Leeds retained a vital Premier League point after Luis Sinisterra was sent off at Elland Road in a moody goalless draw against Aston Villa on Sunday October 2. Colombia winger Sinisterra was dismissed early in the second half after failing to come off a free kick and picking up a second yellow card.
Villa created the best chances after Leeds fell to 10 men and closed in on a winner when Phillippe Coutinho’s volley hit a post and Ollie Watkins headed the rebound wide. But the match was dominated by both teams’ insistence on winning the physical battle, with referee Stuart Attwell booking six more players as he struggled to maintain control.
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch watched from the gantry after he was sacked in his side’s last game at Brentford four weeks ago. The American will have approved his players’ commitment, but both groups of players were too close to crossing the line and he will have bristled in the way of Sinistera’s unnecessary dismissal.
Sinisterra, Marc Roca and Rodrigo were all cautioned by Attwell, as was Villa debutant Ludwig Augustinsson, in a first half devoid of goal-mouthing action but no out-of-pocket effort. Villa’s Sinisterra, Robin Koch and Leon Bailey received yellow cards in the second half.
Goalscoring opportunities were rare in the first half, although Meslier held off shots from Watkins and Coutinho, and John McGinn’s 25-yard effort was deflected wide. The best shot before the break belonged to Leeds and ended with Sinistera flashing in a cross that eluded everyone at the edge of the penalty area.
Leeds were then reduced to 10 men three minutes after the restart when Douglas Luiz tried to play a quick free kick the ball hit Sinisterra’s outstretched leg and Attwell booked the striker a second time not to beat in retirement. As the Leeds fans unloaded their fury on Attwell, Villa threatened to take an early lead, hitting a post through Coutinho’s volley before Watkins headed in the rebound.
Leeds were in danger of imploding when defender Koch took out McGinn, and the German was grateful he just spoke to Attwell. The home side dispatched Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling with just over 20 minutes to go, and their fresh legs gave Leeds a boost as Villa probed the breakthrough.
Villa substitute Emiliano Buendia’s curling effort and Watkins’ low-angle drive narrowly missed the mark, but Bamford lifted Leeds when he forced Emiliano Martinez into a diving save. Watkins was denied by rushing Meslier in the closing stages, and at the other end McGinn produced a brilliant last-minute tackle on Leeds substitute Mateusz Klich after Bamford galloped into the box.
The home fans let out a huge roar at the final whistle after their side hung on, with resounding chants of “you’re not fit to referee”, directed at Attwell.