Leeds United endured a disappointing return to Premier League action on Wednesday evening, with the Elland Road outfit slipping to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of champions Manchester City for what was their third successive top-flight loss.
While it may not have been quite as damaging as the two defeats to Pep Guardiola’s side last season – with City running out 11-0 winners on aggregate across their two league meetings – it was still a frustrating affair as far as the Whites are concerned, as they almost gifted the game to the visitors with some errant defending.
Having put up a stern fight in the opening 45, the hosts were then done on the counter in first half of stoppage time as Rodri fired the Etihad outfit ahead, with goalkeeper Illan Meslier seeing his parry fall right to the feet of the Spain international.
A dismal pass from captain Liam Cooper then allowed Erling Haaland the opportunity to extend that lead early in the second period, before the Leeds-born machine then doubled his tally soon after as the aforementioned Frenchman failed to keep his guided effort out.
While there was to be a late flicker of hope for Jesse Marsch’s men as Pascal Struijk headed home in the closing stages, that strike proved a mere consolation as the Yorkshire side were left to rue their defensive frailties once again.
It was not only the backline that underwhelmed last night, however, with in-form forward Rodrigo having offered little from his attacking berth as the Spaniard saw his rampant goalscoring run come to an end.
The former Valencia man had scored in each of his last four top-flight games prior to yesterday’s encounter – including a brace against Tottenham Hotspur last time out – although was unable to maintain that hot streak against the title challengers, having been a ‘non-entity‘ on the night, in the words of Leeds Live’s Beren Cross.
That lack of impact was laid bare by the fact that the 31-year-old made just 24 touches in total in his 72-minute outing prior to being withdrawn, with that figure fewer than that of teammate Meslier in the sticks (40).
The Brazil-born menace also failed to win a single duel and lost possession on five occasions from his 18 passes in total, having made some ‘strange decisions‘ on the ball in truth, according to Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Graham Smyth.
While the experienced asset did register one key pass before being hooked late on, that was seemingly the extent of his involvement in an attacking sense, with Marsch having needed “much more” from the club’s leading scorer, according to journalist James Marshment.
Rodrigo’s inability to pose a threat in that limp showing – in which he recorded just a 6.5 match rating, as per Sofascore – will be a real source of frustration for his manager, with Marsch likely hoping that the £58k-per-week star can get back to his best in the upcoming clash with Newcastle United on New Year’s Eve.