Both Aston Villa and Leeds were forced to come from behind at different times as the two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Villa Park.
It was the hosts who started brightly, but the home fans were quickly silenced when Dan James fired past Emiliano Martinez on nine minutes. Rodrigo pinched the ball from Tyrone Mings on the edge of the area to find James and the winger beat the Villa goalkeeper with a smart low finish to hand the visitors the lead against the run of play.
James almost made it two when his long-range effort rattled the woodwork, but minutes later Villa were level. Philippe Coutinho collected Matty Cash’s cross and, with Leeds standing off him, steered the ball low into the corner.
The turnaround was complete eight minutes later and Coutinho was heavily involved again. The Brazilian produced a sublime turn to get away from Luke Ayling before splitting open the Leeds defence with a perfectly weighted through ball for Ramsey, finished past Illan Meslier to hand Villa the lead.
The goals continued to come in an exhilarating first half and it was the Coutinho and Ramsey show again for Villa. Coutinho released Ramsey once again and the midfielder struck high into the net to spark wild celebrations from the home fans.
However, Leeds grabbed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time as when James grabbed his second of the game, heading Rodrigo’s deflected cross home at the far post.
After the break, Mings was in the right place at the right time to clear Pascal Struijk’s goalbound header, but the England captain was at fault for Leeds’ equaliser. His poor clearance went only as far as Diego Llorente, who hammered the ball home to bring the scores level again.
The drama continued late into the game as Esri Konsa was shown a red card three minutes from time for a second bookable offence, but it wasn’t to have an impact on the result as the hosts held firm through eight minutes of stoppage time to earn a share of the spoils on what was an enthralling night at Villa Park.
Aston Villa: Martinez (6), Cash (6), Konsa (5), Mings (5), Digne (6), Luiz (6), McGinn (6), Buendia (7), Ramsey (8), Coutinho (9), Watkins (6).
Subs: Chukwuemeka (6), Young (n/a), Chambers (n/a).
Leeds: Meslier (6), Ayling (6), Koch (6), Struijk (6), Llorente (7), Dallas (6), Klich (6), Raphinha (5), James (8), Harrison (7), Rodrigo (7).
Subs: Forshaw (n/a).
Man of the match: Philippe Coutinho.
Gerrard: ‘It was frantic’ | Bielsa: ‘Draw a fair result’
It was the sort of game the neutrals love but not the coaches. They’ll have to sit down and watch all the drama unfold again as they look to analyse the good and the bad from their sides.
“We wanted to take the sting out of the game,” said Villa boss Steven Gerrard.
“It felt like a basketball game in the first half. It was frantic, end-to-end and 100 mph. We almost brought into the Leeds style and we needed more calm heads out there so it looked more like our style.
“It would have been unfair to go in 3-1 up I think. Leeds deserved that goal. They had a lot of movement and runners outside. We didn’t have the same creativity ourselves going forward in the second half.
“A draw was the right result. A fun game for the fans tonight but not one for the coaches! There was a lot to be pleased about in terms of our forward-play. Defensively we have to improve but Leeds are really unique. It was a wonderful game, just not for me!
“We’re still learning a lot about the players and they are about us. Leeds take you places you don’t want to go. They have pace and talent. We will try and improve but sometimes you have to pay credit to the opposition as well.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa added: “It was a disputed game. The dominance was alternate with moments for one team with possibilities and then the other way around as well.
“At the start, I don’t know exactly when we were dominating until and were superior but some things we didn’t continue doing and the game became unbalanced.
“It was difficult but we got a stimulus at the end of the first half which got us closer. In the second half, we slowly started to deserve a draw. A draw was the fair result.”