BIELSA RELIEVED: Leeds get their first win of the season
Marcelo Bielsa expressed his relief after Leeds registered their first Premier League win of the season by beating Watford 1-0 at Elland Road.
Diego Llorente marked his return from injury with his second goal for Leeds, converting from close range following a corner in the 18th minute.
“Of course I feel relief,” said Bielsa, whose side kick-started their campaign with a first league victory at the seventh attempt.
“Three points from a possible 18 is something to be worried about. Independent of what we deserved or not. To win today was a necessity.”
Leeds, who climbed out of the bottom three, dominated from start to finish and should have won by a much bigger margin.
But typically, they failed to convert chances in either half and home fans in a crowd of 36,261 had to endure another nervous finish.
“Only one goal of difference, when the opponent perceives the game is ending, they take risks,” Bielsa said. “But I had the impression we did not lose our calm.”
Bielsa singled out match-winner Llorente, Jamie Shackleton, who filled in at right-back in Luke Ayling’s absence again, Kalvin Phillips and second-half substitute Tyler Roberts for special praise.
Llorente had missed the previous three games due to a muscle strain and Bielsa said: “He did not make defensive errors and distributed the ball with precision and intelligence.
“He scored a goal, which is a good way to round off a solid performance.”
Bielsa added: “We didn’t allow counter-attacks and didn’t let their forwards stand out. In the first hour, we created a lot of danger. In the last 30, a little less. It was a fair and deserved win.”
Watford slipped to their fourth league defeat of the season following promotion, but still sit one point and two places above Leeds in the table.
Hornets boss Xisco Munoz admitted it was a disappointing display from his side, but preferred to focus on Leeds’ strengths rather than his own players’ short-comings.
“We know exactly the intensity of them,” the Spaniard said. “It was with more intensity than us.
“They won all the duels, they shoot more times than us and they wanted to win the game more than us.
“We knew before the game with the numbers. We know Leeds are number one with intensity and it’s true.”
Watford’s two league wins this season came against Aston Villa and Norwich and they face Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United in four of their next five matches.
Munoz added: “It’s important to continue to work very hard because all points are important in the Premier League.
“But we need to improve set-pieces because we concede a lot of goals from these situations.”
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