|Derby County 1 v 4 Leeds United|
Saturday, 11th August 2018 Kick-off 17:30
Match Report: Derby County 1-4 Leeds United - Bielsa's terrific taxidermists stuff the Rams
Sunday, 12th Aug 2018 14:01 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United maintained their perfect start to the new Championship season - and sent out an emphatic warning to their rivals in the process - by manufacturing an irrepressible counter-attacking performance that served to sweep aside Frank Lampard’s Derby County in what was a stunning victory at Pride Park on Saturday afternoon.
Mateusz Klich, Kemar Roofe (x2) and Ezgjan Alioski were all on target as Leeds United made it two wins from two in the Championship with a veritable humbling of Derby County at Pride Park.
Klich, who also netted the opening goal in last weekend’s 3-1 home success over promotion favourites Stoke City, gave Marcelo Bielsa’s side the advantage with a spectacular effort from range early in the first half, and despite Tom Lawrence’s equaliser shortly thereafter, a brilliant brace from Roofe and a thumping header from Alioski ensured that the points would be heading to West Yorkshire.
United head coach Bielsa elected to field an unchanged starting eleven to that which put the Potters to the sword last week. Moreover, the only alteration to the Leeds squad was the inclusion of Jamie Shackleton, an 18-year-old midfielder and a product of the club’s famed academy, in place of the injured Stuart Dallas.
Prior to the match, much had been made of the fact that the occasion marked Frank Lampard’s first home match in charge of the Rams, but despite such keen anticipation, it would be Leeds who made a stunning start to the match.
After Derby carelessly relinquished possession in midfield on 5 minutes, United’s Samuel Saiz surged forward alacritously before passing inside to Pablo Hernandez, who then found Klich in a cavernous space on the periphery of the area. After shifting the ball onto his favoured right foot, the Polish midfielder curled a sumptuous effort beyond the reach of Scott Carson to spark delirious celebrations from the travelling supporters.
It was no less than Leeds merited for a sprightly start, but they were soon pegged back by the Rams just seven minutes later - after Liam Cooper’s clumsy challenge presented Tom Lawrence with a free-kick in an enticing position.
And the Welshman made no mistake, hammering a fierce shot toward goal that whistled past Bailey Peacock-Farrell and into the top-right corner.
But despite having ceded the lead so quickly after taking it, Leeds were unperturbed and they soon mounted a magnificent response.
That Bielsa demands expeditious transition from defence to attack is scarcely a state secret, and Derby were ruthlessly punished for more perfunctory play in the 21st minute.
The excellent Roofe ghosted in behind Fikayo Tomori to guide a virtuoso header into the top-left corner after Alioski’s splendiferous cross from the left hung in the air for what felt like an eternity - and all this originated from an idle long ball that Barry Douglas easily intercepted.
United’s effervescent and irresistibly dynamic play was proving too much for the beleaguered hosts to cope with. One-touch passes were skilfully completed; playing positions were speedily exchanged; the Rams were being utterly eviscerated.
Despite Lampard introducing ex-Leeds midfielder Bradley Johnson as a half-time substitute in a bid to stultify the seemingly irrepressible Saiz, whose silky slaloms perforated the Derby lines time and time again, the visitors’ hegemony showed no sign of abating.
Early in the second period, Carson had to save stupendously from Roofe, who had directed an accurate header toward goal, before Tomori met Luke Ayling’s follow-up with a defiant block.
But United would soon finesse for themselves a deserved third - with Roofe netting his second of the match on the hour mark.
After positive approach play from Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips, Roofe produced a masterly piece of individual skill inside the penalty area, extricating himself from the advances of three defenders with fabulous footwork before crashing the ball home with a powerful finish.
And it soon got even better for the visitors, and worse still for their besieged hosts, when Alioski planted a thumping header past the hapless Carson after diligent work by Hernandez to keep a lofted ball in play.
Derby were hopelessly impotent in attack for much of the match - with Mason Mount spurning their best chance at the start of the second period - and Leeds negotiated the game’s remainder with discernible ease to maintain their perfect start to the new Championship season.
For the Whites, this was a most excellent triumph - and no less than they deserved for a mercilessly clinical display.
After their dismantling of Stoke City with an almost surgical precision on the opening day, Bielsa’s team arguably went into this match as the favourites - but few could have expected a victory of this magnitude, one that will doubtless have raised expectations amongst the United fans, as well as the eyebrows of their rivals.
It was their sneering, black nonchalance on the ball, with which they carved their opponents asunder with frightful ease, that was most gratifying, and this, along with the fact that this win is their first on the road since Boxing Day, serves to beautifully encapsulate the remarkable work that Bielsa has already done since the seismic news of his arrival.
In striking contrast to last season, this team are overtly esurient for success, play with vigour and fervour, as epitomised by Phillips, and carry multifarious threats - as happened against Stoke, United were able to get three different names on the scoresheet here as they bossed the midfield from start to finish.
And the goals reflected the supreme quality of the performance.
It really was a veritable smorgasbord of sumptuous goals, with little to choose from between Klich’s wonderful opener and Roofe’s masterfully taken third.
The question on everybody’s lips after such a brilliant start to the new season, of course, is this: can Leeds maintain such high standards for the rest of the campaign?
If they can, then they shall surely return to the promised land, but the focus of the supporters will now turn to Tuesday's eminently winnable Carabao Cup clash with Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road before the visit of Rotherham on Saturday.
Match Gallery: 12 photos
Derby County (4-3-3): Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Tomori, Lowe; Bryson, Ledley (Johnson 45’), Mount (Bennett 75’); Wilson (Jozefzoon 61’), Waghorn, Lawrence.
Unused Subs: Roos, Pearce, Forsyth, Marriott.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Peacock-Farrell; Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Douglas; Phillips; Hernandez, Saiz (Baker 86’), Klich (Shackleton 73’), Alioski; Roofe (Bamford 79’).
Unused Subs: Blackman, Jansson, Harrison, Roberts.
Match Statistics (Derby County/ Leeds United)
Shots: 12 / 17
On target: 4 / 7
Possession: 46% / 54%
Corners: 3 / 5
Fouls: 10 /19
Referee: Peter Bankes
Booked: Keogh, Lowe, Ledley, Waghorn (Derby). Alioski, Bamford (Leeds).
Man of the match: Kemar Roofe (Leeds).
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Photo: Action Images
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