Patrick Bamford scored as Leeds beat Burnley. Patrick Bamford converted an early penalty, after being brought down by Clarets keeper Nick Pope, to earn Leeds their third home win of the season. Burnley manager Sean Dyche said the referee had a “massive impact” as his side narrowly lost to Leeds at Elland Road.
Burnley were unfortunate not to be level 13 minutes later when Ashley Barnes appeared to capitalise on Illan Meslier’s mistake to spin inside the area and fire the loose ball into an empty net.
The 20-year-old Leeds goalkeeper was awarded a free-kick by referee Rob Jones, despite spilling the ball forward in what seemed like a fair aerial challenge with Ben Mee.
Dyche said Leeds would not have been awarded a penalty if the incident took place “in the middle of the pitch” and that it was “impossible” that there had been a foul in the build-up to Barnes’ disallowed goal.
“You can’t say it’s decisive because there’s more to the game than refereeing decisions but it’s a shame I have to stand here and try and stay calm about it,” Dyche told BBC Sport.
“Nick Pope got clear contact on the ball. VAR has been taking hours to make a decision but they don’t give it a few seconds to even look at it.” On Burnley’s disallowed goal, Dyche added: “At the other end, the keeper goes through with his knee in Ben Mee’s back. Ben has got nothing other than eyes for the ball, that is all he is concentrating on.
“The ball drops and the referee doesn’t even give it a chance to see what happens, because it is not a foul, it’s impossible it can be a foul when he’s just tried to head the ball.
“Even in my day, if you put your knee in someone’s back like that when they are trying to head the ball, you’re not only giving a foul away, you’re going to get booked, and nowadays you’re probably in trouble. “So I have no clue where the game is at physically at the moment.”
Leeds were the better side in the first half as they played with confidence despite their 6-2 defeat at Manchester United last Sunday, but the visitors improved after the interval as they went in search of an equaliser.
Their best opportunity fell to Barnes but the forward could only smash his volley straight at Meslier. Victory for the hosts lifts them into 11th place in the Premier League, while Burnley remain 16th.
Bielsa out to prove a point
Leeds have been winning plaudits for their attacking play all season, but they were hit with some criticism for sticking to their style in the defeat by Manchester United.
Speaking before the game, their manager Marcelo Bielsa said: “Normally, when there is adversity, what the press do is try to weaken the one who is facing adversity or to ridicule the style of play of a team.”
The ‘us against them’ stance from the Leeds boss appeared to pay off as his players started the game on the front foot.
The hosts were able to transition from defence to attack quickly and their intent paid dividends when defender Luke Ayling’s excellent pass beat the Burnley defence to find Bamford.
The forward, who follows Jamie Vardy and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in becoming the third English player to reach 10 Premier League goals this season, managed to nudge the ball past compatriot Pope to win the decisive spot-kick.
That theme continued for much of the first half as Leeds were quick to try to play into their lone striker, so much so that when Jack Harrison had the goal at his mercy, he could only fire his effort at the legs of Bamford.
Leeds have conceded more goals (30) than any other team in the top flight this season, but with their slick style of transition, and Bamford in attack, they may just cause a few more upsets yet.
Dyche will feel hard done by Burnley crossed the Pennines in good form, having won two and drawn two of their previous four games, but they were missing a bit of luck in Leeds.
Bamford’s early penalty was met by protests on and off the field as Pope may have had the faintest of touches on the ball, but the real disappointment will be Barnes’ disallowed goal.
Mee only had eyes on the ball as he competed for possession with Meslier, but the Leeds keeper was given the benefit of the doubt by referee Robert Jones.
The Clarets are the joint lowest scorers in the league, with only eight goals so far this season, and that lack of clinical edge was evident after the break. From 10 second-half attempts, only four were on target, as Barnes produced two good Meslier saves from their best opportunities.
Sean Dyche’s side were without the injured Dwight McNeil for the first time in 72 top-flight matches and the talented creative midfielder should be instrumental in changing Burnley’s attacking fortunes when he returns. Marcelo Bielsa, speaking to BBC Sport: “I clearly have to signal in the first half we could have been leading by a bigger margin. In the second, we could have received a goal that would have meant a draw.
“It surprised me. Normally when a team is dominated in the first half, there is usually a reaction in the second half. We came out with the idea of looking for the second goal. But the way they played the game, prevented us from playing how I wanted to play.
“They are a team, although they don’t create many chances when they do they are dangerous.”
On the Burnley goal being ruled out: “Sincerely, I don’t know whether the calls were correct or not. I just accept the decisions of the referees. As you ask the question, it seems we have benefitted from the decision.”
Leeds travel to West Brom on Tuesday, 29 December (18:00 GMT), while Burnley host Sheffield United at the same time.
Source – BBC News