Leeds United came from behind in stirring fashion to secure a thoroughly deserved point as they played out a thrilling draw with Manchester City at Elland Road.
In the battle of wits between City manager Pep Guardiola and his inspiration Marcelo Bielsa, Raheem Sterling’s smart 17th-minute finish was the reward for an early siege on the Leeds goal.
In the glorious chaos of this end-to-end encounter, Leeds fought back to force two fine saves from Ederson at the feet of Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling in the first half before his weak punch from a corner gifted substitute Rodrigo an equaliser on the hour.
Kevin De Bruyne hit the post for City in the first half and they had several near misses after the break but Leeds, bursting with energy, were a huge threat, Ederson rescuing a rocking City by turning Rodrigo’s header on to the bar before saving superbly at the feet of Patrick Bamford.
Leeds will light up the Premier League
Leeds fans will have feared the worst as they were given a fearful going over in the early stages of this game, pinned back and a bag of nerves as Manchester City came out with all the anger of a team that had lost their last Premier League game 5-2 at home to Leicester City.
De Bruyne rattled the post, Sterling scored – but not for one second did Leeds let their heads drop or lose belief.
Slowly but surely, the relentless positivity and intensity that makes Bielsa’s side such compelling viewing started to emerge and once they had settled they not only stood toe-to-toe with City but also dominated much of the second half.
Bamford had that great chance late on but this was once again a demonstration of the fitness and fearlessness they bring to the Premier League, standing on the front foot and refusing to compromise their attacking beliefs.
Leeds consolidated a very strong (and at times spectacular) start to the season.
Their style means there will be slips along the way of course but you cannot take your eyes off this Leeds United side under their charismatic manager.
Manchester City lose further ground
Manchester City possess a strange vulnerability for a side packed with such quality and with their track record of success.
It seems that unless City turn early supremacy into a convincing lead, they grow increasingly vulnerable – and so it proved here.
Guardiola’s side were in a different class to Leeds for the first 20 minutes but with only a one-goal advantage, they suddenly looked nervous as the home side grew in confidence.
Ederson rescued City either side of the error for Rodrigo’s goal and once again the continued fallibility of Benjamin Mendy was exposed, particularly with one error that almost gifted Ayling a goal.
It was a real test for new £65m defender Ruben Dias on his debut and this will feel like points lost for Guardiola, particularly after the heavy loss to Leicester.
City, in their defence, created a host of chances themselves and were furious when penalty appeals against Sterling were ignored by referee Mike Dean.
In the final reckoning, however, this is a result that will please Bielsa much more than City boss Guardiola.
‘It’s like perfume…’
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa: “The start and the end were with City and the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half were a bit better for us
“For them to be superior to us is pretty easy for them, it doesn’t require much effort, whereas for us it requires us to go to the limit to be on their level.
“We couldn’t take the ball off them and they were taking the ball off us very easily. We did it with a lot of effort, a lot of aggression to win the ball back and the confidence in our game grew.
“It wouldn’t have been fair if we had won the match, it would’ve been possible, but not fair.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It was an entertaining game for everyone. I’m incredibly proud of these players who enjoy football and come to this country and play many years at a high level. This is their first pre-season together, we couldn’t do it more because the opponent was so good like all Marcelo Bielsa sides.
“Of course we are far away from the top of the league, we need to start to win games. It’s a marathon, and with Champions League games, all the teams have this situation.
“Society gives credit for the winners. It’s like perfume: when you win, you smell so good. When you don’t, you smell so bad.
“The approach was incredible and it’s nice to face a team like Leeds because they want to win, like they did with Liverpool. It’s incredible entertaining football and it’s interesting for the fans.”
Rodrigo ends near 10-year wait for second PL goal
- Leeds United’s Rodrigo Moreno scored his second Premier League goal and first since January 2011, nine years and 272 days ago. It’s the second-longest gap between a player’s first two goals in the competition after Andy Johnson (nine years 276 days).
- Leeds have lost just one of their last six Premier League games against Manchester City (W3 D2) and remain unbeaten in their last three against the Citizens in the competition (W1 D2).
- Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola remains unbeaten in all four of his managerial meetings with Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa in all competitions (W2 D2).
- Manchester City (D1 L1) have failed to win consecutive Premier League games for the first time since December 2018 (L2).
- Manchester City have lost just one of their last 32 Premier League games against promoted sides (W25 D6), with that defeat coming at Norwich last season.
- Since the start of last season, only Danny Ings (12) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (nine) have scored the opening goal in more Premier League games than Raheem Sterling (eight).
- Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has scored more goals than any other Premier League player in all competitions since the start of last season (34).
- Rodrigo became the first Spanish player to score for Leeds United in the Premier League, netting just three minutes and six seconds after coming on as a substitute.