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Leeds are not losing their nerve, says Bielsa

London (AFP) – Marcelo Bielsa refused to put Leeds’s alarming slump in form in the Championship down to a loss of nerve even after a 1-0 defeat by QPR left them just four points above third-placed Fulham.

A controversial Nakhi Wells goal — he scored after controlling the ball with his hand — left Leeds with just one win in their last seven matches in the second tier.

They are a point behind leaders West Brom, who can extend their lead to four if they beat Stoke on Monday.

However, more crucially Bielsa’s side have seen their advantage over the third-placed side eroded from 11 to four points in the past five weeks.

Fulham occupy third spot after beating Middlesbrough 1-0 on Friday.

Bielsa denied it was a similar picture to last season when a terrible run of form cost them a place in the top two and a return to the top tier for the first time since they were relegated in the 2003/04 campaign. 

“I don’t think there’s a lack of confidence or that it’s about nerves,” said Bielsa, who also faces three games without influential midfielder Kalvin Phillips after he was sent off towards the end of normal time.

“There were moments where we lacked efficiency but I don’t think this happened because of a lack of confidence,” added the 64-year-old Argentine.

Patrick Bamford should have secured a share of the points, the striker having a second-half penalty saved by goalkeeper Liam Kelly.

The 26-year-old striker also missed a host of other chances.

“It’s clear that we have not taken advantage of our chances,” said Bielsa.

“We have to have a lot of chances to score one goal.”

Leeds’s best hope of a return to the top flight is that those chasing them drop points.

Brentford could have closed the gap to three points but were held 0-0 by struggling Huddersfield Town.

The fight for the play-offs saw Swansea take advantage of a horror show by Sheffield Wednesday — who had Massimo Luongo player sent off and were thrashed 5-0 by Blackburn Rovers.

Swansea replaced them in the top six after beating Wigan 2-1.

Indeed the ‘Swans’ may have rediscovered their early season vim thanks to some judicious loan signings by Steve Cooper.

He lured three of the players — Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster and Chelsea’s midfielder and defender Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi — who under his management won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Their arrivals at the club paid off with Gallagher setting up Brewster for their first goal with Ghanaian veteran Andre Ayew scoring his 12th of the season for the winner.

Millwall beat Reading 2-0 to keep the pressure on the four sides occupying the play-off spots — they are seventh only due to inferior goal difference to Nottingham Forest.

However, the match was overshadowed by allegations of fans yelling homophobic abuse which led to an appeal over the public address sytem at half-time for them to desist.       

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