Leeds United fielded a strong side but lost an entertaining friendly 3-2 to Real Betis at Loughborough University.
Patrick Bamford headed his side into an early lead thanks to Junior Firpo’s cross, but a weak back-pass from Stuart Dallas was intercepted and led to Betis’ equaliser minutes later.
Poor defending was again to blame as Betis’ number nine found himself unmarked in the area before tucking away the La Liga side’s second goal, and a Meslier mistake made it three after half time when a low drive went straight through his hands at the near post.
Leeds responded quickly though, and a poor back-pass was intercepted by Mateusz Klich, who showed composure in finding the far corner to get the Whites back into the match.
The end-to-end encounter could not muster anymore goals, although Rodrigo failed to put away two of the biggest chances that fell to Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the second half.
Both Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk picked up injuries and were forced off during a feisty affair.
Here are the player ratings:
Illan Meslier - 6
Not much he could’ve done for the first two goals; a deflection off Llorente took the ball beyond him for the equaliser and Borja Iglesias was unmarked in the box for the second. It was a poor error for the third though, as a driven cross from a tight angle went straight through Meslier’s hands at the near post.
Generally good in distribution but tempted fate playing out from the back at times. Imposed himself well at set pieces when needed. Dragged back to spin an attacker in his own area before sparking a chance for Leeds later in the second half.
Junior Firpo (off 46’) - 7.5
Improved on his debut against Blackburn. Consistently offered himself with good overlapping runs down the left side and linked up well with Harrison and Dallas, particularly for the opening goal which was assisted by a Firpo cross. Got stuck in and was strong in the air. Didn’t look brilliant in 1v1 defending situations but an encouraging attacking display from the ex-Betis player.
Pascal Struijk (off 86’) - 6.5
Distributed the ball well but didn’t shine as brightly as he did against Blackburn. His ventures forward occasionally resulted in chances for Real Betis after he lost possession. Defended well at set pieces when required. Came off with an injury a few minutes after a poor challenge from Nabil Fekir.
Diego Llorente (off 24’) - 6
Left space in behind on a couple of occasions but tended to recover well. Was left chasing Aitor Ruibal and got a touch on the effort that went in off the far post; unlucky not to block it. Replaced by Jamie Shackleton after picking up a small knock, but he didn’t have any difficulties leaving the pitch.
Luke Ayling - 7
Not overly involved in the opening 25 minutes but had more of an impact after replacing Llorente at centre-back. Executed some good clearances and blocks, while also finding success with his passes and drives forward.
Robin Koch - 6.5
Got stuck in and pressed high up the pitch in his holding midfield role. Distributed play nicely and was unlucky with several attempted through balls down the middle in the first half. Picked out one or two good passes in the second period. He was beaten too easily for Betis’ equaliser, though.
Jack Harrison (off 65’) - 7
Lively performance from Harrison who showed that progress has been made in his attempts to form a fruitful relationship with Firpo down the left side. Crossing wasn’t as accurate as usual but he made some good runs with the ball. Played his part in the build-up to Bamford’s goal.
Stuart Dallas - 7.5 (MOTM)
A productive display from the workhorse midfielder. Pressed well in the first half and played a lovely first touch ball for Firpo in the build-up to the opening goal. Switched to left-back in the second half and continued to impress across the field.
Spared Leeds’ blushes by winning the ball well after Struijk had lost possession and left space in behind. His poor back-pass did lead to Betis’ first goal, though.
Rodrigo Moreno - 6.5
Had a golden chance in the second half after retrieving the ball from Raphinha with space in the box, but lacked composure and saw his attempted ball to Roberts intercepted with ease. Another opportunity in the final minute saw him retrieve the ball from Costa in the area, but the keeper parried away.
Otherwise played well in the build-up and linked up nicely with Raphinha, particularly in the first half. But is yet to hit his stride ahead of a highly anticipated season for him.
Raphinha - 7
Heavily involved, especially in the first half. Contributed defensively and found space well, particularly in the middle of the park. Linked up well with Rodrigo. Struggled a bit more in the second half, highlighted by more difficulties in beating his man.
Patrick Bamford (off 46’) - 7
Fairly quiet game for Bamford besides the goal. Got himself into a nice position and glanced a well executed header into the far corner to give Leeds an early lead. Pressed relatively well and will be content with his first outing of the season.
Jamie Shackleton (on 24’) - 7.5
Replaced Llorente in the first half and slotted in at right-back. Had an excellent first half, defending well and overlapping effectively in the final third. Best moment came when he won the ball as the last man, released Raphinha, overlapped and found Rodrigo with a low ball into the area. Continued to play with energy in the second half.
Mateusz Klich (on 46’) - 7
Got Leeds back into the game when he intercepted a poor back-pass and executed a composed finish into the far bottom corner. Looked comfortable again in midfield.
Tyler Roberts (on 46’) - 6.5
Pressed well after coming on and got involved in the build-up after dropping a bit deeper. Curled a late shot past the far top corner in added time.
Helder Costa (on 65’) - 5.5
Committed some clumsy challenges shortly after coming on. He retrieved an excellent ball from Koch that opened up a good opportunity but he mistimed his run and lashed over before being flagged offside. Didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as his teammates. Not the performance he needed in this crucial time in his Leeds career.
Sam Greenwood (on 87’) - N/A
Was Leeds’ last available substitute when Struijk came off with an injury. Didn’t have enough time to impose himself in the match.
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