London – Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League was confirmed on Sunday after Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa allowed Aston Villa to score in a remarkable 1-1 draw at Elland Road.
Leeds fell five points behind the Blades with just one game remaining after the hosts stood aside to let Albert Adomah run from kick-off and equalise after Leeds took the lead through Mateusz Klich, while Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia was down injured.
Bielsa had been confronted by Villa assistant boss John Terry as players on the field and both benches clashed following Klich’s controversial opener.
Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi was sent-off in the melee as the visitors’ club record 10-game winning streak came to an end.
“The facts are those which everyone could see,” Bielsa said.
“What happened happened and we behaved as we behaved. That’s all I can say about something which is very clear.”
Bielsa, asked if he had ordered his players to let Villa score an equaliser in the interests of fair or rather to defuse a volatile situation, said: “I don’t understand the difference. You make a difference between fair play and the circumstances of the game, but for me it’s the same.”
The veteran Argentinian manager’s understanding of fair play was called into question earlier this season by Derby boss Frank Lampard — a former Chelsea and England team-mate of Terry — after it emerged Bielsa had been sending scouts to ‘spy’ on rival clubs’ training sessions.
But he had no trouble with the concept on Sunday, with Bielsa adding: “English football is known around the world for its noble features of how we play.”
Leeds could face Villa again in the playoffs, when Bielsa’s men will have to rouse themselves from the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion.
Sheffield United had already realistically secured their spot back in the top-flight with a 2-0 win over Ipswich on Saturday thanks to their much superior goal difference.
“It’s just a fabulous experience. We’ve taken the knocks and we’ve come roaring back,” said United boss Chris Wilder.
“Fourteen points over seven games at the back end of the season with one defeat in 13 at the business end of the season and people still question whether we are going to fall away.
“We’ve just kept our heads down and answered it in the right way, which is on the green bit.”