Bielsa fixes Leeds defence following Man Utd horror to grind out Burnley win

Leeds stated the case for their defence with a hard-fought win to put their worst nightmare behind them at the first time of asking.

Patrick Bamford's first-half penalty was enough to sink Burnley at Elland Road as Marco Bielsa's men made amends for being hit for six at bitter rivals Manchester United last weekend.

Bielsa will be delighted with three much-needed points, but even happier with a rare clean sheet following criticism that his side know how to attack – but are clueless at the back.

But the Yorkshire outfit were still fortunate to escape with a win after the Clarets were somehow denied a clear penalty of their own following a disgraceful decision from referee Robert Jones.

Bielsa had been dealt a blow before kick-off when captain Liam Cooper was ruled out with an abdominal problem.

Pascal Struijk was drafted in to replace him and was the only change to the side humiliated 6-2 at Old Trafford.

Sean Dyche, meanwhile, made two enforced changes, with Erik Pieters and Josh Benson replacing injured duo Dwight McNeil and Robbie Brady as the Clarets looked to maintain their four-match unbeaten run.

This was the first top-flight meeting between these two since the 1975-76 season and promised to be a clash of differing styles to say the least.

While the Clarets had been pragmatic and hard to beat of late, Leeds have attacked the challenge of the Premier League with gay abandon at times.

Bielsa's gung-ho approach cost him a hiding at Old Trafford and in the build-up to this game he spent 40 minutes defending his team's tactics and approach, accusing the media of attempting to 'ridicule him'.

The Argentine appears to care as much about the press as he does about defending and Dyche had summed the situation up perfectly before kick off when he said, "it's about putting the ball in that net and keeping it out of the other one. They have conceded 30 goals, so there are ways of opening them up."

But the ball was in the Clarets' net after just five minutes when a long ball forward from Luke Ayling caught out Ben Mee and James Tarkowski to find Bamford, who was brought down by Nick Pope.

Bamford picked himself up to slam home the penalty in emphatic style to notch his 10th of the season and become the first Leeds striker to reach double figures in the top flight since Robbie Fowler in 2002.

Rodrigo then shot straight at Pope as Leeds continued to pile forward and stretch the Clarets' creaking defence.

But the visitors had a legitimate equaliser ruled out on 18 minutes when Illan Mesler spilled a free-kick and allowed Ashley Barnes to hammer home the loose ball.

But somehow official Jones decided Ben Mee had fouled Meslier and made the mistake of blowing too soon, with replays showing the decision should have been the other way round after the keeper had kneed his rival in the back. Ridiculous.

A mistake from Mee gifted Leeds a glorious chance to make it 2-0 but Pope spared his blushes with a great block to deny Jack Harrison, while Chris Wood headed over from close range at the opposite end.

The Clarets dominated the second half and pinned Leeds deep inside their own half, with Josh Brownhill, Matt Lowton, Ashley Westwood and Jay Rodriguez all going close as the visitors' frustrations continued.

But there was no way through the wall of white and Leeds could have wrapped things up 20 minutes from time when substitute Hernandez broke from deep, but saw his low shot superbly kept out by Pope.

LEEDS UNITED (4-1-4-1): Meslier 7; Dallas 7, Ayling 7, Struijk 7, Alioski 7; Phillips 8; RAPHINA 8 (Poveda 70), Rodrigo 7 (Hernandez 59, 7), Klich 7 (Shackelton 66, 6), Harrison 6; Bamford 7. Subs: Casilla, Jenkins, Casey, Davis, Costa, Roberts.

UP NEXT: West Brom (a), Premier League, tomorrow.

BURNLEY (4-4-2): Pope 6; Lowton 6, Tarkowski 5, Mee 4, Taylor 6; Benson 5 (Stephens 74), Westwood 6, Brownhill 7, Pieters 6 (Rodriguez 74); Wood 6, BARNES 8. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Norris, Bardsley, Long, Dunne, Mancini, Mumbongo.

UP NEXT: Sheffield United (h), Premier League, tomorrow.

REFEREE: Robert Jones 5.

BEST PERFORMER – RAPHINA – A constant threat.

WORST PERFORMER – BEN MEE – All at sea.

MATCH RATING – 3.

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