‘Leeds United were RIGHT not to kick the ball out’, says former Aston Villa star Dean Saunders

‘Leeds United were RIGHT not to kick the ball out’, says former Aston Villa star Dean Saunders

Dean Saunders has criticised the Aston Villa players for trying to stop play during their controversial draw with Championship rivals Leeds United on Sunday.

There was a mass brawl on the Elland Road pitch after Leeds opened the scoring with Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia lying on the turf injured.

A brawl broke out in remarkable scenes at Elland Road

Villa players reacted angrily after they called for their opponents to kick the ball out of play, only for Mateusz Klich to play on and score with an excellent finish.

There was fury on both benches, too, as Aston Villa boss Dean Smith and his coaching team argued with Marcelo Bielsa, while the referee struggled to control the commotion.

Bielsa ultimately instructed his players to let the visitors score straight from the restart, although some were not happy with the decision, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Pontus Jansson did not agree with the decision to allow Villa to score

Leeds came under fire for their players’ apparently unsportsmanlike conduct.

But Saunders insists the United stars were well within in their right to play on, saying Villa players were actually at fault for the incident.

“Leeds shouldn’t have kicked the ball out of play – it wasn’t a head injury, it was a leg injury,” the Welshman, who spent three years at Villa, said on Final Word.

MORE: Aston Villa manager praises Marcelo Bielsea’s sportsmanship

“It’s up to the referee, the rules are the ref makes that decision to avoid things like this happening.

“He played on, so the Villa players shouldn’t have stopped. It’s not their right to point to kick the ball out of play.

Jonathan Kodjia lies on the floor injured, although he later walked off the pitch

“The [Leeds] lads have played the ball down the line and he’s taken the goal lovely, and it’s all kicked off.

“But, for me, they shouldn’t have kicked the ball out of the play. They should have played on until the referee blew his whistle.

“The rules are clear – if it’s a head injury you kick the ball out straight away to stop the game. If it’s not a head injury, play on until the referee blows his whistle.