April 29 – Sheffield United have been promoted to the English Premier League for the first time since 2007, joining Norwich City in the top flight, but they had an unusual helping hand from Yorkshire rivals Leeds.
Leeds’ own hopes of climbing out of the Championship after 15 years now rely on the playoffs but they made their own piece of history in their final home game of the season courtesy of a remarkable sporting gesture from head coach Marcelo Bielsa
In a game of high tension against Aston Villa, also chasing promotion, Bielsa ordered his team to deliberately concede a goal by allowing Villa to walk the ball into the net to secure a 1-1 draw, images that were flashed across the world.
Bielsa’s gesture was in direct response to Leeds’ opening the scoring when a Villa player was lying on the turf injured. Villa players stopped playing expecting the ball to be kicked out of play, but instead Leeds carried on and scored. Cue utter pandemonium, including a sending-off, before Bielsa decided to even up matters.
After the match the Argentine explained his reasoning when he said: “The facts are those everyone could see. What happened, happened.”
When it was pointed out that few coaches would have made the same gesture Bielsa replied: “English football is known around the world for the noble features for how we play the competition.”
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