Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith has praised opposite number Marcelo Bielsa for his decision to instruct his players to let Albert Adomah equalise after the mental scenes we saw at Elland Road as Leeds United opened the scoring on Sunday afternoon.
Fans were expecting a tough clash in the early kickoff, but few would’ve put a bet on how things turned in the final 20 minutes.
With Mats Klich opening the scoring after a clear foul on Jonathan Kodjia, the ball wasn’t put out of play despite players on both sides stopped as they anticipated it would be, and there was also more than a hint of offside.
In any event, the red mist came down and in the ensuing melee between the players and the benches, Anwar El Ghazi was wrongly sent off for violent conduct and Bielsa told his side to let us walk the ball in.
Speaking to the BBC following the game, Smith railed against the referee for putting the incident in motion, but did have praise for his opposite numbers’ reaction.
“In the end, the right decision has prevailed. First and foremost, the referee makes a poor decision because Jonathan gets fouled in the centre circle. If he gives that as a foul, then nothing happens and we just get on with the game. But unfortunately, he doesn’t and then Tyler Roberts should put the ball out because their players have actually stopped and our players have stopped too. He faints to put it out before deciding to put the ball down the line. Klich goes on and scores and all emotional control has gone from everyone. Nobody wants to see that.”
“Full respect to Marcelo for doing that. I think sportsmanship has prevailed in the end.”
Smith also confirmed that Klich had apologised after the game for his own decision to play on.
Sets up the potential Play-Off Final brilliantly with that undercurrent doesn’t it!