By George Overhill

13th Aug, 2022 | 5:34pm

BT Sport pundits clash live over Leeds United Diego Llorente controversy at Southampton

Leeds United defender Diego Llorente escaped a red card against Southampton but should have been sent off, according to Peter Walton.

The former Premier League official reacted amid a disagreement between BT Sport pundits Jermaine Beckford and Steve Sidwell over the first-half sequence in the 2-2 draw, which led to a lengthy VAR review that came down on the United man’s side.

The Spanish defender got the slightest touch on the ball when he brought down the Saints forward Stuart Armstrong a quarter-hour into the match at St Mary’s, and was inches away from walking as he was the last man and the attacker would have otherwise been clean through on goal.

Speaking live on BT Sport Score on Saturday afternoon (13 August, 3.17pm) Beckford said: “Clean through, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, Llorente, he had him for pace as well. Great last-ditch challenge, took the player, took the ball, fair challenge. Absolutely fantastic. VAR check, rightly so it wasn’t given. Brilliant football from Leeds”

Sidwell jumped in with: “He should go. He’s got the player first then the ball.”

Beckford disagreed and argued: “He’s absolutely won the ball.”

Walton was then brought in and added: “I think Llorente’s a lucky man here you know. Yes he’s won the ball, but he’s won the ball eventually, and VAR took a long, long time to look at this and gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“I actually think he’s got away with one there because if you look at it he’s caught the man first, then he’s got the ball. It’s a foul.”

Finally, Beckford conceded: “It was touch and go. It was touch and go.”

Close one

It was disappointing enough to see the Whites come away with a point when they had the game in the hands after taking a two goal lead in the second half.

Rodrigo, wearing the armband after the injury to Patrick Bamford that the entire fanbase has feared all summer, took the match by the scruff of the neck and scored twice, suggesting he may be becoming the key man the club has always hoped for.

But the defence was a mess with captain Liam Cooper again missing and the home side were able to take advantage to battle back for a point through Joe Aribo and Kyle Walker-Peters.

Had Llorente been sent packing after just 15 minutes it is unlikely that Leeds United would have even got a point, unless they had been able to entirely shut up shop and play for a 0-0.

It was a decision that could have gone either way but was probably just about right once it went to video review, since he got contact on the ball.

Had he been shown red it probably wouldn’t have been overturned however, and that near-miss, coupled with the inability to keep out an embattled Saints side in the second half proves there is a lot of work to be done at the back.

Going forward this side has a lot of potential, although Dan James being drafted in after injuries to Bamford and Joe Gelhardt brings that down a peg or two after the substitute disappointed and was himself replaced late on.

But at the back there are big questions to be answered before the close of the transfer window.

In other Leeds united news, the player ratings from the game had one clear star but some major flops in an uneven display.