Leeds United stunned Manchester City with a late winner as the Yorkshire side put a dent in City’s title bid. Stuart Dallas scored both goals for the visitors, who had Liam Cooper sent off just before half time, with Ferran Torres the only player in blue able to beat the Leeds keeper.
City were looking for a further three points that would have put them 17 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but Marcelo Bielsa’s well-organised side had other ideas. Manager Pep Guardiola made several changes to the side that beat Borussia Dortmund in midweek, and maybe the return leg in Germany on Wednesday influenced the manager’s team selection. Kevin de Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez were all on the bench as the blues seemed to switch focus.
It is unknown how many of those would have changed the game though, given the way Leeds set up. Unlike many who come to the Etihad, the visitors didn’t allow City time on the ball, snapping at blue heels, holding a strong back line and not being afraid to pour forward where they could.
City still played their usual passing game, trying to find a way past the Leeds defence but failed to make any real impact. And when the blues did get through, they found Illan Meslier had become the latest visiting goalkeeper to have an excellent game, keeping out a Joao Cancelo cross with his leg. Raheem Sterling had an excellent chance to break the deadlock when Fernandinho charged into the penalty area and laid the ball off to the winger, but put his shot wide.
And the England man and City were made to pay for that miss when Dallas put Leeds in front with 3 minutes of the half remaining. Cancelo’s hesitation allowed Helder Costa time to find top scorer Patrick Bamford, who in turn set up Dallas, and the midfielder’s shot hit the post and crossed the line, giving the visitors a goal with their first shot.
City responded immediately and a free-kick on the left was met by the back of John Stones, but his ‘effort’ was off target. The blues were given a boost in first half injury time when Cooper received his marching orders for a challenge on Jesus. The referee checked the VAR monitor before deciding that Cooper had committed serious foul play and ordered him off the field.
The blues looked to take advantage of the extra man and laid siege to the Leeds goal, however they did seem insistent on pumping crosses into a penalty area that was devoid of a target man. How they would have loved a Haaland or a Kane to have a big presence and pressurise the defence. Instead, the balls into the box were bread and butter for the keeper, who looked happy to collect them all day.
And for all City’s possession, they still couldn’t find their way past a stubborn Leeds defence that seemed to get to every ball first. And when City found space they again found the keeper equal to the challenge, with Meslier tipping Fernandinho’s long drive over the bar. Bernardo Silva was also guilty of missing a glaring chance when he fired wide when it seemed easier to make the goal bulge.
Eventually, City did find the target when Ferran Torres levelled the score from close range with 14 minutes remaining, and blues fans, along with their Leeds counterparts would have been forgiven for thinking City would go on to win.
However the blues were hit with a warning when Raphinha broke clear of the City defence and only a perfectly executed, last-ditch challenge by Ederson prevented the Brazilian from putting Leeds back in front.
Sadly, the warning went unheeded and when Ezgjan Alioski’s superb through ball set Dallas away, there was only ever going to be one outcome as the midfielder nutmegged Ederson to send Leeds home with the three points.
Frustratingly though and despite City having 29 shots to Leeds 2, it felt like the visitors deserved to win, simply because of their organisation, their willingness to attack and for not being wasteful!
City now travel to Germany for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Dortmund, defending a 2-1 lead, and City fans will be hoping that the seven changes made for today’s made will be worth it on Wednesday.
Final Score: Manchester City 1-2 Leeds United