Leeds United will take a goal advantage back to Elland Road after winning their play-off semi-final 1-0 at Derby County, but the lead does not make them comfortable according to Marcelo Bielsa.
The Whites head coach pointed to what has just happened in the Champions League semi-finals to show there is a lot of football to play before a Wembley place is sealed - but he was pleased with the way his players handled the first leg.
“I think it was a deserved win,” said Bielsa.
“Apart from the first minutes of the first half and then 10 or 15 minutes in the second half, we dominated the ball, we defended well, we created danger, we had chances to be more dangerous.
“It’s an advantage but it’s not a decisive advantage.
“We still have 90 minutes to play and we only have a difference of one goal. If we take as a reference what happened in the last Champions League games, we shouldn’t draw conclusions about it.”
Leeds were deserved winners by more than the one goal scored by Kemar Roofe early in the second half, but the result hinged on a big change of decision by referee Craig Pawson.
The official initially pointed to the spot in the 77th minute after a coming together in the box between Jack Harrison and Derby full-back Jayden Bogle. But after consulting with his assistant, Eddie Smart, who had a better view, he reversed his decision, much to the anger of the home contingent.
Replays showed it would have been a harsh penalty as Harrison was covering back well and did not appear to make much contact, if any with Bogle and it was to Pawson’s credit that he changed his mind, although poor in the first place that he seemed to guess it was a spot kick.
Earlier Pawson had made a great play-on decision to allow Stuart Dallas to play the ball forward in the move that led to United’s goal. Jack Harrison took full advantage with a peach of a low cross that was put away by Roofe for what proved the only goal of the game after 55 minutes.
Derby, who had previously lost twice to Leeds in the league, had their only real bright spell at the start when Tom Lawrence sent a shot wide from distance and David Nugent was slipped in only to have his angled shot well blocked by Gaetano Berardi, who was playing centre-back in place of the injured Pontus Jansson.
But Leeds gradually took control of possession although they failed to create many clear chances in the first half.
Dallas hit a bending effort just over from the edge of the box, Roofe sent an overhead wide and Jamie Shackleton - on as an early substitute for the injured Adam Forshaw - miskicked when well placed.
The best opportunity of the half came just before the break when Roofe had a clear sight of goal only to put in a poor effort.
The second half followed the same pattern with Leeds dominating possession. Harrison saw his effort blocked before Roofe got the big goal.
Within a minute they should have been two up as Roofe was clean through again, but took an extra touch and saw his shot well saved by Derby keeper Kelle Roos.
Another chance followed from the corner only for Roofe to head wide when free in the area.
Shackleton then blocked one effort at his own end before going on a lung busting race forward to get to the byline at the other. He pulled the ball back well, but Pablo Hernandez failed to get a shot in with the goal gaping.
Out of the blue Derby had their big moment with the penalty that wasn’t. They were fired up now and came forward more, but never threatened goalkeeper Kiko Casilla who did not have a shot to save all night.
It was Leeds who could have scored again when Shackleton’s well struck shot was saved by Roos.
There was no doubt they had deserved their victory, but they have to produce another good display in the second leg on Wednesday night.
Derby County 0
Leeds United 1
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Championship play-off semi-final, first leg
Derby: Roos; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone; Johnson, Wilson, Holmes (Bennett 70), Mount, Lawrence (Huddlestone 86), Nugent (Marriott 63).
Leeds: Casilla; Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Hernandez, Forshaw (Shackleton 23), Klich, Harrison, Roofe (Clarke 80).
Referee: Craig Pawson.