Leeds United 3 Watford 0: Milestone goals, a party piece from Daniel Farke and a new cult hero

THIS GAME pitted a side without a home win in front of their own supporters since April 4 against a team who last won a league game on their travels on January 2.

Something had to give, you thought. And it did, eventually.

For all of Leeds United’s go-forward in a pretty proficient and polished performance, there was no breakthrough as the game headed towards the mid-way point of the second half.

Good sides don’t panic and Leeds didn’t. Quick-fire goals in the space of three minutes was noteworthy and relieving.

Jaidon Anthony celebrates scoring Leeds' third goal. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Jaidon Anthony celebrates scoring Leeds' third goal. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Jaidon Anthony celebrates scoring Leeds' third goal. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
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The first was a classic striker’s finish from Joel Piroe, his first goal at Elland Road as he showed evidence of just why Leeds were so keen to sign him.

A move superbly started by Georginio Rutter was taken on by Dan James and Piroe did the rest at the far post on 67 minutes.

James then turned provider again as Sam Byram, in his second spell at Leeds, helped himself to a milestone strike, heading home as he found the net for United at Elland Road for the first time in a league game in over a decade since March 2013.

The gloss arrived late on when Rutter magnificently set up Jaidon Anthony for a late third as he crowned his home debut in the best way possible.

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There was even time for a party piece from the boss, with Daniel Farke showing neat close control in the technical to control a ball that was going out of play. ‘Sign him up’ soon rang around the ground.

The margin of victory was no more than Leeds deserved, if belated.

Rutter did not score - and missed one big early chance - but some of his approach work was an absolute delight and Elland Road has a new cult hero.

A first home win of the campaign was necessarily and delivered with style by the end. Leeds also recorded their fourth successive clean sheet. They are on the march.

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This was the sort of business result which augurs well for the hard grind of winter and should be taken note by their rivals across the Championship landscape.

The talk beforehand was of Leeds potentially having to solve the puzzle, if Watford took a leaf of Sheffield Wednesday’s recent book by doing the equivalent of parking the bus to try and stymie and frustrate the hosts.

In the event, Leeds, sharp and bright from the off, found a way past Watford, but a combination of fine goalkeeping and errant finishing ensured they headed into the break without the breakthrough which their play deserved.

Austrian keeper Daniel Bachmann excelled himself on two occasions. The pick was his first save, showing magnificent reactions four minutes in to somehow keep out a rasping strike from Ethan Ampadu - who produced a textbook first half performance in the middle of the park.

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Bachmann’s encore later on in the half was also noteworthy and he showed excellent agility to turn away a shot from the lively Crysencio Summerville after slick work involving Piroe and Rutter.

The latter was the subject of a bit of a love-in from Leeds supporters. Some of approach work caught the eye, but his big moment in front of goal early on was rather less impressive.

Latching onto a pinpoint throughball from Dan James, the striker was presented with the sort of chance that most forwards crave. With Bachmann in front of him, he failed to get enough contact and the keeper saved his meek effort.

Watford also survived a penalty call late on in proceedings when James went down under pressure from Jamal Lewis following a sublime pass with the outside of his foot from Piroe.

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Leeds, who made four changes with Liam Cooper, Byram and Summerville starting alongside Glen Kamara - handed his full league debut - controlled the half and Watford brought little to the table from an offensive aspect.

The nagging worry was that the Hornets might get one chance on the resumption and stick it away.

Watford boss Valerien Ismael clearly wanted his side to step it up too and made three interval changes in a bid to pep up the visitors.

They did look a bit more proactive, although most of the play was still towards their goal.

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Unfortunately, they had Bachmann in the way with the keeper not to be moved, keeping out a low drive from Summerville after he burst towards the box.

Piroe, operating in a deep role, then curled a shot over, with frustration starting to seep in at the lack of a home opener.

It was quickly replaced by joy and a spot of relief after Rutter instigated the move which led to the opener in supreme fashion.

He showed dexterity and power to switch the play to James down the right. Classic wing-play saw him get half a yard and then have a look up and send over a radar like cross in the direction of Piroe, who buried it at the back stick.

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Watford’s wall was broken and Byram soon dispatched an emphatic second, planting a meaty header past Bachmann from James’s corner.

Suddenly, it was party time and One scare saw sub Vakoun Bayo fire off target, but it was in isolation.

Anthony went close before the cherry on the cake arrived when Rutter superbly set him for a coolly-taken third.

Leeds United: Meslier; Shackleton (Ayling 90), Cooper, Struijk, Byram; Kamara (Greuv 90), Ampadu; Summerville (Anthony 80), Piroe (Gray 84), James (Poveda 84); Rutter. Unused substitutes: Darlow, Cresswell, Gelhardt, Joseph.

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Watford: Bachmann;, Andrews, Porteous, Hoedt, Lewis (Chakvetadze 80); Sierralta, Louza (Asprilla 68), Kone (Kayembe 45); Ince (Dele-Bashiru 45), Rajovic, Martins (Bayo 45). Unused substitutes: Roberts, Ngakia, Pollock, Morris.

Referee: J Simpson (Lancashire).

Attendance: 36,236.