Jesse Marsch stated Leeds United’s “hearts and minds” are with Stuart Dallas after being stretchered off against Man City, though the prognosis on Liam Cooper was thankfully more positive.
Leeds brought the fight after losing 7-0 in the reverse fixture, but were once again powerless to stop Man City marching to a heavy victory. Their weakness at set pieces was exposed for each of City’s first two goals. Rodri ghosted in unmarked to bag the first before Ruben Dias’ knock-down was swept home by Nathan Ake for the second.
Gabriel Jesus and Fernanidnho rounded out the scoring, though Leeds did have chances of their own to make the scoreline look respectable.
Rodrigo could’ve been the catalyst for putting the Whites ahead inside three minutes. But rather than square to the open Raphinha, the Spaniard curiously chose to go alone before then passing when the opportunity had gone.
Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo both produced goal-line blocks, while Ederson was required to save with his feet to preserve the clean sheet late on.
Regardless, Burnley’s victory over Watford earlier in the day – combined with Leeds’ 4-0 defeat here – has ensured the threat of relegation cannot yet be ruled out.
Leeds concluded the afternoon with two injuries – one to Liam Cooper during the warm-up and another to Stuart Dallas.
Dallas’ injury left Leeds fans fearing the worst after the full-back was in visible agony after his knee appeared to buckle in a challenge with Jack Grealish.
Stuart Dallas injury a major concern
Dallas was stretchered off and speaking to the BBC after the match, Marsch said: “Our hearts and minds are with Stuart Dallas right now. It looks like a knee injury that’s not great. We hope he’s OK.
“The result was worse than we hoped but the performance was better. We played with confidence. It didn’t feel like a 4-0 match.
“We had momentum and controlled their movements. It’s disappointing to lose so big but even the fans and the way they responded after the game is a reflection of what the performance was.
“I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said it was the best team against the best club. I’ve never seen supporters who love their club so deeply. I feel it on the streets, in the stadium. We’re doing everything we can to make sure we can stay in this league. We’re in for a fight but we’re up for it.”
Captain Cooper pulled out with injury during the warm-up. Robin Koch moved into defence, with Mateusz Klich taking Cooper’s spot in the eleven.
When asked if it caused disruption, Marsch admitted: “It did a little bit but we were able to adjust quickly. Not ideal to lose your captain just before a game like this. We’re hoping he’ll be back for next weekend. It was a weird thing with his knee.
“I love this team. I love these guys. They give everything every day. That makes me optimistic about our chances. We’ve tried to focus on ourselves and we’ve been able to manage.
“You see the quality they have. They don’t need too many chances to make you pay.”
Ayling bemoans Leeds’ “downfall”
Leeds defender Luke Ayling also spoke to the press, telling Sky Sports: “I thought we did really well for long spells of the game. We had a game plan and stuck to it.
“Set-pieces have been our downfall this season. We stuck to our game plan for the first 20 minutes. We had chances, caught them on the counter. But the set-piece goal was poor from us.
“It’s hard at 1-0 because you’re chasing. And then we got done from another set-piece.
“It felt like our press was good and we were forcing them into things they don’t usually do. We’re playing against probably the best team in the world so it was always going to be tough.
“We’ve got to score some goals and carve some results out. A lot of teams lose to City. We were unbeaten in five and have been playing well. We can’t be down from this result. We played well and were brave on the ball.”