Leeds United took on Derby County at Pride Park today, their debut match in their... interesting new away kits. Marcelo Bielsa chose to run out the exact same lineup as last week, notably leaving Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrington and Pontus Jansson on the bench.
The first half started out with a bang, as Mateusz Klich scored a stunning goal just 5 minutes in. Samuel Saiz found an unmarked Pablo Hernandez in the center of the pitch, and Pablo made the short pass to Klich, who curled the ball into the right side of the goal from outside the 18-yard box. It was a stunning strike that silenced Pride Park and highlighted the massive improvements that Klich has made over the offseason.
Leeds what a start of the season ✊ ✊ ✊— Hadi Sacko (@miimosaa) August 11, 2018
The lead would be short-lived however, as Derby scored on a Tom Lawrence free kick just six minutes later. Liam Cooper got beat by Lawrence and was forced to foul him on the edge of the box. Lawrence’s ensuing free kick knuckled quite a bit and caught Bailey Peacock-Farrell off-guard, as the ball went between his hands and into the upper part of the goal. Not a great look for BPF, but hopefully a mistake he will not repeat.
Fortunately for Leeds, in the 21st minute, Barry Douglas made an incredible sliding pass down the line to Ezgjain Alioski who whipped the ball in towards Kemar Roofe. The striker was able to head it across the face of the goal into the left side of the netting to make it 2-1.
Towards the end of the first half, Derby had a five minute run where they looked much more threatening, with one instance in the 42nd minute where a cross just missed two Derby forwards and bounced through the box untouched. However, nothing came to fruition, and Leeds went to the locker room up 2-1. They had clearly been the better side, largely dominating possession and allowing Derby very few chances to score.
The second half almost began with a disaster, as Martyn Waghorn just missed an easy tap-in off a wide shot from Mason Mount. Peacock-Farrell had come out to stop Mount’s shot, and Waghorn was barely too late to the ball as it rolled past the touchline. Fortunately, after narrowly avoiding a game-tying goal, Leeds regrouped and proceeded to dominate the remainder of the second half.
In the 56th minute, Saiz had a beautiful chip to Luke Ayling, who crossed the ball to a wide-open Kemar Roofe. Roofe missed the point-blank header, but made up for it just four minutes later when Kalvin Phillips won a tackle deep in Derby’s defensive third. The defensive midfielder played the ball to Klich, who in turn found Roofe, who easily beat a defender and slotted the ball into the upper-left corner of the goal from only a few yards out. Just like that it was 3-1 Leeds.
Polishing off some 9/10s. Couldn't even hazard a guess at when Leeds last played as well as this. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 11, 2018
It took just three more minutes for Leeds to find the back of the net again. An incredible longball from Liam Cooper found Pablo Hernandez in the front right corner of Derby’s 18-yard box. Hernandez then played the ball back across the box to Alioski, who easily finished the header for Leeds’ fourth goal of the game.
Samuel Saiz once again was all over the pitch today, facilitating almost every attacking chance that Leeds had. He was constantly moving into space or playing an accurate ball through the Derby defense. Also, he noticeably put in effort to drop back and help defend when needed, a huge change from last season, when he was rarely bothered to help out the backline.
This is certainly a huge win for Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa, who now have two wins over legitimate promotion contenders in just six days. The open, flowing style of attack that has been on display recently is a breath of fresh air to Leeds fans, and hopefully it will continue in Leeds’ match against Rotherham next Saturday.