Marcelo Bielsa looking to team match winner Eddie Nketiah up with Patrick Bamford
The fans have a new favourite in Eddie Nketiah, but Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa played down his impact after the Arsenal loanee came off the bench to seal three points against Brentford.
Nketiah scored on his Leeds debut at Salford last week and followed up with a goal on his home debut when he came up with an 81st minute winner against opponents who have been a bogey side to the Whites in recent years.
Brentford were looking set to take something from their latest visit to Elland Road with the game goalless going into the last 10 minutes when Nketiah was given a chance laid on a plate by a cross from fellow substitute Helder Costa.
The chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” that had met the arrival on the pitch of United’s new striker were now deafening and a new hero has been born.
Bielsa admitted he was looking at a way of getting Nketiah into the starting 11 as well as fellow striker Patrick Bamford, but he did not go overboard on his lively display and impact against Brentford.
He said: “When one striker scores with very few minutes, you cannot say a lot of things about this.
“(Playing up front with Bamford) depends on the needs of the game. According to the opponent and what they are doing, we may go with two strikers.
“Sometimes (playing) with a lot of strikers can have positive and negative impacts. The key is to read the game and make a decision game by game.
“It is important to play both together. They mix well. One is right-footed and the other left. Down the sides. Can play one in front and one in behind. They can make the link and make movements.”
Bielsa had no doubts Leeds were good value for their 1-0 win.
He added: “We deserved to win. We dominated. We didn’t create a lot of great chances, but enough to make a difference.
“You never know with this type of game, which are on the limit. Sometimes in these games when you are looking for a goal you can concede.
“The team defended well and didn’t do anything bad. It was a physical, demanding game. The best moments were when we attacked.
“We defended well. The opponent didn’t have enough clear chances.”
Leeds made a slow start as they struggled initially to come to terms with their opponents’ 3-4-3 formation and Sergi Canos had the first shot, a weak effort from 20 yards that was easily dealt with Kiko Casilla.
Brentford almost took the lead in the 23rd minute when Bryan Mbeumo struck the post with a well struck angled shot.
The ball was quickly transferred to the other end and after a cross was only half cleared Mateusz Klich fired in a volley that brought the first save from visiting keeper David Raya.
United suddenly started to passed the ball more crisply and Patrick Bamford headed over a good chance after meeting Gianni Alioski’s cross.
Bamford soon had another opportunity when getting on the end of Alioski’s chip, but he headed the ball agonisingly wide over an advancing Raya with the goal gaping.
One more chance was fashioned by the Whites before half-time when Adam Forshaw could not direct a header on target after the ball had been fizzed into the box.
United stepped up their pace at the start of the second half, but struggled to create clear openings against a Brentford defence well marshalled by former Elland Road hero Pontus Jansson.
Forshaw hit a 20-yarder straight at the keeper and Pablo Hernandez sent a shot over from distance after a corner was punched out to him.
Five corners were forced in 10 minutes after none in the opening half, but the visitors survived the pressure and appeared to be lucky when Klich’s shot hit the arm of Julian Jeanvier and no penalty was awarded.
Brentford broke out of defence to create one chance only for Ollie Watkins to shoot just wide of the post.
Bielsa turned to his bench as he put Costa and Nketiah on and the latter almost made an impact with his first touch as he latched onto a poor Brentford pass just inside the visitors’ half and showed lightning pace to race towards goal. He got a shot in, but saw it deflected and saved by Raya.
Nketiah’s next touch was to score as he was given a tap-in after Klich’s pass slipped Costa in down the right and the winger showed fantastic pace to get clear and deliver a perfect low cross.
Brentford exerted some late pressure in a bid for an equaliser, but the Whites defended well and it was all over once Said Benrahma sent a shot over from the edge of the box in injury-time.
Leeds United 1
Leeds: Casilla, Dallas, White, Cooper Alioski, Phillips, Hernandez (Nketiah 77), Forshaw, Klich, Harrison (Costa 65), Bamford.
Brentford: Raya, Jeanvier, Jansson, Pinnock (Marcondes 89), Dalsgaard, Jensen, Norgaard, Henry, Mbeumo (Dasilva 67), Watkins, Canos (Benrahma 78).
Referee: Andy Davies