Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch pleased with four debutants and substitutes' impact in win over Wolves

Pre-season optimism proved justified on the opening day of the new Premier League campaign as Leeds United picked up their first three points with a 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

By Tony Harber
Sunday, 7th August 2022, 7:00 am

While performances will have to improve on this if the Whites are to be a top half of the table team this season there was plenty of encouragement for head coach Jesse Marsch with four of the summer signings making their debut.

Attacking midfield Brenden Aaronson caught the eye the most of the newcomers and played a crucial part in both of United's goals while Marc Roca and Tyler Adams formed a new defensive midfield partnership and Rasmus Kristensen came for his Premiership bow at right-back.

"I think all the debutants did quite well,” said Marsch.

Brenden Aaronson celebrates Leeds United's winning goal against Wolves.

"Aaronson is relentless. He is non-stop. His work rate is incredible I know him well and the thing I know about him is he is only going to get better.

“One of the things I'm most pleased about is not just the quality they have as players but the quality they have as people and the way they have fit into our group.

“They have been rewarded by that, everyone sees that they fit really well and that they are good players and good people.

“We have to get Luis Sinisterra going and we are happy to have Darko (Gyabi) with us. There are always questions about more additions, we will see if we can find guys who can fit in as well as these guys have.

“We have talked a lot with the team about the level of the Premier League. It's hard to mimic that in training. Roca at Munich learned the behaviours about what we liked to do against the ball and the adaptation has gone smoothly.

“Rasmus was unlucky on the goal. He defended well, ran hard and made good decisions with the ball.”

On how the game went, Marsch added: "We've talked a lot about good starts. And to be fair, I actually thought we had a good start. But we just happened to give up a little bit of a strange goal.

“We talked that they'd like to play a lot of chips to the second post and we don't deal well with that one. And it takes a weird bounce, which doesn't allow Illan to have a real good read on it, but I thought even after going down that early we responded the rest of the half and pushed the game.

"We find the goal in some ways a little bit unlucky not to find the second in the first half.

"Then to give credit to Wolves they pushed the game really hard and for the first 15 minutes we weren't at our best, we were running too much.”

“We didn't seem to have our legs and I knew at that point that making the right subs and having guys really prepared was going to be important.

"Klichy came in for me and made a big difference. And then Sam Greenwood as well. So it was good to see those guys come into the match and make a difference and then to see us be resilient, like we know we are, and find a way to validate the work with a good three points.

“One of Klichy’s qualities is he can run and I knew we were struggling to cover spaces a little bit where Neves was and to pick up some second balls and right away when he came to the match, he helped settle things down a little bit and he was in some good spaces.

"I thought he was disciplined with his positioning and then he made some good plays with the ball, including the second goal action. It was good.”

Leeds started in lively fashion and played at a high tempo from the off, but fell behind in the sixth minute when Kristensen was muscled off the ball by Pedro Neto and the Wolves winger's cross was headed down by Hwang Hee-Chan to Daniel Podence, who beat Illan Meslier with a shot that was hit into the ground and bounced over the keeper.

Leeds came close to hitting back when Aaronson produced some neat play on the edge of the box and saw his shot deflected wide.

Home fans were convinced they should have had a penalty soon after as Kristensen headed the ball at the back post before being clattered by Wolves keeper Jose Sa who got nowhere bear the ball. For whatever reason VAR did not get involved and the visitors escaped without punishment.

Patrick Bamford saw his shot from range easily saved by Sa, but Wolves remained dangerous as shown when Hee-Chan rounded Robin Koch only to shoot straight at Meslier.

It was 1-1 in the 24th minute when Aaronson won the ball in the box and Rodrigo then squeezed his near post shot under the diving Sa.

Roca was next to try his luck, but there was no mistake from Sa this time.

Meslier made an equally comfortable save at the other end to deny the excellent Neto and just before half-time both sides went close to going ahead.

Jack Harrison's cross somehow evaded two men in the box and moments earlier he was just a little slow and did not got a shot away after Bamford had been alert to take the ball off Sa with the goal briefly empty.

Right on the half-time whistle Leander Dendoncker was found unmarked in the home box only to see his low shot well saved by Meslier.

The second half was initially all Wolves with the Whites struggling to get out of their own half. Ruben Neves sent a shot wide from distance and saw another well blocked while Dendoncker's header from a corner was tipped over by Meslier.

Morgan Gibbs-White's shot was well held by Meslier then Rayan Ait-Nouri looked to be going clean through only for Kristensen to make a fantastic last ditch cover tackle.

Leeds finally found some possession and stunned their opponents with their second goal on 74 minutes. Effective substitute Mateusz Klich played Bamford in down the left and the striker played a superb low cross into the box, which was turned into his own net by Ait-Nouri who had to play the ball as Aaronson was directly behind him and ready to pounce for a debut goal.

With confidence back Leeds almost went further in front five minutes later as Harrison's cross found Bamford, but the striker's powerful header was well saved by Sa.

Max Kilman headed over from a corner at the other end, but that was the last worthwhile effort from a Wolves side that had deserved a draw, but ran out of ideas in the closing stages.

Young sub Sam Greenwood came closest to scoring another for the Whites with a 25-yard free-kick that was not far over.

(Rodrigo 24, Ait-Nouri og 74)

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

(Podence 6)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Premier League

Attendance: 36,347

Leeds: Meslier; Kristensen, Koch, Llorente, Struijk; Roca (Greenwood 72), Adams; Aaronson (Summerville 83), Rodrigo (Klich 64), Harrison; Bamford (Gelhardt 83).

Wolves: Sa; Jonny, Collins, Kilman, Ait-Nouri; Dendoncker, Neves, Gibbs-White; Podence, Neto, Hee-Chan (Campbell 85).

Referee: Robert Jones.