Diego Llorente marked his return from a brief injury setback with the winning goal as Leeds United picked up their first victory of the season with a 1-0 triumph over Watford.
Leeds went into the game having drawn and lost three each of their opening six games in the Premier League. Watford, meanwhile, already had seven points under their belts. It was the hosts who dominated at Elland Road but the margin of victory was slim.
Llorente came in for youngster Charlie Cresswell at centre-back in Leeds’ only change from their loss to West Ham the previous weekend. Watford made three changes from the side that drew with Newcastle, bringing in Francisco Sierralta, Ozan Tufan and Emmanuel Dennis.
The first major chance of the game fell Leeds’ way. Raphinha came inside with the ball before shooting, but his effort was blocked by William Troost-Ekong.
For the next chance, Stuart Dallas forced a save from Ben Foster, who then managed to thwart Daniel James to deny him reaching the rebound.
Watford had been guilty of making some mistakes and received a wake-up call when Leeds took the lead.
After a corner from Raphinha, Llorente pounced on a failed clearance from Juraj Kucka, sidefooting it beyond Foster to make it 1-0.
A few moments later, Leeds appealed for a penalty when James went down in the box under the challenge of Troost-Ekong. However, neither the referee nor VAR were interested despite there being no apparent intent of playing the ball.
Spot of rugby anyone? pic.twitter.com/RvDjGyVmuO
— Leeds United (@LUFC) October 2, 2021
Continuing their positive momentum, Mateusz Klich was next to take aim for Leeds, forcing a save from Foster.
The Watford keeper was next rounded by Raphinha, but the Leeds winger went too wide to hit the target.
Watford began to wake up and had a couple of their own chances. Tufan took their first shot of the game just before the half-hour mark, but couldn’t test Illan Meslier.
Matters were made worse for the Hornets when striker Joshua King went down holding his knee five minutes before the break. He tried to carry on but ultimately could not and was substituted for Ken Sema.
While he was working out whether he could continue, Leeds went close again courtesy of Klich. The midfielder’s volley skimmed over.
The first half concluded with Leeds having dominated, but with just one goal to show for it. Nevertheless, they came out of the traps for the second half looking to build upon that advantage.
Leeds United see out win
Dallas was denied first after some positive and direct play. In another chance shortly after, Raphinha sent a free kick over.
At the centre of the action for Leeds remained Dallas, whose next shot also failed to find the back of the net, this time coming from the edge of the box after a pass from Klich.
Watford’s woes continued with another enforced change. This time it was Sierralta who succumbed to an injury of his hamstring. Christian Kabasele replaced him.
At the other end, Watford were finally putting some pressure on with a string of corners. Eventually, Meslier had some work to do to deny Dennis. And a minute later, the Leeds keeper was breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Meslier lost his grip of the ball after claiming a corner and sub Kabasele prodded the ball in. However, the Watford man was adjudged to have fouled Liam Cooper in the process, so the goal did not count.
Leeds were soon forced into a change of their own when Dallas went off with a potential groin injury. Tyler Roberts was his replacement.
The sub had a chance to double the lead in the final minute of normal time. The ball fell to him after a parry from Foster and Roberts shot, only for Kucka to block it on the line. From the follow up, the Leeds man fired onto the crossbar.
Despite failing to double their lead, Leeds successfully navigated the four minutes of stoppage time to get that all-important first league win. It lifts them out of the relegation zone and on to six points.
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