Leeds United




Watford fell to a first defeat in four Sky Bet Championship games at the hands of recently-relegated Leeds United, with three goals in the second half settling the 3-0 scoreline at Elland Road.

The Hornets did well to weather a storm of home pressure in the first period, goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann keeping the clash goalless with a string of fine saves while his opposite number Illan Meslier was rarely called into action.

The match somewhat opened up after the interval and a swathe of changes preceded sights of goal for Imrân Louza and Vakoun Bayo, though Joël Piroe and Sam Byram strikes three minutes apart and a late Jaidon Anthony winner ultimately proved the difference between the teams.

The result sees the Golden Boys drop to 16th in the standings after eight 2023/24 outings, with a match-up against Middlesbrough next in store back at Vicarage Road (Saturday September 30, 3pm KO).

Head Coach Valérien Ismaël made two changes to the XI that started the entertaining draw against West Bromwich Albion in midweek, with Ryan Andrews and Jamal Lewis coming into defence in place of Jeremy Ngakia and James Morris respectively.

The hosts started brightly and put the Hornets on the back foot from the off, Piroe being gifted a free-kick in a dangerous area within the first minute before clever link-up play by Jamie Shackleton and Dan James led to the latter shooting off target.

Georginio Rutter was next to threaten with a darting run and cut-back from the left, and then Bachmann was called into action for the first time when he got down quickly to stop an Ethan Ampadu drive from just inside the box.

Bachmann came to the Hornets’ rescue again in the seventh minute when he beat Rutter to a clever, lofted through-ball from James, and the Austria international did well to palm away a deep Crysencio Summerville corner close to the quarter-hour mark.

Rutter had the ball in the back of the net for the Whites in the 20th minute, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside, and Summerville should perhaps have broken the deadlock seven minutes later, only to be denied by another strong Bachmann hand.

The home fans were incensed when referee Jeremy Simpson waved away penalty appeals following a Lewis challenge on James, and though the Golden Boys continued to battle they were unable to create any chance of note before half-time.

Ismaël opted for a triple change at the break, with Edo Kayembe, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Bayo replacing Ismaël Koné, Matheus Martins and Tom Ince, while Francisco Sierralta dropped into a back three alongside Wesley Hoedt and Ryan Porteous.

Following a tentative start to proceedings Sierralta popped up to clear a dangerous Summerville free-kick at the back post, after the Chilean conceded the foul to the left of the penalty area.

But Watford gradually got their foot on the ball, and home stopper Meslier was required to collect a Louza cross while Andrews and Dele-Bashiru looked bright in and around the 18-yard box.

Back at the other end Summerville was again at the centre of a Leeds opportunity, this time the Netherlands youth international skipping past Porteous and working himself into space, but shooting too close to Bachmann.

Away No.1 Bachmann comfortably watched a wild Piroe strike sail over the bar in the 61st minute, but a few moments later there was nothing he could do to stop the same man latching onto a sumptuous James ball at the back post to make it 1-0.

With the game’s momentum in their favour Leeds duly doubled their advantage in the 70th minute, defender Byram rising highest to head a James corner past Bachmann and leave the visitors with a steep hill to climb.

Bayo squandered a good chance to halve the deficit 13 minutes from time, after an accurate ball in from fellow substitute Yáser Asprilla out on the right, but the Ivorian could only skew his shot past Meslier’s post.

And home replacement Anthony soon put the result beyond doubt, the Bournemouth loanee making amends for an earlier miss by tucking past Bachmann for 3-0 a minute before the death.


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