Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa had no regrets about playing a young side, but admitted his team deserved to lose their FA Cup third round tie at Queens Park Rangers.
A United side with an average age of 22 and a bench completely made up of academy players battled to make a game of it at Loftus Road, but after conceding first they went on to lose 2-1 and it is now three straight defeats for Bielsa’s men.
Although Aapo Halme scored his first goal in Leeds colours, Jake Bidwell’s header from a corner in the 75th minute earned a stronger QPR side a place in the fourth-round draw.
“The first thing we always do is evaluate if we deserved to lose. The second thing is we do is evaluate the negative things and the positive things. We correct the negative things and underline the positive ones,” said Bielsa.
“I’m never happy when I lose a game, no matter if the consequence are positive or not.
“In the last two games in the league, in spite of the mistakes we made, the positive things made us think we deserved to win. I can’t say the same for today. “I can’t say I’m not satisfied because our offensive play was good enough but when we look at the dangerous situations of the opponent, they had a common factor - that we lost the ball trying to make offensive passes.
“We lost because we didn’t deal with some balls we should have dealt with. We didn’t find the right solution from set-pieces.
“We took decisions that were not useful for us and we didn’t need to take those kind of decisions.
“Every week we designate a high percentage of our time to set-pieces. So we will look at what we have done wrong and try to correct it. You correct these things with experience.
“The performance from the players today was good. But we made too many mistakes and if you don’t defend well then it is very hard to win games.”
Despite their raw side Leeds were unlucky not to take the lead after just 28 seconds when a volley from striker Tyler Roberts smashed against one post before going across the goal-line to hit the other post and bounce clear.
As the game began to settle, though, Rangers showed that they were going to offer a threat, forcing Whites keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell into a good save as he tipped a low shot from Eberechi Eze wide.
Peacock-Farrell then palmed a Bidwell header from a corner over before saving Leeds again with a one-on-one stop after Eze had played in Bright Osayi-Samuel.
The keeper could not prevent the hosts from taking the lead, however, when teenage left back Davis brought down Bidwell in the area and Aramide Oteh put away the resulting penalty.
The response from United was great as within two minutes they levelled when home keeper Matt Ingram spilled a low free-kick from Lewis Baker and Halme pounced for a tap in.
Leeds then went close to taking the lead soon after as Roberts’ close range effort was tipped just wide by Ingram after he met Ezgjan Alioski’s cross.
But Peacock-Farrell had to save again to deny Osman Kakay after Baker gave away the ball on the edge of the area.
Alioski went close twice for the Whites with Eze hitting a shot over for Rangers and Oteh sending an effort off target.
Halme was taken off at half-time, for tactical reasons according to Bielsa, after he had been booked and Tom Pearce came on with Davis switching to centre-back
Leeds dominated possession for a spell, but struggled to create clear chances, although Roberts saw an effort blocked after good build-up play involving Jamie Shackleton and Jack Harrison.
At the other end, Peacock-Farrell saved well as he flew through the air to divert Jordan Cousins’s shot onto the post.
Rangers looked dangerous from corners and from one of them Darnell Furlong headed just over.
Peacock-Farrell continued to save Leeds as he tipped a Bidwell header just wide, but Bidwell was to beat him with a header from a corner in the 75th minute to score what turned out to be the winner.
Again, United responded, but Harrison’s effort was blocked by Ingram.
There were no further chances for Leeds and their hosts could have added to the lead late on when Luke Freeman’s free-kick hit the post.
(Oteh 23, pen, Bidwell 75)
Leeds United 1
Sunday, January 6, 2019
FA Cup third round
QPR: Ingram, Kakay, Furlong, Hall, Bidwell, Osayi-Samuel (Wszolek 86), Scowen, Cousins, Freeman, Eze (Smith 90), Oteh (Chair 83).
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell, Shackleton, Halme (Pearce 45, Temenuzhkov 79), Ayling, Davis (Oduor 87), Forshaw, Clarke, Baker, Roberts, Alioski, Harrison.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham