Leeds United responded to a poor first half performance in the League Cup 2nd round with a terrific comeback to take Stoke City to penalties, but it wasn’t enough to retain a place in the competition.
Marcelo Bielsa made eight changes ahead of this cup tie, with youngsters Mateusz Bogusz and Alfie McCalmont earning their first professional starts, Barry Douglas returned from injury, while the ever-exciting Costa-Nketiah partnership returned to the starting lineup.
Leeds dominated the opening half, with the first real chance arriving after a quarter of an hour. Jamie Shackleton’s cross bounced up for Barry Douglas on the far side. His half volley almost ended up finding the top corner, and his first Leeds United goal. Ten minutes later, Eddie Nketiah came closest to opening the scoring, as the ball broke to the 20-year-old on the edge of the penalty area, his whipped strike cracked off the inside of the far post.
With five minutes of the first 45’ remaining, Stoke came from nowhere to score twice. The first was from a corner kick, as Danny Batth rose highest to meet a Sam Clucas cross. Five minutes later, Sam Vokes latched onto the end of Tyrese Campbell’s ball across the face of goal to double the Stoke advantage.
Marcelo Bielsa countered with a treble change at half-time, as youngsters McCalmont, Shackleton and Clarke were replaced by Forshaw, Harrison and White. Leeds’ performance got much better, and by the 67th minute, the Whites were level. Former Leeds loanee, Jack Butland sprayed his goal kick off the back of his own defender, with Nketiah looming. The Arsenal loanee pounced, slipping the ball underneath the England international keeper, before coolly slotting home to put Leeds back in the game.
Nketiah came close ten minutes later, as the ball in was flicked on by Kalvin Phillips, with Nketiah not quite getting his feet in order to put the ball in at the back post. But no matter, Leeds grabbed the equaliser with ten minutes to go. An exquisite Leif Davis cross bounced just ahead of Nketiah at the front post, but Helder Costa was there at the back post to nod the ball home and give Leeds the equalising goal.
However, it was not to be, as the cruel conclusion of a penalty shootout resulted in Jack Harrison missing the final spot kick, with the shootout finishing 5-4. There are of course positives to take from the performance, this Leeds team has fight, even in these competitions that aren’t the priority and that Leeds will keep giving young players their chance to impress.