Noel Whelan has told BBC Radio Leeds (broadcast on 14/12; 17:06) that Kiko Casilla’s decision to come off his line before Cardiff City’s first goal was a key reason why Leeds United threw away their three-goal lead at Elland Road.
Leeds fans would be forgiven for feeling like they have suffered a defeat following the 3-3 draw with the Bluebirds. The Whites were outstanding for the first hour on Saturday and went 3-0 up.
However, Marcelo Bielsa’s side missed the chance to move back to the top of the Championship as Neil Harris’s men scored three times to earn a point.
The first came when Casilla came flying out for a cross and only punched it to Lee Tomlin inside the box. The forward then lifted the ball into the back of the net.
Ultimately, Cardiff would then score twice more late on to leave Yorkshire with a draw. And Whelan suggested that Casilla’s error was a key catalyst for the comeback.
“I guarantee you the two lads who were going up for the ball would have dealt with that and they wouldn’t have got that first goal there and then, and we probably would have gone on and won the game,” he told BBC Radio Leeds.
“The first goal is always pivotal for a side that’s 3-0 down, if you get it, it’s like it’s back to 2-0 and that’s twitchy. It’s never a done deal when it’s 2-0.
‘What were you doing?’
“But I don’t know what he’s thinking. If you’re going to come and punch, you’ve got to punch the whole lot and you’ve got to get distance. And you’ve got to put it out of play. You’ve got to send it 30 yards up the field. This was a flap. It was a poor punch, soft punch. Great finish, don’t get me wrong, but what were you doing?”
In fairness to Casilla, his decision-making has been significantly better this season. When he has decided to come for a cross, he has often made sure that the danger has been dealt with.
But, while there were two Cardiff players challenging for the cross, it would have arguably taken something special for the Spaniard to be beaten. The cross did not have too much pace on it, and the Leeds defenders may have ensured that they could not make great contact with the ball.
Leeds fans will be hoping that the draw acts as a wake-up call for the whole team, including Casilla. The nosedive his form took last season was dramatic, so the supporters will be hoping that he can put that mistake behind him quickly.