Eddie Nketiah made a stunning home debut for Leeds United, with the Arsenal loanee’s goal handing the Whites a 1-0 victory over Brentford.
Leeds weren’t at their fluent best against the Bees, but Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to turn to his bench and throw Nketiah on alongside Patrick Bamford paid dividends, as his 81st minute effort settled a hard-fought game.
The Whites weren’t clicking in the opening 20 minutes of the contest, and Bielsa will have been frustrated by the amount of loose passes from his side.
In the opening three fixtures of the season the Whites have kept the balling moving nicely, but time after time, they’d allow Brentford to half-break.
And, just as the Whites looked like they were finding their groove, it was one of those wayward moments that almost gifted Brentford the lead.
After regaining possession from Stuart Dallas in the midfield, Thomas Frank’s side broke well; finding Bryan Mbeumo on the right, with the forward cutting in and rifling a shot back off Kiko Casilla’s post.
That appeared to shake Leeds into life, with Patrick Bamford’s influence beginning to grow against the returning Pontus Jansson and his defensive line.
The 25-year-old’s brace had made the difference against Wigan on Saturday, and he almost had the opening goal in the 29th minute, directing a diagonal cross from Ezgjan Alioski over an advancing David Raya, but wide of the goalkeeper’s post.
Alioski worked his way into Andy Davies’ book, with Christian Norgaard closely following as the game ticked towards half-time.
Brentford closed the opening 45 with a couple of corners, but they struggled to make use of their physical advantage – despite having Casilla flapping – and had to settle for a goalless first-half.
There was a lot more urgency about Leeds at the start of the second-half, with Mateusz Klich getting forward well and linking with Bamford. Corners were forced, but cleared in typical Jansson fashion by the Brentford skipper.
Adam Forshaw fired into Raya’s arms from distance and Pablo Hernandez launched an effort into the Kop.
Klich was convinced he should’ve had a penalty for handball shortly after the hour, after his shot rifled wide off a Brentford body, but Davies pointed for a corner.
Then a breaking Watkins almost silenced a growing Leeds crowd, firing across Casilla’s goal.
Bielsa and Frank both turned to their bench as they looked for a winner, with it the former’s subs who did the damage.
Klich and Helder Costa led a lightening quick break down the right, with the former Wolves man squaring perfectly for Nketiah to send Elland Road wild in the 81st minute.
Brentford would push, with Frank throwing Emiliano into the fray, but the Bees couldn’t silence the 35,004 strong Elland Road crowd, as Leeds stretched their unbeaten start to the season.
Pre-match, the focus was on Jansson’s return to Elland Road, but by full-time it was all about a new face in West Yorkshire, with Eddie Nketiah introducing himself to his temporary home.
FULL-TIME: Leeds United 1-0 Brentford.