Leeds United won away against Elche CF thanks to an excellent second half fight back. Goals from Joe Gelhardt and Mateusz Klich turned the game around, after going in one-down at the interval.
Jesse Marsch’s side faced their La Liga opponents away from home, as they ramped up their preparations for the Premier League campaign getting back underway in late December.
The Whites had been without a competitive fixture since facing Tottenham Hotspur away from home in early November, due to the league being stopped for the World Cup in Qatar.
Leeds had spent the week building up to the game in a training camp on Spain’s south coast and ended their stay there with a trip to the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero.
When the match got underway, Elche had the ball in the net early on through the dangerous combination of Lucas Boye and Pete Milla, but the offside flag went up to deny the latter on the rebound, following an excellent save from Joel Robles initially.
Shortly after, Leeds came close themselves. Jack Harrison played Crysencio Summerville through into the box and as he went to shoot, he was blocked by John. Both players were injured in the challenge and despite receiving treatment, neither could continue in the game meaning a change on each side.
For much of the rest of the half, the hosts were on top under new head coach Pablo Machin. Mascarell struck over with a long-range half-volley, whilst Roger had a good chance but also put his effort well over.
Just before the interval, Elche took the lead in the game. Raul Guti played an excellent ball over the top and found the run of Josan on the wing. He controlled, raced into the box, then clipped the ball over Robles into the back of the net, via the post.
Leeds did have the final chance of the half, with the whistle going shortly after. Harrison’s free-kick was well placed into the box and found the head of Luke Ayling, but he flicked his effort wide of the post.
HALF TIME: Elche CF 1-0 Leeds United
The home side changed their full starting XI which had began the match during the break, meaning a new look team would come out of the dressing room. The Whites kept with the same team which had finished the second 45 minutes.
Leeds had their best chance of the match just 10 minutes or so into the second period. Sam Greenwood’s deep corner found Leo Hjelde who had an opportunity to head at goal, only to see it go wide.
However, a couple of minutes later, Marsch’s side would level with a brilliant team goal! Adam Forshaw began the attack with a switch to Rodrigo on the wing. He controlled the ball well, composed himself and played it inside to Harrison.
Harrison showed equally impressive composure to wait and find the run of Greenwood, who pinpointed Gelhardt at the back post to fire home at close range and level the score.
Following the goal, Leeds made six changes. Mateo Joseph, Sonny Perkins, Darko Gyabi, Willy Gnonto, Klich and Cody Drameh all replaced Liam Cooper, Rodrigo, Harrison, Marc Roca and Gelhardt.
Instantly into the action, Joseph went on a mazy run and came close to creating a second. His break forward created a chance for Klich who struck from the edge of the box, seeing his effort tipped just wide of the post.
Robles had to be alert with around 15 minutes to go in the match. Nico found some space to unleash a powerful effort, but the stopper got a strong hand high, to tip it wide of the post.
Leeds then had another big chance of their own. Brilliant work from Gyabi got his side up to the edge, then he played it to Klich, who flicked the ball over the top for Joseph. The young Spanish striker had to take it first time and shot narrowly over the bar.
With two minutes remaining, a stunning strike from Klich won the match for Leeds! He cut in from the left and unleashed a thunderous effort which flew into the top corner from 25-yards out.
A final piece of defending was needed to keep the result though, and impressive throughout the second half, Ayling put his body on the line to deny a last-gasp equaliser.
A productive week abroad in Spain for the Whites ended with a victory and at the end of the match, they were presented with the LXI Trofeo Festa D’Elx!
FULL TIME: Elche CF 1-2 Leeds United
Elche first half: Badia (GK) (C), Bigas, Guti, Boye, Milla, Palacios, Josan, Roger, Mascarell, Clerc, John (Verdu 13’).
Elche second half: Werner, Quina, Collado, Fidel, Ponce, Gumbau, Nico, Lirola, Lautaro, Cocca, Pamies, Verdu.
Leeds: Robles (GK), Ayling, Forshaw (Perkins 61'), Cooper (C) (Drameh 61’), Roca (Gyabi 61’), Summerville (Greenwood 11’), Harrison (Gnonto 61’), Rodrigo (Joseph 61’), Struijk, Gelhardt (Klich 61’), Hjelde. Subs not used: Van den Heuvel (GK).
Venue: Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero
Referee: Jose Martinez
Booked: Guti (Elche) Forshaw, Klich, Gyabi (Leeds)