Man City slips further behind leader Everton with Leeds draw

Sports

Manchester City’s head coach Pep Guardiola, left, talks with Leeds United’s head coach Marcelo Bielsa at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester City at Elland Road in Leeds, England, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. (Paul Ellis/Pool via AP)

When the final whistle blew at a rain-swept Elland Road, with the managers soaked from head to toe, Marcelo Bielsa went over to Pep Guardiola and placed both hands on his shoulders.

The mentor wanted an instant assessment from his coaching disciple.

Such an exhilarating game of end-to-end attacking football left Guardiola’s mind still a whirl of thoughts.

What to make of seeing his Manchester City side held 1-1 by Bielsa’s Leeds on Saturday?

“Maybe he is much cleverer than me,” Guardiola said, recounting the touchline exchange. “I need time to process.”

It won’t be hard to figure out how City — the 2018 and 2019 Premier League champions — conceded the equalizer in the 59th minute to a team playing only its fourth top division game after 16-year exile.

City goalkeeper Ederson’s weak punch from Kalvin Phillips’ corner allowed striker Rodrigo to pounce on the loose ball and score his first goal since joining Leeds for a club-record fee.

At least 15 players in the City squad — including Ederson — cost Guardiola’s side more than the 27 million pounds (about $35 million) Leeds paid for Rodrigo in the offseason.

While Leeds had seven shots on target, Raheem Sterling’s 16th-minute strike low shot inside the far post was one of only two for City.

“A tough opponent as expected,” Sterling said. “But a draw is not enough for what we aim for. We must do more and better.”

Especially with City already eight points behind Everton, which is the early leader after beating Brighton 4-2 to make it four wins out of four.

Fifth-place Leeds, which like Everton has played a game more than City, is still three points ahead of Guardiola’s side. Chelsea is ahead of Leeds on goal difference after beating Crystal Palace 4-0.

“That’s why this game is amazing,” Guardiola reflected on the draw, “unfortunately without spectators.”

On the weekend when spectators were originally due to start being allowed back into Premier League games — as they already are in Germany — the doors remain shut on government orders due to a spike in infections.

Newcastle was hosting Burnley in the fourth and final game of the day.

JAMES DOUBLE

Everton is enjoying its best start to a season since the 19th century after a seventh straight win in all competitions.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed Everton in front in the 16th minute with his ninth goal of the season, but an error by Jordan Pickford allowed Neal Maupay to level for Brighton to equalize after the goalkeeper couldn’t hold onto Leandro Trossard’s volley.

But Yerry Mina headed Everton back in front after meeting a free kick from fellow Colombian James Rodríguez in first-half stoppage time.

Rodríguez then took his tally to three goals since signing from Real Madrid after getting on the end of crosses from Alex Iwobi and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

“He’s a top player and when he gets on the ball you see that quality he’s got,” Calvert-Lewin said of Rodríguez. “He draws people in and opens space up for other players and for me, as a center forward, he creates chances and that’s all I can hope for.”

Brighton, which scored a late second from Yves Bissouma, has three points from four games.

PENALTY SPAT

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s lead was secured by Ben Chilwell scoring on his league debut from Tammy Abraham’s flick-on in the 50th minute and the leftback’s cross set up Kurt Zouma for a header in the 66th.

Jorginho added the third from the penalty spot in the 78th after Abraham was tripped by Tyrick Mitchell.

Abraham hoped to get on the scoresheet when Kai Havertz was fouled by Mamadou Sakho. But the striker’s bid to take the spot kick was overruled by Cesar Azpilicueta intervening to hand the ball to Jorginho, who converted in the 82nd.

“I think it’s cleared up,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. “Tammy maybe with his youthful exuberance and performance that he’d had in the game, which I think was very good, he made a bit of mistake and wanted to take the penalty. We have a designated penalty taker as you saw with the first penalty and that’s been dealt with in the dressing room.”

American forward Christian Pulisic came off the bench in the 83rd for his first appearance since recovering from a right hamstring injury sustained in Chelsea’s FA Cup final loss to Arsenal in August.

Chelsea has seven points from four games and Palace is on six.

___

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