Second half goals from Luke Ayling and Kemar Roofe maintained Leeds United’s 100 per cent start to the season as they beat a determined Rotherham United side 2-0 in front of 33,699 at Elland Road.
The Whites were given a test as they were not ahead at half-time for the first time this season, but found answers after the break when they totally dominated and thoroughly deserved to win it three wins from three in the Sky Bet Championship.
Rotherham came with a well worked out approach of sitting deep to stop Leeds down the middle and they were quick to break onto any mistakes the hosts made, hitting the woodwork in a first half in which they gave as good as they got.
But it was a different story after the interval as the Whites played some good passing football and played almost the entire 45 minutes camped in their opponents’ half to help Marcelo Bielsa to become the first Leeds boss to win his first four games in charge.
Leeds started brightly as they have in all their games this season with Kalvin Phillips firing a shot over from range and Roofe showing nice feet in the box to open space before firing a shot inches wide.
Samu Saiz was next to work space on the edge of the box, but his weak left foot shot was easily saved by Rotherham keeper Marek Rodak.
The visitors’ first threat came on 24 minutes when Ryan Williams latched onto a suicidal pass across their own six-yard box by the Whites, but keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell stood up big to block.
Ayling offered a threat at the other end only for his snap shot to flash just wide.
Rotherham went closest to scoring in the opening half when Jon Taylor got onto a loose ball in midfield and his strike from distance cannoned off the post with Peacock-Farrell possibly getting fingertips to the strike.
Williams then saw a header saved by Peacock-Farrell and Matthew Palmer sent a strike inches over following a good run by dangerous left winger Williams.
Leeds still remained a threat themselves with Mateusz Klich’s dipping shot only just clearing the crossbar and big shouts for a penalty waved away as Pablo Hernandez’s cross hit a Rotherham defender’s arm.
Gaetano Berardi was another to try his luck for distance with a swerving shot that was tipped over by Rodak.
The start of the second half was explosive by Leeds as they produced a good move in the first half that saw a cross just flash wide then they opened the scoring.
The initial chance fell to Liam Cooper, but his effort was saved by Rodak, the follow-up shot by Roofe seemed to be going wide, but Ayling popped up with a flying header. The ball was blocked by a visiting defender, but he was over the line and after a pause for goalline technology to be clear the goal was given.
Rotherham continued to defend stubbornly, but could not get any attacks of their own going and it seemed only a matter of time before another goal followed.
Roofe saw a shot blocked and Saiz got on the end of a great move only to see his shot cleared off the line before the Whites doubled their advantage in the 71st minute.
Roofe chased a fine long pass down the touchline by Barry Douglas, turned past his marker then cut inside at pace to beat the keeper with a well placed shot from a tight angle.
Rotherham threw on forwards to chase the game, but their only effort in the half was a Ryan Manning turn and shot that resulted in a fine save by Peacock-Farrell.
Leeds saw out the game comfortably to record their fourth win in all competitions,
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa put the victory down to faith in his team and Rotherham tiring for their first half efforts.
He said: “The problems we had during the first half were more linked to our own goal rather then a lack of offensive actions.
“We have been better than in the first half. In many ways we built too much from the back, in a lateral way not a vertical one.
“It was not easy for us to go from a defensive position to an offensive one. Our crosses were not very good, but in spite of all this we were faithful to all our staff.
“In the second half the opponent did not have an offensive actions and they were more tired so we had more spaces to attack.
“Today looked more like a Championship game. We could have ended the first half with conceding goals. They had three clear moments where they could have scored and these actions were provoked by the mistakes we made when we built from the back.
“The offensive transition from our opponents were faster than the time we took to go back and they won some disputed balls. This indicates that the style has some difficulties to impose itself.
“But I still think we deserved to win the game.”
Leeds United 2
(Ayling 49, Roofe 71)
Rotherham United 0
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Douglas, Phillips, Hernandez, Klich (Jansson 90+1), Saiz (Baker 80), Alioski, Roofe (Bamford 86).
Rotherham: Rodak, Vyner, Raggett, Wood (Vassell 75), Mattock, Ajayi, Vaulks, Taylor, Palmer (Manning 66), Williams, Smith (Proctor 78).
Referee: Robert Jones.