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Marcelo Bielsa won’t criticise VAR ruling after Leeds lose at Crystal Palace

Xenia Sports – London 

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa refused to criticise the decision to rule out Patrick Bamford’s first-half strike during his side’s 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace.

It was second time this week the Whites had lost by that score, after going down at home to Leicester on Monday, but it could have been different had the video assistant referee not deemed the forward’s effort in the 17th minute to be offside.

Bamford pointed to where he wanted Mateusz Klich to pass the ball and it cost him when a review adjudged his outstretched arm was beyond the last defender before he scooped past Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Not long after Ebere Eze added to Scott Dann’s opener with his first goal for the club to make it 2-0.

And although ex-Palace loanee Bamford did pull one back, Helder Costa’s own-goal and Jordan Ayew’s second-half strike consigned Leeds to a painful loss.

“The defeat is fair but the difference is exaggerated and the goals Crystal Palace scored arrived at the time when we deserved to score,” Bielsa said.

“Whatever the referee whistles, he whistles and I never comment on his decision. If the rules need to be changed, there is a lot of people dedicated to this.”

Mike Dean was the man at Stockley Park in charge of VAR for this clash at Selhurst Park where Leeds were eager to bounce back.

Bielsa made two changes to the side which suffered a three-goal reverse to Leicester and Pablo Hernandez was a notable absentee.

The Argentinian confirmed the influential midfielder was not injured and merely not part of the matchday squad in London.

“I evaluate all the players before the game and I didn’t pick him for this game,” Bielsa added.

“The decision may seem strange but I choose the 18 players I feel are most apt for the game.”

Palace, like Leeds, entered the fixture after a defeat and Roy Hodgson recalled James McArthur, Eze and Ayew to his starting XI.

It proved inspired, especially the decision to bring ex-QPR playmaker Eze into the side. The 22-year-old delivered the corner for Dann’s first goal since December 2017 in the 12th minute before producing a wonderful free-kick midway through the opening period.

“That was arguably one of the most perfect free-kicks ever executed and I don’t think a goalkeeper could ever be expected to stop that,” Hodgson said.

“He has looked at home ever since he arrived and his training sessions have been constantly impressive.

“We have always known we have bought the right person and someone who will serve the club in very good stead in years to come.

“He has had to be a bit patient because Andros Townsend and Jeff Schlupp are very good players in that position too, so it’s been nice to have that option.

“It felt the right time today to unleash him as it were and he certainly responded and lived up to the expectations I have of him.”

Leeds director of football Victor Orta was a vocal spectator and made his frustration at Bamford’s disallowed goal clear before he lambasted Palace’s decision not to kick the ball out when Klich was injured in the build-up to Eze’s free-kick.

But Hodgson added: “I can honestly say I didn’t hear it because my focus on the game is so intent.”

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