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Leeds United celebrate winning start against Wolves in npower Championship
EL Hadji Diouf may make his full Leeds United debut at Blackpool on Tuesday after a great cameo performance helped secure the Whites a 1-0 opening day victory against Wolves at a sweltering Elland Road.
He replaced the injured Paul Green just before half-time and although Leeds missed the Republic of Ireland midfielder’s drive and energy, Diouf’s control and ball retention were crucial in relieving pressure as the visitors battled for an equaliser in the later stages.
He looked completely calm – not a trait always associated with Diouf – and had a match awareness that could rub off on Neil Warnock’s new-look side, which kicked off with eight Championship debutants.
Should Green not recover from a knee injury then Diouf, or Michael Brown, could get a starting berth at Blackpool, 2-0 winners at Millwall on Saturday.
Warnock began his bid for an eighth career promotion with a 1-0 win secured by Luciano Becchio ’s goal on 17 minutes.
Paddy Kenny’s super long kick was instantly controlled by Ross McCormack on the left. The Scot, who scored for his country in midweek and penned a three-year deal on the eve of Wolves’ visit, capped a great week by delivering a brilliant cross for Becchio to net with a fine stooping header.
The McCormack-Becchio combination continually unsettled the Wanderers’ backline who, despite a height advantage all round the pitch, looked vulnerable when dealing with set-piece crosses whipped in by the lively McCormack.
Leeds could not find the cushion of a second goal their overall play deserved and had to dig deep defensively in the second period as the Molineux men packed with Premiership experience bossed possession.
But for all their neat approach work, the Black Country team barely tested Kenny in goal as central midfielder Rodolph Austin and defenders Jason Pearce and Lee Peltier kept a firm grip on the Wolves forwards.
A delighted Warnock said: “We have a few niggles around the place, so we’ve done well.
“You have to do what we did. The Championship is a different league to the top level. The players loved the atmosphere and playing in front of a big crowd. That was something I didn’t think we had about us last year.”
Leeds United: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Pearce, White, Green (Diouf 44), Austin, Norris, Varney, McCormack (Lees 74), Becchio. Subs (not used): Ashdown, Drury, Kisnorbo, Brown, Gray.
Wolves: Ikeme, Zubar, Steadman (Edwards 82), Johnson, Ward, Forde (Peszko HT), Doumbia, Henry, Jarvis , Doyle, Ebanks-Blake (Sigurdarson 69).
Referee: Tony Bates (Burslem).
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