Leeds vs Everton was a beauty of a game at a packed Elland Road, as two historic English clubs went toe-to-toe in the Yorkshire rain and both Rafael Benitez and Marcelo Bielsa applauded one another in their post-game reaction.
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For the first time in 16 years, Elland Road was full for a top-flight game and both sets of players seemed to feed off that energy as Everton twice took the lead but Leeds fought back on both occasions in the exhilarating 2-2 draw.
In the steady rain, both Bielsa and Benitez shared a smile and a hug on the pitch after the game as they shared a chat which was probably dominated by tactics.
This game summed up what the Premier League is all about, as the Leeds vs Everton live reaction below has plenty of positive thoughts from Benitez, Bielsa and Co.
Leeds vs Everton live reaction: Post-game comments from Rafael Benitez, Marcelo Bielsa, Kalvin Phillips, Demarai Gray
Rafa Benitez and Marcelo Bielsa having a moment at full-time after Everton's 2-2 draw against Leeds. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6yiGFPE1nQ
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 21, 2021
Here is what Rafael Benitez had to say about Everton settling for a draw at Leeds after they took the lead twice:
“We could have won today, we fought for every ball and little-by-little we had more chances and more control in the game. But, we were also under pressure against a really good team so I’m really pleased with how reacted and the commitment of the players,” Benitez told the BBC.
“We’ve had 17 attempts away from home, some really clear chances. Overall we did well against a good team. Hopefully we can continuing improving. Marcelo (Bielsa) has been working with his team for three years, we’ve had six weeks here so I’m expecting us to improve but I was really pleased. We were expecting the team to start well this season. This was always going to be a difficult game so I’m pleased with four points out of six.”
Marcelo Bielsa seemed pretty happy with the draw and the overall display from his team:
“We dominated a large portion of the game, more than the opponent but in function of that dominance we should have created more chances at goal and suffered less chances at our goal,” Bielsa told the BBC.
“The public is always a stimulus and the presence of the spectators is very important. It made us very happy and it was very emotional to play in front of them again. Our goalkeeper made two interventions that we valued as a goal in our favour today and allowed us to get the draw.”
Asked about a late VAR check for a possible penalty kick for Leeds after Fabian Delph went into a tackle on Raphinha, Bielsa wasn’t having any of it and brushed aside suggestions Leeds should have had a penalty kick.
“The referee and VAR do what is fair and what they see,” Bielsa said.
Make of that what you will, but it seemed like both decisions were spot on, but not awarding the late penalty kick and also giving Everton a penalty in the first half when Liam Cooper pulled back Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who had a breakout EURO 2020 for the Three Lions, reflects on fans returning to a full Elland Road. Safe to say the local lad was delighted with the atmosphere…
🎙️ "We've missed them, it makes a massive difference" Kalvin gives his thoughts on today's 2-2 draw pic.twitter.com/IzdOKQ9t4S
— Leeds United (@LUFC) August 21, 2021
Everton winger Demarai Gray, who scored his first Everton goal after his summer arrival and celebrated in some style!
“It’s important to me to make a good start at Everton. I feel I’ve integrated into the team and the system and I’m working well with the manager. My focus is to keep being a threat and hopefully put more goals in,” Gray told the BBC.
“Against a team like Leeds you have to kill the game off. They’re always going to apply the pressure and with the fans here, they’re not going to give up. We could have taken more today but we’ll take the point… I went flying after the goal. I’m delighted to get off the mark and score in front of the away fans.”