Marcelo Bielsa acknowledges part played by fans as Leeds United battle to draw with Wolves
It took some time, but Leeds United's fortune against Wolves finally changed in added time as they salvaged a point at home to the Midlands team.
A draw at home to what is likely to be a mid-table team in the Premier League would not normally be celebrated, but after the Whites were trailing for more than 80 minutes of their latest game it was cheered as if it was a win after it had looked like Wolves were going to continue to be a bogey team for them.
The visitors led from the tenth minute when Hwang Hee-Chan got in the way of a shot by teammate Raul Jimenez, but could not believe his luck as the ball stuck at his feet and he was able to score.
They rode their luck further as United mounted a second half onslaught, but just when it looked as if they were going to lose to this opposition for the third time since coming back into the Premier the Whites were awarded a late, late penalty after young substitute Joe Gelhardt's fantastic run into the box saw him go over under a push by Ki-Jana Hoever.
Up stepped Rodrigo to confidently put the spot kick away and send the fans home pleased that their side had something to show for their big efforts.
And Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa felt it was no less than his team deserved.
He said: Apart from the initial minutes in both halves, we controlled the game and we created not too many but a sufficient amount of chances to be able to win the game.
"It was a step forward, compared to the game last week, it was a performance without shine and this performance looked a lot more like what the team is capable of.
"Even so if we maintained from last week a series of players who are not present the feeling is that the group is sufficient to play the game we want to play and to try and resolve every game. That applies only to the game today and every game is an opportunity to express yourselves once again.
"I think as the game wore on our insistence started to fatigue their defence. And as the second half advanced, we started to generate presences with Dallas and James and Shackleton, Summerville and Gelhardt and Rodrigo. We could worry the opponent.
"As such I thought that result was insufficient as I thought we could've scored more than one goal.
"The youngsters made an important contribution. Rodrigo changed the course of the game in the last 30 minutes. He took the responsibility of the penalty which wasn't simple. The first half of Cooper was also very significant."
Bielsa acknowledged the part the crowd played in his team's display.
He added: "I received something that was written to me from Chile and it reminded me of a song the fans in that country sing that says when a team is not playing well, the more you have to shout because that makes them win.
"And today in the moment when the team most needed it, the public had a decisive presence so that message that I received from a country that I love a lot like Chile, the game today it evolved that message."
It was looking dicey when Leeds lost star player Raphinha to injury following a dangerous tackle by Romain Saiss that only brought the Wolves defender a yellow card when it could easily have been a red. But the home crowd took it upon themselves to lift the players with some fantastic support.
The players responded and leading the charge was teenage striker Gelhardt who had two chances through some good centre-forward play and gave a glimpse of his skills with another mazy run in the area before his brilliant run to win the injury-time penalty.
Initially a Leeds team with Dan James surprisingly playing down the middle and sometimes beyond Rodrigo started brightly. They had Raphinha back in the side, but Kalvin Phillips was not deemed fit enough to start and was on the bench so they still had five first team players absent.
Rodrigo sent an early near post header just wide from a corner, but it was Wolves who stunned home fans with their opening goal made by Nelson Semedo's run past Jack Harrison down their right flank.
The response was good as Raphinha's well struck shot was equally well saved by Jose Sa and Mateusz Klich found space in the box only to send his shot straight at the keeper.
Great work by Liam Cooper and Raphinha led to Jack Harrison getting clear down the Leeds left, but he sliced his angled shot wide. Raphinha - once again the best player on the pitch - then attempted a curling shot, but sent the ball just wide.
Leeds became increasingly frustrated, though, as the half wore on and Wolves defended well with their time-wasting tactics already kicking in to leave supporters equally frustrated at the break.
Bielsa responded by putting Tyler Roberts on for Harrison with James going back to his usual wing position, but Wolves enjoyed their best spell of the game in the early stages of the second period with Rayan Ait-Nouri forcing the first serious save of the game from home keeper Illan Meslier.
Diegio Llorente sent an effort over from a free-kick at the other end before Raul Jimenez made room to get a shot in for the visitors only for his shot to present a comfortable save for Meslier.
With Raphinha forced to limp off it looked like Leeds heads went down for a spell, but, lifted by the crowd, they put in a strong finish in the last 20 minutes.
Roberts sent a glancing header just wide from Rodrigo's cross then Rodrigo went a strong run into the area and went down under a challenge only for the huge penalty shout to fall on deaf ears.
Roberts could only finish weakly after finding space on the edge of the area, but the pressure was mounting and Gelhardt - who came on for Klich just after the hour mark - made his first impression as he was free in the box and only denied a first senior goal for United by a superb save from Sa.
A mighty goalmouth scramble followed Gelhardt's tricky run in the area a minute later and Wolves responded by trying to take the sting out of the game with players taking it in turns to go down, reckoning they were injured. Not all this time was added on at the end, but It somehow became justice that Leeds would go on to score in injury-time.
Another decent chance followed as Gelhardt won the ball in the box only to fire his shot over.
Roared on by the crowd, they continued to fight for every ball and pile forward and were finally rewarded with the penalty awarded in the third minute of added time.
Wolves did have a half-chance to seal the points just before that, but Daniel Podence's shot was deflected wide.
The game ended with Gelhardt in the thick of the action again, running at the visitors' defence, but seeing his shot deflect wide.
Leeds United 1
(Rodrigo 90+4 pen)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Leeds: Meslier; Shackleton, Llorente, Cooper, Dallas; Struijk; Raphinha (Summerville 54), Klich (Gelhardt 62), James, Harrison (Roberts 45); Rodrigo.
Wolves: Sa; Semedo, Coady, Kilman, Saiss, Ait-Nouri (Hoever 83); Dendoncker, Moutinho (Neves 89); Traore (Podence 75), Hee-Chan; Jimenez.
Referee: Robert Jones