Fair result as weakened Leeds United team lose at Southampton
Marcelo Bielsa admitted it was not his usual Leeds United side's level of performance as they were poor in a 1-0 defeat at Southampton.
The Whites head coach did not want to make excuses, but Leeds were clearly missing too many injured stars with Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha, Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling, Junior Firpo and Robin Koch all unavailable for their trip south.
In their absence United hardly managed a shot in the 90 minutes, although they would have walked away with a point if Dan James had taken a great chance with only the home keeper to beat and had they not been caught with too many men upfield for Southampton's winner, scored by Armando Broja early in the second half.
Leeds boss Bielsa admitted it had been "a fair result".
He said: “We didn’t play well in any moment in the game.
“In the second half the game was more even, but the difference was in their favour in the first half.
“This justifies their win, even if they scored in the second half.
“Perhaps the goal was scored in the only minutes we were playing on an even keel with them.
“We tried to play the same as always with two wingers, two attackers through the middle and two full-backs who get forward.
“It was very difficult for us to recover the ball, it was difficult for us to provoke the opponent to make mistakes and it was difficult for us to stop them getting from defence to attack.”
Bielsa felt the Whites still had a strong enough side out on the pitch despite their six absentees.
He added: “It’s not common that we are missing six players, but the players who started the game were formed of players who usually play.
“We thought we could dominate and impose ourselves.
“Clearly this didn’t happen, to ignore the absentees wouldn’t be convenient or logical, but the players we counted on, as I said, were in conditions to play a more even game and take forward our style.”
Southampton quickly proved to be the dominant team in the first half with Leeds completely ineffective going forward.
Saints' first major threat came when Nathan Redmond fired wide from the edge of the area. Broja headed narrowly wide from a corner before Illan Meslier was forced to make a good save from Redmond's low 20-yard strike.
From the corner that followed Broja won the header again and Mohamed Elynoussi somehow failed to connect from a yard out at the back post, with the goal open.
Redmond was causing problems with his running with the ball while the hosts were not afraid to shoot from distance with Romain Perraud and Valentino Livramento hitting shots over.
With nothing coming back, Southampton threatened again when Perraud forced another save from Meslier.
United only managed one effort in the whole of the first half with Tyler Roberts sending a long range shot wide.
They looked to have started the second half better when Jack Harrison went on a lovely run past two home defenders, but his shot was deflected over and nothing came from the resulting corner.
More pressure followed as James made a threatening run into the box, but a loose pass by Mateusz Klich was seized upon by Southampton, who swiftly broke forward and had two against one as Redmond squared for Broja to score what proved the only goal of the game.
Elyounoussi came close to making it two with an angled shot that flashed just wide, but Leeds had their best chance of the match when James caught defender Mohammed Salisu napping as he chased Stuart Dallas's punt forward, but despite getting to the ball first he could only shoot wide past onrushing keeper Alex McCarthy.
Broja fired over as the hosts fashioned another chance and the result remained in the balance until the final whistle.
United, however, were unable to break down a home side determined to get their first win of the season and young substitutes Crysencio Summerville and Joe Gelhardt - on his first team debut - were unable to make an impact.
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Southampton: McCarthy, Livramento, Salisu, Bednarek, Perraud; Djenepo (S Armstrong 60), Romeu, Diallo, Elyounoussi; Redmond, Broja (Walcott 81).
Leeds: Meslier; Shackleton, Llorente, Cooper, Dallas; Struijk; James, Klich (Gelhardt 77), Roberts (Summerville 81), Harrison; Rodrigo (Forshaw 64).
Referee: David Coote.