Match Report: Derby County 1-3 Leeds United - Much-changed champions rout Rams
Sunday, 19th Jul 2020 17:00 by Lucas Monk
A much-changed Leeds United crowned their confirmation as Championship winners with a comfortable 3-1 win over Derby County.
United head coach Marcelo Bielsa made no fewer than seven changes to the side that saw off Barnsley on Thursday night. Kiko Casilla returned following his suspension. Pascal Struijk and Ian Poveda made their first starts for the club. Only Ben White, Gaetano Berardi, Stuart Dallas and Tyler Roberts had started in the victory over Barnsley.
Following a guard of honour from the home side in recognition of United's title-winning exploits, Bielsa's charges made much of the early running. Leeds played their football crisply and sharply, and Roberts and Barry Douglas both elicited attentive saves from Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos.
Derby lost Tom Lawrence to injury with just six minutes of play elapsed. This was in consequence of a collision with Berardi, who also found himself forced off with an injury shortly after the half-hour mark.
Luke Ayling, Berardi's replacement, almost put through his own goal shortly thereafter, but United continued to control the match and the offside flag denied Poveda a first senior goal before the half-time whistle.
In contrast to the opening exchanges of the first period, it would be the Rams who would make the more sprightly start to the second. In the 54th minute, Chris Martin netted his 11th goal of the season as his low shot took a deflection before squirming past Casilla and into the net.
There would be no let-up from Leeds. The champions hit back instantaneously. A slick passing move saw the ball fall to the feet of Hernandez, so often United's talisman, and he blasted the ball home for his ninth of the campaign.
The Whites completed the turnaround with 15 minutes of the match still to play. Roberts made an intelligent run and moved with the ball into a deep position before releasing the onrushing Jamie Shackleton. The youngster fired home with real aplomb to score his first professional goal and put his side on course for a third successive victory over Derby at Pride Park.
Matt Clarke, on loan to the Rams from Brighton and Hove Albion, encapsulated his team's sorry afternoon by slicing a clearance into his own net from Ezgjan Alioski's threatening cross with six minutes left to play.
Leeds deserved their victory, having no fewer than 24 shots on goal during the contest, and they have now hit the 90-point mark for the season - a testament to the wondrous job Marcelo Bielsa and his charges have done this season. The full-time celebrations were fittingly corybantic, even to the point of Victor Orta, the club's director of football, waving a pair of binoculars around once the full-time whistle had gone. United will play host to Charlton next Wednesday in their final match of the campaign, and will doubtless be looking to end their long exile from the top flight with a win.
Photo: Action Images
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