It’s only one game, but Marcelo Bielsa has already put his stamp on English football.
His Leeds United team picked up a commanding 3-1 victory over Stoke City, a side that many expect to be one of the contenders come the end of the season.
United had all the signs of a Bielsa team as they kept possession confidently and were full of energy in their high press once they lost the ball.
After dominating the early exchanges Leeds struck first when Spanish midfielder Samuel Saiz slipped a delightful pass behind the Stoke defence to Mateusz Klich who raced onto it to find the back of the Stoke City net.
Despite the intrigue surrounding Bielsa’s Leeds, it was the away side who went into this one as favourites having added quality in the likes of Benik Afobe and Tom Ince to an already excellent core of whom they managed to hold on to following relegation.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) August 5, 2018
Stoke, however, couldn’t find their rhythm at Elland Road and looked tired as they chased white shirts around for the opening 45.
Leeds then grabbed their second late in the half, Pablo Hernandez picked up the ball around twenty yards from goal and despite his strike lacking power, keeper Jack Butland failed to get enough behind him as it ricocheted off the England keeper’s gloves and fell into the back of the net.
In truth, it could have been 5 or 6 in the first half but it was Stoke who came out in the second the better side and nicked a goal back after debuting left-back Barry Douglas brought down Ince in the box and Benik Afobe calmly slotted the penalty passed Peacock-Farrell in the Leeds goal.
The optimism was short lived however as just a few minutes later Douglas made up for his earlier error by whipping a corner kick onto the head of Leeds captain Liam Cooper to restore United’s two-goal lead.
Stoke brought on the likes of Bojan Krkic and veteran striker Peter Crouch but despite a number of chances from the likes of McClean and Allen, the Potters simply were not good enough on the day as Bielsa introduced himself to the Championship in impressive style.