Leeds United ended pre-season in style, scoring six goals against Italian side Cagliari at Elland Road. A well-taken hat-trick from Rodrigo and a Patrick Bamford double came before Robin Koch sealed the win in the final few seconds.
The Elland Road crowd were in great spirits, with many in the crowd cheering on the England Lionesses as they made it a historic night of football with victory against Germany at Wembley, to lift the Women’s Euros trophy!
Under the lights in West Yorkshire, Jesse Marsch’s side took on their Italian counterparts looking to end pre-season on a high and straight from kick-off they set off aiming to do just that. Bamford and Koch had early chances on goal, whilst Rodrigo and Harrison also tested the ‘keeper as Leeds dominated the early exchanges.
Down the other end, Illan Meslier had to be alert from Zito Luvumbo’s near-post effort after he had raced clear down the wing and cut into the box, before striking at goal.
Marc Roca was on the end of the another free-flowing move by Leeds, but he was denied and firmly added to the list of Boris Radunovic’s first-half save showreel, before the breakthrough did finally arrive.
Spanish international Rodrigo - who had been lively throughout - was the player to collect the ball inside the box after another clever move and in doing so, steadied himself and picked his moment to fire into the top corner and open the scoring.
That would be that for the first 45 back on home turf, with Marsch’s side taking a more-than-deserved one goal advantage into the dressing room.
HALF TIME: Leeds United 1-0 Cagliari
Leeds came out unchanged for the second half, with the same team that started the match, ultimately ending it, in what was a goal fest in the second period of the game.
Rodrigo had taken 36 first half minutes to find the net, but he only needed three after the restart when he latched onto a clever Jack Harrison pass to poke home beyond Radunovic, via a slight deflection on the way.
The floodgates were now open and a long-awaited return of a Bamford goal at Elland Road was seen, with a special assist from summer-signing Brenden Aaronson. The midfielder slid Leeds’ number nine through on goal with the outside of his right-foot, splitting the defence open, before Bamford did the rest by finishing low into the corner.
After Rodrigo came close to completing a hat-trick, the away side looked to hit back and claw their way back into the game. Gianluca Lapadula found space in the box and cleverly dinked the ball over Meslier, to reduce the score to 3-1.
In the same way the home side had done, Cagliari quickly followed that goal up with another. This time Zito Luvumbo wasn’t denied as he rocketed an effort into the top corner, bringing his side within one of Leeds.
However, the hope of completing a comeback was short lived. Combination play between Pascal Struck and Harrison on the wing gave Bamford another chance inside the box and he tucked it away for his second and his teams fourth of the day.
Into the final 10 minutes, the hat-trick did arrive for Rodrigo, as he was found in the box to slot home after superb linkup play between Bamford and Aaronson this time!
There was still time for a sixth and yet again it was the impressive Aaronson who was the creator! He whipped in a free-kick from the right of the pitch and round Koch, who powered home a header.
The final whistle blew after to end a productive pre-season for the Whites, with attentions now turning to Wolves in the Premier League opener next weekend.
Leeds United 6 (Rodrigo 36’, 48’, 84’, Bamford 50’, 71’, Koch 90’)
Cagliari 2 (Lapadula 66’, Luvumbo 68’)
Leeds: Meslier (GK), Koch, Aaronson, Roca, Bamford (C), Harrison, Adams, Llorente, Rodrigo, Struijk, Kristensen. Subs: Christy (GK), Perkins, Costa, Poveda, Klich, Joseph, Carole, Spencer.
Cagliari: Radunovic (GK), Goldaniga, Di Pardo, Luvumbo, Altare, Lella, Pereiro, Viola, Carboni, Pavoletti (C), Makoumbou. Subs: Aresti (GK), Kourfalidis, Cavuoti, Zappa, Farago, Boccia, Contini, Obert, Paulina, Lapadula, Walukiewicz.
Venue: Elland Road
Referee: D. Coote
Booked: Makoumbou, Luvumbo, Farago, Zappa (Cagliari)
FULL TIME: Leeds United 6-2 Cagliari