Marcelo Bielsa was asked afterwards how his heart had coped with such an extraordinarily thrilling encounter. Tapping his chest, the Leeds boss fixed his inquisitor with a wry smile.
‘I’m alive,’ said Bielsa through his translator. Cue laughter all round. Life as a football manager does not get much better than days like these.
A winning goal five minutes into stoppage time, defeat for nearest rivals West Brom, and a return to the Championship summit.
An injury-time own goal gifted promotion hopefuls Leeds a dramatic win against Birmingham
Crucially, amid all the drama, a step closer to the Premier League.
It was 2004 when Leeds were relegated from the top flight and not much has gone right since.
Under Bielsa, though, the fallen Yorkshire giants have finally stirred and are enjoying a genuine renaissance.
They finished third last season in the Argentine’s debut campaign before suffering a fifth successive play-off failure.
Lukas Jutkiewicz’s second goal of the encounter appeared to have secured the hosts a point
This last-gasp win, courtesy of Wes Harding’s late own-goal, left them nine points clear of third-placed Fulham.
But Leeds do nothing the easy way and have conceded 10 goals in their last four games – as many as they did in their first 21 league encounters this season.
That is genuine cause for concern and they wobbled alarmingly again here, allowing Birmingham to come back from 2-0 down to level before being pegged back twice more at 3-2 and then 4-3.
After his side ended a three-match winless streak, Bielsa reflected: ‘We had a high efficiency to score.
‘We are a team that need a lot of chances to score and we didn’t have safety in defence.
Helder Costa latched on to Jack Harrison’s pass and slotted home the opening goal of the clash
‘Of course I would like to try to control the match while we were winning, not just when we are losing.
‘We conceded four goals and after maybe you think it’s natural we scored five goals.
‘Analysing these past four matches is very hard but so is analysing 20 games.’
Bielsa started on-loan striker Eddie Nketiah, who could be recalled by Arsenal in January, with Patrick Bamford missing with a minor quad injury.
In the 15th minute, Leeds fashioned a delightful counter-attack which led to Jack Harrison finding Helder Costa, who fired a low, left-foot shot past Connal Trueman.
Six minutes later, the visitors struck again.
Substitute Jeremie Bela was also on the score sheet as Birmingham battled back late on
This time Stuart Dallas’ right-wing cross found Ezgjan Alioski and the Macedonian laid the ball off to Harrison, who hit a powerful left-foot strike which deflected past Trueman and into the net.
Birmingham steadied themselves and in the 27th minute Maxime Colin picked out 16-year-old Jude Bellingham, who rifled a low shot past Kiko Casilla.
That poured confidence into Clotet’s side and they claimed a deserved leveller in the 61st minute.
Casilla kept out an initial header from a Birmingham corner but parried the ball straight to Lukas Jutkiewicz, who headed home from close range to make it 2-2.
In the 69th minute, the ubiquitous Luke Ayling hit a fine right-foot volley which flew in, but Birmingham simply refused to lie down.
In the 83rd minute, substitute Jeremie Bela headed home a free-kick to make it 3-3 before Leeds immediately regained the lead.
The ball fell kindly to Dallas inside the box and the Ulsterman lashed a left-foot shot past Trueman from close range.
Jutkiewicz then slid home at the far post in the last minute before Harding diverted Ayling’s right-wing cross into his own net in the fifth minute of added time, sparking wild scenes in the away end.
Wes Harding put through his own net deep into stoppage time to hand Leeds the three points
It is now just one win in 11 games for Birmingham and Clotet accused referee Keith Stroud of costing his side dear. The Spaniard said: ‘We would have deservedly got a point had the ref not given Leeds a corner for their last goal.
‘It was a clear goal-kick and out of nothing he gave them a corner from which they scored. Leeds benefited from a lot of the decisions that strangely went their way the whole game.
‘It’s something that is always happening to Birmingham City and it makes me very disappointed.
‘We keep saying it to the FA and the FA agreed with us – saying we have been having a lot of decisions against us this season. They want to come and see us to talk about at the beginning of January. But what we want is to be treated fairly.’