- Leeds haven’t faced Stoke City at home since a 4-0 loss in ’06
- Stoke are winless in their opening fixture since the 2009/10 season against Burnley
- Leeds enter the season with a new manager for the eight consecutive season.
Against Stoke: WWDLL
At Home vs Stoke City: WWDDL
Leeds: BPF, Ayling, Cooper, Berardi, Douglas, Phillips, Klich, Hernandez, Saiz Alioski, Roofe
Subs: Blackman, Jansson, Dallas, Baker, Harrison, Roberts, Bamford
Stoke: Butland, Bauer, Shawcross, Indi, Pieters, Ince, Allen, Ndiaye, Etebo, McClean, Afobe
Subs: Federici, Williams, Edwards, Fletcher, Bojan, Crouch, Diouf
Leeds United sent a message to the rest of the Championship on Sunday afternoon; we’re ready.
The whites took on promotion favourites Stoke City at Elland Road and started the season with a demolition of Gary Rowett’s side, taking control of the game from the first minute to the very last.
Leeds promised during preseason that fitness was a key aspect of their preparation for the new season and it was evident throughout the game, with sleek attacking moves and defensive pressing for the full 90 minutes.
The game started with Leeds on top and within the first six minutes they had a slew of chances with Luke Ayling’s wide cross just missing Ezgjan Alioski.
Kemar Roofe was then sent through with an inch perfect cross from Alioski, but Jack Butland pulled off a perfect save to prevent an early goal.
Leeds then turned on the style as marauding full back Barry Douglas found Saiz outside the area and his sublime weighted ball found Mateusz Klich through on goal for the midfielder to slide it past Butland.
Stoke then had the chance to pull one back when Tom Ince found space more than 25 yards out but his shot could only slip the crossbar.
An error from Berardi gave Stoke their second knock on the door as James McClean was sent through on goal but Liam Cooper’s superb defending closed the gap as he could prevent McClean from squaring the ball to a free Benik Adobe.
The work in preseason showed late in the half as Leeds continued to press with some mesmerising football as Saiz plays the ball to Hernandez before a deft flick onto Alioski but his volley is again saved from close range by Butland.
Just before the half Leeds finally got the deserved second goal when Alioski squares the ball to Hernandez who’s low shot is spilled into the net by Butland. 2-0 Leeds.
Many fans will have worried that Leeds would not be able to keep up their intensity and their fears will have been worsened when Tom Ince falls in the penalty area and the red awards a soft penalty. Benik Afobe is on hand to bag his first goal for Stoke.
Leeds were straight down the pitch after the goal and nearly bagged their third when Alioski sent an errant cross into the box for Luke Ayling but the ball is taken off the full back’s head at the last second.
From the resulting corner, enter Captain Marvel Liam Cooper. Douglas showed his set piece masterclass with a low inswinging corner which Cooper is able to guide into the bottom corner.
The introductions of Fletcher, Bojan and Peter Crouch still didn’t help Stoke, with an incredible save by Bailey Peacock-Farrell from Peter Crouch’s headed down effort failing to get Stoke back into the game.
The mental strength was evident throughout the entire game and even during the final five minutes after Stoke receive some questionable calls, Leeds remained calm and prevented any errors.
Each player brought off was given their undoubted standing ovation by the crowd of 34,126. The likes of Klich, Saiz and Alioski buoy d by a perfect start to the season from all involved.
In the final stages Leeds continued to press and debutant Jack Harrison was given the dream chance on his debut as Pablo Hernandez finds him free in the box but he’s unable to turn in the free header at goal.
Man of the Match: Alioski, continuously worked throughout the game, an outlet for the defence and created several key chances for the Whites.
By Ryan Ingham
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