On the pitch and in the directors’ box, they know how to do late drama at Elland Road. After successive injury-time rescue acts, there was the sight of Leeds’ chief executive restraining Victor Orta, their transfer chief, as he argued with one of his own supporters.
Marcelo Bielsa’s team may not be the entertainers of last season but they have a knack for exciting finales. After snatching a last-gasp victory against Crystal Palace, they needed Patrick Bamford to earn a point in the 95th minute here. No team in the Premier League has scored more times when the game goes into stoppages.
It felt like victory as Bamford, returning after more than two months out with an ankle injury, ran off to celebrate by whirling his shirt around his head after kneeing in his equaliser with almost the last kick of the game. Orta felt it was time to give a riposte to what he heard from the crowd, with security and CEO Angus Kinnear holding him back.
Bamford’s return for Leeds is timely, given their next run of games sees them face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. While he was in the treatment room, Leeds managed just eight goals in 11 games, but it took him less than half an hour to get back scoring after being introduced as a substitute.
"I felt rusty as hell to be honest," he said. "Sometimes, when you're out injured you become a better player all of a sudden. There was a bit of pressure but to score is always nice especially as it rescued a point. I always felt once I was on the pitch I was going to get a touch."
Leeds could also face a Football Association investigation after Sergi Canos was floored by a missile thrown from the crowd after helping inspire a turnaround for Thomas Frank’s team and putting them within sight of victory during a match where momentum shifted.
Earlier Tyler Roberts had opened the scoring for Leeds, with his first goal at Elland Road for 501 days, since netting against Charlton Athletic in the Championship, and just his second in the Premier League.
Despite his lack of success in front of goal, he finished the opener in the style of a striker. Raphinha had set up the chance after his initial cross was cleared by former Leeds centre-back Pontus Jansson. His second attempt curved behind the Brentford backline and allowed Roberts to slide in and side-foot in.
With Ivan Toney ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19, Frank’s team relied on attacking as a group and swung the game around with their neat passing in dangerous areas.
Their equaliser stemmed from the perseverance of Rico Henry chasing down a seemingly lost cause on the left flank and keeping the ball in play. It allowed Canos cross, which flicked off Diego Llorente for Shandon Baptiste to volley into the bottom corner.
Brentford had taken advantage of Kalvin Phillips picking up an injury and scoring when the England midfielder was struggling. He was then taken off and headed straight down the tunnel for treatment, with the visitors scoring their second.
"Yes it had an influence which isn’t to say we shouldn’t be in a position to play with one player less," said Bielsa.
For his goal, Canos exchanged passes with Baptiste and Bryan Mbeumo, whose reverse ball opened up the Leeds defence. As Illan Meslier rushed out, Canos found the roof of the net. He was floored by a plastic object in the celebrations in front of the North East Corner, but was on his feet soon enough to continue.
Bamford had the last word, forcing the ball in off the bar after Luke Ayling had flicked on Raphinha’s corner. "Patrick scored a goalscorer’s goal," said Bielsa. "The time of the pitch he came on was difficult to find the ball but finally he gave us the equaliser that is very valuable for our expectations given how we got it."
Despite the draw, Frank felt it was points dropped consider the way his team played without Toney. "At this moment, my feeling is definitely not to celebrate," he said.
"What I will celebrate is the performance. We are going up here without key players, no complaints, I know Leeds have injuries but when you have the lowest budget, it hits harder when you are missing key players in key positions. Looking at the game, it was a top performance."