Pep Guardiola undone by hero Marcelo Bielsa as Leeds United earn spectacular win at Manchester City

Stuart Dallas scores twice, including the winner in injury time, after Liam Cooper sees red just before half-time

Leeds United's Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday April 10, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Michael Regan/PA Wire. 

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When Pep Guardiola described Marcelo Bielsa as “a joy for world football”, it is safe to say this was not what he had in mind. Not Leeds United camped behind the ball, all within 30 yards of their goal, having just 29 per cent of possession. Nor Stuart Dallas racing away to score his second goal and condemn Manchester City to defeat.

For Leeds, it was a stunning, spectacular result but there was little joy for Guardiola here. After 27 wins in 28, City lost to the 10 remaining men of a promoted team.

“Defeat sometimes is necessary to understand how difficult it is what we have done,” Guardiola said. His team still need 11 points to regain the title. He was beaten by one of his heroes.

The contrarian and the purist in Bielsa insisted: “We deserved to win but the just or fair thing would have been for City to win.”

His reputation was not built on rearguard actions but this was necessitated. The scoreline would have been proof of the progress he has overseen even without the circumstances. “From the adversity and effort of the players it was emotional for me. It was a rebellious team. They weren't resigned to lose.”

Leeds were depleted before the break, with captain Liam Cooper getting their first top-flight red card since 2004, but a triumph of spirit contained evidence of Bielsa’s alchemy as they recorded a first league win over big-six opponents in that time.

Dallas was a decent Championship winger before Bielsa’s appointment. Now he has become the Argentinian’s ultimate utility man, a multipurpose midfielder or full-back who can play anywhere and run all day. It felt fitting that he was still going in injury time, sprinting on to Gjanni Alioski’s outside-of-the-boot pass to slide a shot under Ederson, just as he had drilled Leeds ahead, via the inside of the post, after being teed up by Patrick Bamford.

Despite spending much of the season in defence, Dallas has seven league goals. “This year has allowed Dallas to show a part of himself that we didn’t know he had,” Bielsa said.

His brace was sandwiched by examples of Leeds’ organisation and concentration. Often deficient defensively, they excelled without Cooper. Bielsa, the inveterate attacker, said he had never trained for such a scenario.

“Nothing that happened today had any influence from my part,” he insisted, but he brought on two centre-backs, first sacrificing Bamford a couple of minutes after his assist. Cooper flew in at Gabriel Jesus, planting his studs in the striker’s knee. Referee Andre Marriner booked him; after reviewing it on the monitor, he changed the colour of the card and Cooper’s dangerous tackle got the punishment it deserved.

Yet Leeds adapted brilliantly. It took a high-class strike to unlock them, a slick move featuring a penetrative pass from Fernandinho before Bernardo Silva found Ferran Torres, who scored his first league goal of 2021.

The identity of the scorer was instructive. Guardiola signalled that Wednesday’s trip to Borussia Dortmund was the priority he gave Nathan Ake a first game of 2021 and Oleksandr Zinchenko a rare outing in midfield and made seven changes. “I don’t regret any of them,” he said. Along with John Stones and Fernandinho, the Ukrainian was one of City’s three best players, but they lacked their usual fluency.

Zinchenko’s set-pieces posed a threat. Even against 11 men, Stones and Fernandinho kept carrying the ball forward, each rationalising that if the Leeds players were all man-marking, there was space for them to surge into. Stones set up Zinchenko when he had a shot saved while Raheem Sterling dragged a shot wide after an inspired break into the box by Fernandinho, who rolled back the years by resembling the attacking midfielder he was for Shakhtar Donetsk.

Yet City were too reliant on that trio for too long as they missed some of their rested regulars. “We did not create enough for the forwards,” Guardiola said. In the final half hour, Silva, Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo all had efforts but City’s 29 shots yielded a lone goal.

“Sometimes Leeds create more chances and lose the game,” Guardiola said. “Football is the only game like that.” And Leeds had a threat. The outstanding Raphinha might have won it but for a brilliant tackle by Ederson. Dallas did.