Leeds United desperately rescued a replay from the jaws of defeat in what would have been yet another shock FA Cup third-round exit as Sonny Perkins scored a 93rd-minute equaliser against Cardiff City.
The 20th-placed and lowest-scoring side in the Championship bagged two goals inside seven first-half minutes to send the Whites in at the break to a chorus of boos.
Jesse Marsch waited until the hour mark to make any sort of change to his woeful-looking starting XI and those tweaks may have just swung the game in their favour, with Rodrigo making a massive impact by scoring just five minutes later.
Did Leeds make a mistake with Llorente’s new deal?
He did go onto miss a penalty but another substitute in Perkins saved the day in the dying embers.
Whilst the American did rotate a bulk of his usual starters, there were still several key names featuring from the off, if not a few players that needed to prove their worth.
Junior Firpo was one that was handed a rare opportunity and perhaps he received some unfair slack as he not only won the penalty with his neat footwork but he also assisted the all-important equaliser. The ex-Barcelona ace did look rusty but he’s hardly played since last season.
The performance from his defensive counterpart Diego Llorente was far, far worse.
The Spaniard, who only signed a new £45k-per-week contract a few weeks ago, was arguably at fault for both of the Bluebirds’ goals, with LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross lambasting him for ‘ball-watching’ and being ‘sloppy.’
Similarly, Graham Smyth of the Yorkshire Evening Post described it as “desperately poor defending” from the 29-year-old.
Elsewhere, BBC journalist Pete Allison and CBS Sports’ Jake Winderman were even more scathing, with the former suggesting that he was “terrified” of Cardiff and the latter claiming that the defence looked “even worse than usual” because of Llorente, who was an “absolute joke.”
What makes the performance even worse was the fact that Llorente had plenty of involvement in Leeds’ game, registering a whopping 104 touches of the ball, which was the second-most in the game, via Sofascore.
The £18m signing from Real Sociedad did manage to put in three interceptions, win one tackle and dominate in his duels with 100% of them being won but it’s hard to overlook just how poor he was with the eye test, being unable to stop two attacks from second-tier opposition that hardly looked threatening.
As such, Llorente will do well to keep his place in the starting XI when they head to Aston Villa in the Premier League on Friday night.
AND in other news, Marsch could finally ditch Forshaw in Leeds deal for “powerful” 21 y/o titan…