Leeds United boss Christiansen pleased with players’ efforts in draw with Villa

Liam Cooper heads in for Leeds United against Aston Villa, but is ruled offside. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Liam Cooper heads in for Leeds United against Aston Villa, but is ruled offside. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen praised his players despite seeing them let a lead slip to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa at Elland Road.

The Whites led at half-time after crowd hero Pontus Jansson headed home his first goal of the season, but fourth-placed Villa upped a gear after the break to earn a point with Henri Lansbury’s strike from the edge of the box.

A draw was a fair result as United lost control of the game and only managed one shot on target, but Christiansen was happy with the effort of the players.

He said: “I am very satisfied with the performance of the players and the effort they put into the game, how they understood how to play them.

“I told the players it was cleverness to understand that when you can’t win a game, or when it’s difficult to win a game, you don’t lose it.

“This is the difference between the team from a month ago and the team we have now.

“Of course we would have been satisfied with three points, especially after the perfect first half against one of the strongest teams in this league. Aston Villa equalised but we had chances. I’m very pleased. It’s a good step for us to continue with.

“They came looking for four wins in a row and they have not had many chances. We needed to keep the ball better in the second half, that’s what we missed, but I cannot complain at the performance over the 90 minutes.

“I am very pleased with the return in the last four games. We have had three teams who want to get promoted direct, we’ve had Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton and Aston Villa. I’m very satisfied with how the players have taken on these games.”

Leeds looked on course for victory after they deservedly led at half-time after carrying on where they left off at Barnsley the previous week.

They pressured Villa into making mistakes all round the pitch and came up with some bright football when they won possession, although it did not always result in clear chances.

Villa had the first sight of goal with their in-form winger Albert Adomah seeing an angled shot comfortably saved by Felix Wiedwald.

Kalvin Phillips fired a shot wide from 30 yards for Leeds while Pablo Hernandez shot wide from the edge of the box following some neat passing that gave him space.

Ex-Leeds winger Robert Snodgrass saw a weak shot easily saved before the action swiftly swung to the other end of the pitch with some good running by Caleb Ekuban winning a corner. From it Jansson got free to head home Hernandez’s delivery and the Whites were ahead.

Villa created a chance just past the half-hour only for Glen Whelan to screw his shot wide from the edge of the box.

But United came agonisingly close to a second goal in first half injury-time when Liam Cooper came forward for a free-kick only to send his header over.

Villa looked more forceful after the break and had a good chance as Adomah got in behind Luke Ayling only to see his shot from an angle saved by Wiedwald.

It was the Whites going close a minute later, though, when Cooper made an interception and drove forward, playing a good ball out to Samuel Saiz on the right flank. The Spaniard then played a great ball across where there were three United players, all of who somehow failed to get a decisive touch.

Home fans briefly celebrated when Cooper headed home a kemar Roofe free-kick only to see a flag raised for a marginal offside call.

It was visiting fans making the noise on 71 minutes with the ball ricocheting kindly following a couple of tackles to substitute Lansbury who produced a fine shot from the edge of the box, the ball going in off the post with Wiedwald given no chance.

It looked like Villa would push on, but they were held at bay with the Whites defending well for the remainder.

Christiansen made changes to try to revive his side’s fortunes late on, but the action petered out and both teams seemed to settle for a draw, keeping Villa in fourth and United in seventh.

Match facts

Leeds United 1

(Jansson 19)

Aston Villa 1

(Lansbury 71)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 30,547

Leeds: Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski (Grot 90+3), Saiz, Hernandez (Roofe 42), Ekuban (Sacko 83).

Aston Villa: Johnstone, Hutton, Samba, Chester, Taylor, Whelan, Hourihane (Lansbury 65), Snodgrass, Onomah (Grealish 65), Adomah (Elmohamady 90), Davis.

Referee: Peter Bankes.