion to the Premier League was at stake for the Championship club.

Leeds, who are looking to secure promotion to the Premier League, netted the opener through Mateusz Klich in controversial circumstances as Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia lay injured on the pitch, sparking a melee.

Villa’s Anwar Al Ghazi was sent off for his role in the ensuing protests after which Bielsa asked his players to allow the visitors to score unchallenged when the game was restarted.

“It is a remarkable gesture. They are playing to come up to the Premier League and there is something at stake… the whole world has to watch that,” Wenger, who left Arsenal in May, 2018 after 22 years in charge, told beIN Sports.

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The draw meant that second-placed Sheffield United joined leaders Norwich City in earning promotion to the top flight while third-placed Leeds’ hopes lie in winning the Championship playoffs, with West Bromwich Albion and Villa also involved.

The fourth and final spot is yet to be decided with Derby County, Middlesbrough and Bristol City all in contention.

Wenger said Villa had erred by taking their foot off the gas with a player down injured and expecting Leeds to kick the ball out of play.

“Only the referee can stop the game. Villa should not have stopped to play. Leeds took advantage of it and that is where they were guilty,” the Frenchman added.

“It is a kind of fair play that is usually on the football pitch. Only the ref can stop the game but it is remarkable from Bielsa.”

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