Leeds started out with a fairly strong side despite making nine changes from the Sunday win against Bolton Wanderers, featuring the debut of a few Leeds players, with Caleb Ekuban, Samu Saiz, Mateusz Klich, and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. Coming on in the second half for Leeds was Madger Gomes, who also made his Leeds debut tonight. Despite having a good amount of pressure in the first half, Leeds were unable to score more than one goal, and Port Vale was able to exploit some sloppy Leeds defending to draw level.
The second half featured a bit of magic from Samu Saiz and substitute Gianni Alioski, as the Spaniard Saiz scored two more goals to seal a hat-trick on his debut for Leeds and Alioski did well to create a few chances, one of those going to Caleb Ekuban who was also able to score on his debut. In all, Leeds coasted to a 4-1 victory over the League Two side in stylish fashion, which some well written preview had predicted.
After trading a few chances in the opening 10 minutes, Leeds scored after the Port Vale keeper misjudged a cross from Dallas that rebounded into space that Samuel Saiz was able to control and put into the back of the net. Saiz had plenty of time to collect the ball and was able to stick it home, despite putting it off the post.
Leeds spent most of the first half with good possession on the ball, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson looking lively going forward. Leeds had a number of chances that were wasted by the Leeds attacking players, with Ekuban missing out on a couple decent looks.
37' Goal Port Vale, ex Leeds midfielder Michael Tonge reacts first to a long throw and finds the net 1-1— Leeds United (@LUFC) August 9, 2017
Port Vale drew level with Leeds in the 36th minute after he beat Luke Ayling to a flicked on ball from a thrown-in into the Leeds box. The former Leeds United midfielder scored against the run of play, but you only get credit for goals, not style, in football and so the team was level.
Yellow card - Klich pulls back Pyke as as the forward breaks over the halfway line. 40th minute. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 9, 2017
Matesuz Klich got a yellow card on his debut for blocking off Port Vale’s Pyke as the Leeds player stopped a breakout by Port Vale after a Stuart Dallas free kick only got as far as the wall.
Gaving Gunning of Port Vale got a yellow yard taking down Samu Saiz late in injury time, and the match was level at half-time after a number of good chances and good pressure from Leeds on the Staffordshire club.
Port Vale was forced to change keepers at the half, with young loanee Sam Hornby taking over for Robert Lainton. Leeds once again had a majority of the possession in the early part of the 2nd half, with Vieira firing over the net from long range in the 51st minute.
Port Vale had a good chance in the second half as Pyke was able to beat Vurnon Anita and get into the Leeds box but his cut back went nowhere. Samu Saiz kept dancing around the Port Vale defenders and the team finally resorted to kick him repeatedly.
Sacko and Klich were taken off in the 57th minute for Liam Bridcutt and Gianni Alioski, and very soon after it, the magic started for Leeds.
61' Vieira plays Saiz in on goal, he takes it around the goalkeeper and slots it home! 2-1— Leeds United (@LUFC) August 9, 2017
Another fine finish - another ball into the box, Saiz takes it in his stride and pings it into the top corner. Bit of a masterclass this.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 9, 2017
In about three minutes of game time, Samuel Saiz took over the match. After being played in by Vieira, Saiz did very well to dribble the ball around Hornby and slot the ball home to give Leeds the lead.
Three minutes later Saiz sealed his hat-trick on his debut for the club. After a give and go on the right edge of the Port Vale box, Saiz took the ball into in the box, and with the defender on the wrong side of him, he was able to get a good low shot into the back of the net that Hornby had no chance to get to.
Gianni Alioski was sprung free in the 79th minute for an absolute laser bolt of a shot that Hornby did well to get his glove up and send the ball over the net for a corner kick that fell harmlessly to Vieira.
Caleb Ekuban added a 4th goal in the 84th minute as Alioski dribbled approximately 27 miles, squared the ball on the floor where Saiz stepped over the ball to free up space for Ekuban to fire the ball home. Just a fantastic goal from the Leeds team to break free in space and use their pace to overwhelm their opponents.
RED CARD: Gunning second yellow for a foul on Alioski. 88th minute. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 9, 2017
Gavin Gunning showed the frustration that Port Vale players must have had in the 88th minute by hacking down Alioski in a rather stupid challenge after the ball was long gone. Gunning deservedly was shown a second yellow to end his match a little early.
Samuel Saiz fired the ball over the net in injury time and Bridcutt shot wide about a minute later, but by this time the match had long been won by Leeds and the players just seemed to be shooting for fun while the Port Vale players just chased the ball around. Michael Tonge took a late shot that went well over the goal in the final kick of the match.
Leeds ended up coasting in the final half hour or so, but it was a tad concerning that the team was only able to manage one goal for the first sixty minutes or so. The introduction of Gianni Alioski on the right over Hadi Sacko, the walking turnover, was one of the turning points in the match, and while Bridcutt may not have the pace to keep up with the team on a regular basis, his introduction in the middle had a chilling effect on the physicality of the Port Vale players who seemed to be reduced to just kicking the Leeds players as they danced past them.
So Leeds will go Marching On Together to the next round of the Carabao Cup. Will they repeat last year’s impressive run? The depth in this team is fantastic, and the first choice attacking players have a chance to be something special. Besides the thin depth on defence, this looks to be an incredible year for Leeds. Of course, the Championship is a marathon, not a sprint, so it remains to be seen if the team can sustain this pace, but whatever. It’s fun to be a fan again. MOT