Marcelo Bielsa hailed Leeds’ display in their 3-1 win against Tottenham at Elland Road as one of their best of the season.
Stuart Dallas gave Leeds an early lead and, although Son Heung-min equalised, Patrick Bamford restored the home side’s advantage before half-time and substitute Rodrigo slammed home a late third.
It was another impressive performance by Bielsa’s side against one of the top-flight’s ‘big six’ as Tottenham’s Champions League hopes were dealt a major blow.
“Considering the fortitude of the opponent and the way we attacked and defended, and the possibilities of playing on even terms, it’s one of the best of the season,” Bielsa said.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a string of crucial saves, including efforts to deny Bamford and Mateusz Klich, but the visitors were not without chances.
Harry Kane had a first-half effort ruled out by a marginal VAR offside decision and after the break struck the crossbar with a free-kick, while Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier kept out Serge Aurier’s thumping near-post shot.
“We could have scored more goals, but we could have conceded more as well,” Bielsa said.
“I think the difference of two goals is adequate. To have won by more goals, it would not have corresponded, even if it was possible.
“To have won by only one goal, I also don’t think it would have been fair, but I think they could have closed the distance too.”
Tottenham had a huge incentive to secure a third straight league win under interim boss Ryan Mason, but were criticised for failing to match Leeds’ desire.
“The comparison you made is not the exact one I would make between the two teams,” Bielsa added.
“I don’t think they played without enthusiasm. On our part, I link it to the spirit of the players.”
Mason’s disappointment was evident when asked if defeat had dashed his side’s chances of a top-four finish.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Look, today is a disappointing result for us. We wanted to come here and win the game. We haven’t done that.
“That’s very disappointing. We have to get over this and we have to work well this week and hopefully get three points next weekend.”
Kane’s disallowed effort came in the first half with the score at 1-1 and Mason felt the England striker had been onside.
“Of course (it could have changed the game),” he said. “Goals change games of football.
“I’ll be honest, when I saw it on the touchline I thought it was onside. The first time I watched it I thought it was onside and I’ve watched it three or four times since and my opinion hasn’t changed on that.”
When asked if his players had shown enough intensity, Mason added: “I did. Yes I did.
“(Leeds) are probably the fittest team in the Premier League so we knew it was going to be difficult early on. The players showed they wanted to win.”