Marcelo Bielsa remains cautious despite Leeds United’s flying start
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa was understandably content, but refused to get carried away with Leeds United’s opening day victory over Bristol City.
The Whites got off to a flying start with a 3-1 success and an impressive display that immediately showed that last season’s exploits can be repeated.
Pablo Hernandez, Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison notched the goals with United in complete control against likely top half opponents before Bristol City enjoyed a late revival that brought them a goal from Andreas Weimann.
Bielsa did not go overboard in his praise of his team as he said afterwards: “We managed both halves very well in the first 30 minutes, but at the same time, in the last 15 minutes we conceded too much possession,
“You watch how you play in the first 30 minutes of each you could avoid these types of concessions that you give in the last part of the game.
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“The average of the team was very positive with three, four, five players over this average.
“But I know perfectly well that this is a long season.”
Bielsa praised new defender Ben White, striker Bamford and playmaker Hernandez and admitted he would like to keep Kemar Roofe, who looks set to sign for Anderlecht in a £7 million move.
He added: “I can’t be happy if Roofe leaves.
“It could be that he doesn’t continue with us. If I tell you this when a striker, who scored 15 goals last season, [leaves] it would be stupid if I accept this situation.
“But I have to adapt if it finally happens.”
Bielsa kept big summer signing Helder Costa on the bench, but handed centre-back Ben White his Leeds debut in defence alongside skipper Liam Cooper.
White settled well as did his teammates as Leeds quickly settled into their passing style established last season.
Bristol had a first sight of goal with a 20-yard free-kick from Kasey Palmer that was easily saved by Kiko Casilla, but gradually United began to carve out chances.
Bamford shot wide when well placed in the area and Leeds broke the deadlock on 26 minutes when Adam Forshaw found Hernandez in space on the edge of the box. The Spaniard then worked his magic, turning well to beat keeper Dan Bentley with a great strike into the top corner of the net.
The hosts struggled to make much headway, but did create a chance just before half-time as Josh Brownhill’s low shot in a crowded box was met by a smart save from Casilla.
Leeds were inches away from a second goal, though, when Forshaw fired a shot just past the post.
United stepped up their sharpness after the break and doubled their lead as Hernandez breezed past Callum O’Dowda and picked out Bamford in the middle. The centre forward made space well and headed home to cap his encouraging display that was substantially better than the way he ended the last campaign.
In the next five minutes three more chances were carved out and the home team were lucky to stay in the game as Harrison hit a shot over, Forshaw went close and Hernandez saw a shot blocked.
Brownhill hit a free-kick into the side netting at the other end, but Leeds made it 3-0 on 72 minutes as right-back Stuart Dallas made a great run down the right and pulled the ball back for Mateusz Klich inside the area. The Polish midfielder saw his shot blocked only for the rebound to fall nicely for Harrison to score.
Klich almost had a goal himself two minutes later when well set up by Bamford, but it was City who had the chances from then on after pulling a goal back out of the blue through Weimann who was allowed to run into the box too easily.
Jamie Paterson fired a free-kick over and Weimann sent a near post header over as Leeds suddenly looked shaky at the back. However, they survived for a fully deserved opening win of the season.
Bristol City 1
Leeds United 3
(Hernandez 26, Bamford 57, Harrison 72)
Bristol City: Bentley, Hunt, Kalas, Moore, Dasilva, Brownhill, Pack, Weimann, Palmer (Paterson 64), O’Dowda (Eliasson 64), Diedhiou (Taylor 80).
Leeds United: Casilla, Dallas, White, Cooper, Douglas (Alioski 80), Phillips, Klich (Costa 75), Forshaw, Hernandez, Harrison (Davis 85), Bamford.
Referee: Tim Robinson