Match Report: Leeds United 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach - Whites Competitive Against Die Fohlen
Thursday, 20th Jul 2017 17:47 by Lucas Monk
In their fifth pre-season outing under the guidance of Thomas Christiansen, Leeds United responded to Monday's humbling defeat at the hands of Bursaspor in commendable style - the Whites recorded a creditable 1-1 draw against Germany's Borussia Monchengladbach.
On a glorious afternoon in Schwaz, Austria, Leeds United played out an intriguing 1-1 draw against Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach. The Whites - courtesy of a rare goal on the part of defender Luke Ayling - had established an early lead, and in spite of Patrick Herrmann's second-half equaliser Christiansen's team emerge from this match having won merited praise for their performance.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Wiedwald; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi; O'Kane, Phillips; Roofe, Hernandez, Alioski; Wood.
Substitutes: Green, Peacock-Farrell, Ekuban, Gomes, Pennington, Dallas, Anita, Shaughnessy, Bridcutt, Saiz, Doukara, Antonsson, Sacko, Vieira.
For United, recent acquisitions such as Felix Wiedwald and Ezgjan Alioski were afforded starring roles, while defender Matthew Pennington, who signed on a season-long loan from Everton only yesterday, was named among the substitutes.
Borussia M'Gladbach (4-4-2) - Nicholas; Elvedi, Mayer, Strobl, Johnson; Bénes, Zakaria; Grifo, Hofmann; Herrmann, Yeboah.
Substitutes: Beyer, Feigenspan, Villalba.
Having divided their squad into two separate platoons on the orders of head coach Dieter Hecking, the Borussia side was comprised of a blend of fledgling youngsters -Kwame Yeboah, for instance - and more established stars including the United States international Fabian Johnson.
In striking contrast to Monday's ill-fated meeting with Bursaspor, United made a sprightly start to this match and the Whites would take the lead in only the second minute of play. After an excellent interchange of passing between defender Luke Ayling and winger Kemar Roofe, the former surged toward goal before curling a sumptuous left-footed effort past Gladbach 'keeper Moritz Nicholas.
In lieu of seeking to cautiously protect their slender lead, Thomas Christiansen's charges pursued a second goal and almost netted it five minutes later. Alas, Pablo Hernandez's laser-guided cross could only be headed over the crossbar by Roofe.
United's next opportunity would arise in the game's 23rd minute. Another marvellous delivery from Hernandez was met by the head of towering defender Pontus Jansson, who headed narrowly wide of the mark.
With Gladbach floundering and Leeds refusing to relent in their pursuit of another goal, further chances would be presented to the Whites. Firstly, both Chris Wood and Pablo Hernandez failed to convert from close range after Kalvin Phillips rattled the aluminium with a fierce free-kick, before an excellent cross from Ezgjan Alioski narrowly evaded Wood who most certainly would have doubled United's lead had he made contact with the ball.
Clear-cut opportunities would evade Borussia, with an audacious effort from range by Vincenzo Grifo the closest Die Fohlen came to a first-half equaliser.
Before the half-time whistle, Jansson would spurn another gilt-edged chance; the defender headed over once more after connecting with another accurate United cross into the Gladbach area.
During the interval, United head coach Thomas Christiansen elected to make two substitutions ahead of the second period. Vurnon Anita and Matthew Pennington replaced Gaetano Berardi and Pontus Jansson respectively.
Having asserted their own style of football upon their opponents in a thoroughly successful first-half, Leeds were made to rue their failure to extend their advantage just two minutes into the second period. After United conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position, Borussia's Patrick Herrmann expertly dispatched a scorching effort into the top-left corner.
On 58 minutes, Leeds came excruciatingly close to regaining their lead. After diligent play by Alioski to regain possession on the byline, Hernandez elicited a save from Gladbach 'keeper Nicholas before Roofe crashed an effort against the crossbar - prior to Wood seeing another effort saved.
Following what could plausibly be described as one of the most frenetic phases in the history of the sport, United head coach Christiansen made sweeping changes in the 63rd minute. Off went Eunan O'Kane, Kalvin Phillips, Ezgjan Alioski, Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and Chris Wood; Liam Bridcutt, Ronaldo Vieira, Samu Saiz, Stuart Dallas, Hadi Sacko and Caleb Ekuban replaced them.
Nine minutes would pass before the Bundesliga outfit created their first clear opening of the match. Fabian Johnson received possession inside the Leeds penalty area but, to the dismay of Dieter Hecking, could not muster an effort on target.
There were then further substitutions for United; Conor Shaughnessy and Madger Gomes replaced Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper respectively.
With the match now nearing its end, United again came close to regaining the lead after an enterprising attack involving Ekuban. The Italian-born Ghanaian forward cushioned a header down to Vieira, who promptly found Anita with a pass before the Dutchman fired narrowly over.
That would prove to be the last attacking act of note with Leeds recording a creditable draw against stern opposition.
Full Time: United 1-1 Gladbach - Ayling (2'), Herrmann (47')
Analysis: A Draw That Augurs Well
Once more, an ideal outcome for head coach Thomas Christiansen whose priorities are - rather rightly - fitness and preparation.
After a humbling defeat at the hands of Bursaspor on Monday, few among the many supporters of Leeds United will lament the outcome of this match. The Whites played with elan and an adventurous spirit and were most unfortunate, perhaps, not to have secured victory against their German counterparts.
With many of United's recent acquisitions showcasing their abilities in addition to gaining crucial football so as to prepare them for the forthcoming season, Christiansen will doubtless be pleased with today's encounter.
A credible performance, zilch in the way of injuries and a respectable result - though a 2-1 scoreline in favour of Leeds would have been a more accurate reflection of their excellence - are all things that will have contented United's management ahead of next week's meeting with SD Eibar.
Photo: Action Images
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