Aston Villa boss Dean Smith called Leeds United “the best side we’ve played” after they came back from two goals down to claim a stunning 3-2 stoppage-time win and go back to the top of the Championship.
Villa led 2-0 at half-time as Tammy Abraham’s seventh goal in his past four home games – a close-range finish set up by John McGinn’s bursting run – was quickly followed by Conor Hourihane’s beautifully placed low left-foot curler.
But Leeds struck twice in five second-half minutes to draw level as half-time substitute Jack Clarke’s stunning right-foot curler – his first goal for the club – was followed by a Pontus Jansson header.
And they won it five minutes into injury time when top scorer Kemar Roofe found the bottom corner to send the noisy visiting fans into raptures.
Marcelo Bielsa, the Leeds head coach, suggested that he would have settled for a point before Roofe scored.
“We were satisfied with the draw,” Bielsa said. “But we felt a lot of euphoria to win, especially as it was in the last minute. And we deserved to win. We put in a lot of effort. The performance of the players was all very good.”
Villa boss Smith said: “Going 2-0 up in a game like this, you expect to see it out, especially at Villa Park. But they’re the best side we’ve played so far and we got punished for our defensive lapses.”
Villa have conceded 22 goals in 12 home games this season – the worst home defensive record in the division.
“It’s happened too much,” said Smith. “And it has reared its ugly head again.
“They were probably better than us but a draw was a fair result. Instead, it’s my first defeat at Villa Park and it’s a hard one to take.
“From their celebrations, I thought they’d actually won the title.”
Bielsa was certainly not getting carried away, admitting: “We still have to play the same number of games. In football, you can’t make any provision for what happens next. We will just try to win the games one by one, when they come.”