Report and free match highlights as Diego Llorente returns to the Leeds XI and helps them win their first Premier League game of the season; Christian Kabasele pokes home an equaliser in the second half, but it is ruled out for a foul in the build-up
Sunday 3 October 2021 09:10, UK
Leeds got their first Premier League win of the season, beating Watford 1-0 at Elland Road, after the visitors had a goal ruled out for a contentious foul.
After a ninth-place finish in the last campaign, Leeds had found themselves in the bottom three early on this time around. They had never failed to win their opening seven games of a top-flight season, and the pressure for three points was on.
But it was a dominant performance from the hosts, who looked to be getting back to their best, and they deservedly went ahead through the returning Diego Llorente (18).
Watford looked lethargic and made numerous errors throughout, even without two of their three substitutions being made due to injury. They did find the net in the second half in their best five-minute spell, but Christian Kabasele's poke home was ruled out after he was judged to have fouled Liam Cooper in the build-up.
There was no VAR review, but Soccer Saturday pundit Michael Dawson did not agree with the referee's decision, saying: "I have no idea why this has been disallowed... There might have been a push, but I don't see one!"
However, it was ultimately a deserved win for Leeds, who move into 16th place in the Premier League table. Watford drop down into 14th.
Leeds had the best early chances after some sloppy Watford play. William Troost-Ekong made two good blocks in quick succession, keeping Raphinha and Dan James from scoring. Ben Foster also made a good save from Stuart Dallas' effort, before poking the ball away from danger as James lurked.
Leeds continued to push and took a deserved lead in the 18th minute. Raphinha delivered a corner, and Watford's Juraj Kucka nodded it down into the middle. It landed to Llorente, who guided the ball home quite wonderfully with the side of his foot.
Leeds: Meslier (6), Firpo (7), Cooper (7), Llorente (7), Dallas (8), Shackleton (7), Phillips (7), Klich (7), Raphinha (8), James (8), Rodrigo (7).
Subs used: Roberts (6), Struijk (n/a).
Watford: Foster (7), Rose (7), Troost-Ekong (6), Tufan (6), Sissoko (5), Femenia (5), Sarr (5), Dennis (5), Sierralta (5), Kucka (6), King (5).
Subs used: Sema (5), Joao Pedro (5), Kabasele (6).
Man of the match: Raphinha.
Watford's first shot came in the 28th minute and was their only effort of note in the first half. Ozan Tufan - making his first Premier League start - sent an effort blazing across the face of goal and into the stands.
Leeds continued to see chances fall their way - Raphinha and Mateusz Klich going close - but the half continued to sour for Watford when Joshua King was forced off just before the break after twisting his knee.
Despite being forced into another injury substitution after Francisco Sierralta pulled his hamstring, Watford did show some signs of life around the 70-minute mark after another dominant spell from Leeds.
Illan Meslier made a good save as Troost-Ekong tried to fire home on the angle, with the goalkeeper taking a whack to the shoulder on the process. From the resulting corner, Watford had the ball in the net, but the goal was ruled out.
On a wet and windy afternoon, Meslier could not keep hold of the ball, seeing it slip out of his hands. Kabasele was lurking after a tussle with Liam Cooper and poked the ball over the line as Meslier scrambled to keep it out. But the flag was raised - Kabasele judged to have fouled the Leeds captain - and the strike was chalked off, with VAR deciding not to intervene.
After missing a plethora of chances throughout, Leeds' biggest miss of the afternoon came late on. Foster spilled a Leeds free-kick with Tyler Roberts sending the loose ball goalwards. Kucka was there to see if off the line, only for the Leeds midfield to have the ball back at his feet. He tried again, but his second effort pinged off the crossbar before Watford managed to clear.
It was another impressive performance from the forward. He corner was turned home for Leeds' winner, and he led the way for shots (5 - level with Dallas) and crosses (9). All the good moments of Leeds' attacking play, Raphinha was likely involved somewhere along the way.
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa: "The amount of chances, the amount of balls we had to attack, made us think we could have scored more goals. But as we defended well, the triumph was never in danger.
"It's a detail that is very necessary to build victories [clean sheets] and today we avoided that so it didn't create any danger."
On Watford's disallowed goal: "It's not a benefit [of the doubt], it is an application of a rule."
Watford manager Xisco: "I don't think about this [the disallowed goal], I'm thinking about the performance.
"I'm disappointed with the performance. In the first half, it was not on our level, we were a little disordered, we leave big spaces and I don't agree with the first half. But the second half, there was a little more order, but the capacity for our team was attacking poorly in situations.
"We need to improve. We need to know exactly what is one point in the Premier League, what is difficult about getting the points here and giving more consistency in the performance.
"We can be more ordered, we can stay more compact, we can play more with the same idea. We can give better every day, we can train better, we can improve faster and with the level of the Premier League, this is the moment to take that step forward."
The Premier League now takes a weekend off for the international break. Both teams are back in action on Saturday October 16, with Leeds travelling to Southampton (kick-off 3pm), while Watford welcome Liverpool (kick-off 12.30pm).