Leeds 1-0 Watford: Diego Llorente strikes to give Marcelo Bielsa’s side their first win of the season to prevent an unwanted club record of first seven games without a win
- Leeds took the lead after 18 minutes after a sharp finish by Diego Llorente
- Watford thought they had scored the equalizer after an error by Illan Meslier
- However, it was held that Meslier was subsequently soiled by Christian Kabasele
Diego Llorente secured Leeds United’s first win of the season to ensure Marcelo Bielsa dodged a piece of unwanted club history.
Llorente, who returned from a hamstring injury, scored acrobatically in the first half and Leeds should have won by more as they registered 19 shots on target.
The win helped them climb out of the bottom three and they maintain their proud record of never having played seven games without winning at the start of the season.
Diego Llorente celebrates his goal in the 18th minute that turned out to be the match winner
It was an important result for Marcelo Bielsa’s team, who had not won a victory this season
Ben Foster unable to get to the ball in time after Llorente put Leeds ahead after a bad eviction
Dan James celebrates with the goalscorer who helped Leeds on their way to a crucial win
LED: (4-1-4-1): Meslier 6: Shackleton 6.5, Llorente 8, Cooper 7, Firpo 6; Phillips 6.5; Raphinha 8.5, Dallas 8 (Roberts 78 6.5), Klich 7.5 (Struijk 90), James 7; Rodrigo 6.5
Target: Llorente 18
Subscribers unusedKlaesson (Gk), Cresswell, Harrison, Gelhardt, Hjelde, McKinstry, Greenwood
Watford (4-2-3-1): Foster 6: Femenia 5.5, Troost-Ekong 6, Sierralta 6 (Kabasele 68 6), Rose 6.5; Kucka 5.5, Sissoko 6; Sarr 6, Tufan 5.5 (Joao Pedro 59 6), Dennis 6; King 6 (Shema 45 6)
Subscribers unused: Bachmann (Gk), Ngakia, Cleverley, Masina, Gosling, Hernandez Booked: Femenia, Sarr, Dennis
Referee: Simon Hooper 6
This was more like the Bielsaball Leeds thrilling fans across the country last season.
While key figures Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling were still missing, Raphinha was in mesmerizing form and Stuart Dallas made numerous outbursts from midfield into the penalty area.
Newly promoted Watford hardly threatened as they were beaten at Elland Road for the first time since 2009, although goalkeeper Illan Meslier got a blunder after a blunder midway through the second period.
In the rain in Yorkshire, shots from Raphinha and Dan James were blocked when the home side got Watford back from the opening whistle.
Dallas came even closer when he shot forward and struck a left foot that blocked Ben Foster with his legs.
Pressure from Leeds soon made it clear that the breakthrough at 18 minutes had a comedic element.
Raphinha’s corner to the far post was inexplicably nodded back in the penalty area by Juraj Kucka and Llorente reached out to hook the ball in from close range – his follow-up saw him pirouette towards the opponent as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.
It was only the Spaniard’s second goal for the club and very welcome with the roar of relief that was heard throughout the city.
Leeds went for the carotid artery without success. Daniel James was awarded a penalty kick and the crowd turned to referee Simon Hooper when it appeared the winger had been run over by William Troost-Ekong.
James has a shot on target while Leeds were desperate for a second goal
Dallas got another shot and after 25 minutes a dangerous cross from James was brought in by Rodrigo in no time.
A beautiful 40-yard pass from Raphinha fell to Rodrigo’s foot. He selflessly tried to beat Dallas instead of going for goal and the opportunity was lost.
Watford won their first corner too late at 37 minutes, but wasted it by slamming him low into Leeds’ bodies to clear.
Xisco Munoz was forced into a reshuffle shortly before half time when striker Josh King stumbled to be replaced by Ken Sema.
Illan Meslier was lucky after his mistake almost gave Watford a goal back
Meslier spilled the ball and Christian Kabasele shot the ball into the back of the net for Watford
The goal was disallowed as Emmanuel Dennis contested the decision with Simon Hooper
Leeds feared that second goal at the start of the second half. The energetic Dallas broke forward again and it took an excellent block from Troost-Ekong to refuse him.
Kiko Femenia became the first time the match was booked by James to grab his waist when the speedster threatened to get away.
Watford’s golden opportunity came and went when Meslier dropped a corner and the ball bounced off the head of his defender Liam Cooper and rolled into an empty net.
Leeds avoided an unwanted record with their win and they are now one point behind Watford
As the visitors celebrated what would have been an undeserved equaliser, it was ruled out as Christian Kabasele fouled the Leeds captain before the ball touched him.
The Watford players clearly considered it a controversial decision, but given the balance of the game, the best team won.
Leeds nearly added a second right at the end when substitute Tyler Roberts cleared an effort from Kucka’s line and then hit the crossbar with the rebound.
Leeds players celebrate post-match after finishing their scorching start to the new campaign