Leeds United, Aston Villa play to a 3-all draw. In a gripping contest played at breakneck speed, the two attack-minded sides traded blow after blow, with Leeds landing the first courtesy of James’ low finish into the far corner.
Jacob Ramsey, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel James staged a three-way tussle for man of the match in a rollercoaster encounter that saw Aston Villa and Leeds share six goals in one of the Premier League games of the season.
James had two further chances for the buoyant away side, hitting the bar with one from range, before Villa hit back in style, Coutinho twice setting up young midfielder Ramsey for a pair of superb finishes past Illan Meslier.
But the away side and James had the final word before the break, with the forward defying his small stature to leap and head home a looping ball from close range.
They also had the first and ultimately final say of the second half, drawing level when Diego Llorente fired in following a fluffed Tyrone Mings clearance from a corner.
There was still enough time for a red card too, with Villa’s Ezri Konsa catching Meslier with a forearm after a corner to earn his second booking and an early exit.
That incident led to a fractious finale in which tackles flew, frustrations flared and more than one player flirted with joining Konsa in the dressing room.
The point maintains Leeds’ six-point advantage over the bottom three and keeps Aston Villa 11th on 27 points, four more than the Whites. A Premier League classic
For some reason, this fixture between two of England’s historically big names consistently produces memorable events, talking points, excitement and drama.
In recent seasons, it has produced an unchallenged goal given to Villa by Leeds after the Whites scored with a man down injured and a thrilling 3-2 last-gasp comeback win for Marcelo Bielsa’s team, both in the Championship.
This game was more in keeping with the latter – an absolute barnstormer that refused to slow or settle for an expected outcome despite Leeds’ early confidence, Villa’s subsequent ascendancy and then demotion to 10 men.
James lit the touch paper with his low finish and was superb in a central attacking role his physique suggests he is unsuited to. But on this form, he will make it tough for first-choice number nine Patrick Bamford to return to the side when he is fit.
His second goal was a sign that his small stature need not restrict him, with him leaping high above bigger Villa players in the box to head in after Rodrigo’s cross had looped his way.
He was a solid Emiliano Martinez save and a few inches and a crossbar away from claiming the match ball.
Between his two goals, though, Villa’s own mercurial pair had swung the game firmly the home side’s way. Coutinho was a livewire, ghosting into space – most notably for his low finish from Matty Cash’s cross to make it 1-1 – nutmegging opponents seemingly at will and threading defence-splitting passes.
Two of these found Ramsey, who underlined his growing reputation as a box-to-box midfielder of true elite potential. There is no greater praise than to suggest his driving runs and drilled finishes were reminiscent of the man under whom he is now learning – Villa boss Steven Gerrard.
You could have been forgiven for thinking Leeds’ race was run, but they refused to lie down and forced themselves level.
Mings was fortunate to bundle a Pascal Struijk header from a corner wide with a combination of shoulder and cheek, but erred from another corner soon after, gifting Llorente the leveller with his dire attempted hack clear.
Villa lost Emiliano Buendia to injury, Coutinho to tiring legs and then Konsa to a rush of blood and red card.
Leeds had plenty of the ball and opportunities to fashion a winner, but six goals and a point each was probably a welcome return for both at the end of a classic encounter.
“Chaos is the right word,” said Villa boss Steven Gerrard. “Even I needed a breather at half time. It was a great advert for the Premier League but we need to improve defensively and stop giving sloppy goals away.
“A lot to be pleased about. Our goals were superb. We conceded at a poor time just before the break but Leeds probably deserved that. It was certainly not a game for coaches but for fans.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa told BBC Match of the Day: “It was a disputed game. The dominance was alternate with moments for one team with possibilities and then the other way around as well.
“At the start I don’t know exactly when we were dominating until and were superior but some things we didn’t continue doing and the game became unbalanced.
“It was difficult but we got a stimulus at the end of the first half which got us closer. In the second half we slowly started to deserve a draw. “A draw was the fair result.”
Source – BBC News