Leeds and Villa’s six minutes of madness: Is this football’s most extraordinary passage of play ever?

An injury, two controversial goals, a brawl and a red card played out in just 360 seconds

Tom Kershaw
Monday 29 April 2019 08:29
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Aston Villa and Leeds United’s Championship fixture unravelled in an extraordinary melee midway through the second half after six minutes which featured two controversial goals, a brawl, a red card and heated argument between Marcelo Bielsa and John Terry.

With the match goalless, Villa were incensed after Leeds refused to kick the ball out of play as Jonathan Kodjia lay injured on the floor, and instead broke forwards with Mateusz Klich firing the home side into the lead.

Bielsa then appeared to order his side to allow Villa to score an uncontested equaliser, but Pontus Jansson attempted to halt Albert Adomah as the striker was allowed to run through on goal by every other Leeds player.

Bielsa and Terry then squared up and began to furiously argue on the touchline while their players descended into a brawl on the pitch. Anwar El Ghazi swung an elbow in the direction of Patrick Bamford but appeared to miss the Leeds striker. But after conferring with his assistants, Stuart Attwell then sent off the winger.

The match finished 1-1, ending Leeds’ hopes of automatic promotion, and sealed Sheffield’s return to the Premier League.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Villa manager Dean Smith said: ”Klich has apologised. Every credit to Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa for putting that right. I asked him and he agreed. He said ‘yes’. He apologised for what happened. Fair play to them. It was a good game of football until that moment.”

On whether Villa will appeal against El Ghazi’s red card, Smith added: “Without a shadow. I will be absolutely amazed if it’s not rescinded. We will appeal that. He doesn’t deserve it. We needed emotional control from everybody.

Bielsa the confirmed that he had instructed his players to allow Villa to score their uncontested goal. "We gave the goal back," Bielsa said. "The facts are what everyone saw.

"English football is known for sportsmanship so I don't have to comment on this kind of thing, which is common in England."

The result halted Villa's 10-game winning run, and the sides could yet meet again in next month's play-off final.

Villa served early warning of their excellent current form with Andre Green and Kodjia both heading narrowly off-target.

Bielsa's side should have taken a ninth-minute lead though. Luke Ayling's cross found its way to Jack Harrison in the penalty area and the winger mis-hit his shot from six yards.

Ahmed Elmohamady put in a timely block to deny Harrison at the far post soon after as Leeds began to hit their stride.

Adam Forshaw lashed a shot from the edge of the area over the crossbar, but Villa responded through John McGinn's flicked header, which was well saved by Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

Referee Stuart Attwell incensed the home crowd and the Leeds bench with several contentious decisions, with skipper Liam Cooper and later Bielsa both booked.

Stuart Dallas crashed a low shot wide after another spell of concerted Leeds pressure before the break, but the first half ended goalless.

Patrick Bamford holds his head after Anwar El Ghazi's elbow

Leeds picked up where they left off in the second period after injured defender Dallas and Harrison were replaced by Gaetano Berardi and Tyler Roberts.

Forshaw fired inches wide, while Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was wayward with a free-kick before Kodjia spurned a golden chance for Villa when he blazed over from inside the box.

Pablo Hernandez went close after trying his luck from 25 yards but both sides lacked composure with the goal in sight, before the bizarre 360 second period ensured.

Leeds substitute Roberts' shot was blocked before Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer brilliantly saved from Hernandez's shot.

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