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Liam Cooper saved Leeds from jaws of defeat vs Aston Villa

A ten-man Leeds United side battled to secure a point against Aston Villa at Elland Road on Sunday night and manager Jesse Marsch, who was banished to the stands due to his own suspension, has returning skipper Liam Cooper to thank.

The Whites were finally back in Premier League action after a 29-day absence and a packed crowd got to witness an ill-tempered affair which saw Luis Sinisterra sent off for a second bookable offence after he blocked Douglas Luiz’s quick free-kick just three minutes into the second half.

Who was your MOTM vs Villa?

COOPER

COOPER

KOCH

KOCH

ADAMS

ADAMS

MESLIER

MESLIER

Villa launched something of an onslaught but struggled to penetrate Illan Meslier’s net as the visitors racked up a whopping 19 shots, compared to Leeds’ seven, of which six were on target.

And with Steven Gerrard’s side also registering 56% possession, it was certainly one-way traffic for much of the game in west Yorkshire.

However, Cooper and his backline remained resolute as the Scotland international shone through as the pick of the bunch; summed up by BBC broadcaster Adam Pope, the veteran centre-back “set the example” as he and his teammates put in “tremendous running and heroic defending.”

Also lauded as “solid” by TEAMtalk editor James Marshment, the 31-year-old colossus won four aerial duels – the most of his team – and put in a match-high eight clearances to ensure that the danger was well away from Meslier’s goal, as per SofaScore.

Elsewhere, Cooper remained calm under constant pressure as he recorded 59 touches and 37 accurate passes, losing possession only ten times.

If it weren’t for the long-serving skipper, then Marsch may have been in danger of tasting defeat at Elland Road because the alternative, Diego Llorente, may well have crumbled given his poor form over the past 12 to 18 months.

Indeed, the Spaniard has been described as a “massive liability” to this team, so the American can count his lucky stars that the £6.5k-per-week titan is back from injury.

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It was a well-deserved point for Leeds and that was largely down to Cooper, who not only stepped up in the absence of Marsch on the sideline but helped steer them from the jaws of defeat after going a man down so early after the break.

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