Leeds United and Manchester City fought out a hugely entertaining 1-1 draw in the Premier League on Saturday.
City were on the front foot right from kick-off and Kevin de Bruyne had already struck the woodwork from a long-range free-kick before Raheem Sterling curled in a 17th-minute opener.
Leeds came back into the match as the half wore on, but Ederson made a couple of big saves to keep his side in front.
After the break it was at times an end-to-end encounter and, moments after Leeds substitute Rodrigo hit the woodwork, the same Spanish forward tapped home the equaliser after Ederson couldn’t punch clear a corner.
Here are five things we learned from the game at Elland Road.
New pair at the back
Pending a late move for a left-back, this is likely to be the Manchester City defensive line for much of the season: Kyle Walker, new signing Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy.
Joao Cancelo will see plenty of games on either side of the defence too and Nathan Ake is another option, but the partnership in the middle will be on show as often as possible for Pep Guardiola.
It’s early days, but together they fared reasonably well in terms of their direct confrontations with Leeds forwards—but at full-back, big questions remain.
Ederson was both excellent and responsible for City’s equaliser, while the midfield struggled most of all, in protecting the defence and stopping the quick passing build-up of the home side.
Good marks for the back two, not so much for those around them.
City patterns of play
After a heavy defeat to Leicester last weekend, City needed a response.
They seemed to be providing it early on, with some fantastic build-up play, a total domination of possession and the early goal – but after half an hour, much like against the Foxes, they fell away in terms of tempo and intensity in the press.
The concern for Guardiola will be the way his team not only ceded control of the direction of the game, but were unable to stop chances being created—Leeds hit the woodwork three times, Ederson made a couple of wonder saves and the channels were opened constantly.
It made for fascinating viewing as a match, but not the style of dominance and relentless winning that City have usually been used to.
Leeds’ learning curve
Considering the only real touch they had of the ball in the first half-hour was to kick-off, Leeds have to be applauded for how quickly they learned to cope and threaten City.
Playing short out of defence wasn’t working, they couldn’t find their deepest midfielders with passes into the centre and the ball wasn’t sticking up top – so Marcelo Bielsa made changes.
Leeds thereafter were more inclined to build down the flanks, play quick one-twos and get runners in behind, which really troubled City’s own shape.
So many chances came from these routes – they’ll surely lead to three points against lesser sides than City.
Both goalkeepers deserve acclaim for a string of big interventions on the day.
Ederson did blunder for the Leeds goal, for sure, but he more than made it up for it with the rest of his saves.
A one-on-one stop with Patrick Bamford and a fingertip stretch to deny Rodrigo were the pick of the bunch, but at the other end Illan Meslier had his own big moments.
They weren’t as spectacular, but cutting out a low cross destined for Sterling’s boot, his quick distribution to launch counters and a succession of high claims to stop danger early all proved his worth after earlier shaky moments.
The managerial dual
The most fascinating battle of all took place on the touchline, perhaps: Master Marcelo Bielsa and perfectionist Pep Guardiola.
The way they each reacted and re-reacted to seize control of the game in turn was exceptional to watch, with minor tweaks, substitutions and non-stop cajoling all making the game more watchable as time went on.
It’s arguable that, given Leeds’ underdog status, lack of top-flight experience and the fact they took a point, that Bielsa might be given the ‘win on points’ in boxing terms.
But in terms of his team’s title ambitions, Guardiola will know that Leeds will beat several top sides this year and, given it’s so early in the season, he might not be too disappointed in the result himself.
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