Leeds hangs on for three points in seven-goal thriller with Fulham

After being on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline against Liverpool, Leeds United produced more vibrant attacking football along with defensive jitters.

Mateusz Klich scores Leeds United's second goal against Fulham.   -  Getty Images

Newly-promoted Leeds United continued its barnstorming return to the Premier League as it claimed its first points with a thrilling 4-3 win over Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday.

After being on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline at champion Liverpool on the opening day, Leeds, back in the top flight after a 16-year absence, produced more vibrant attacking football along with defensive jitters.

Two goals from Helda Costa and one apiece for Mateusz Klich and Patrick Bamford should have made for a more comfortable afternoon for Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.

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But Aleksandar Mitrovic's brace kept Fulham, promoted along with Leeds last season, in the hunt in an absorbing clash played out at a punishing tempo throughout.

For Leeds, the relief was palpable as the final whistle heralded their first top-flight win since April 2004.

“It was a little too close in the end,” Bamford, who also scored at Liverpool, told BT Sport.

“I think there will be a few long meetings this week to see what we can do better. The third goal made us panic a bit.”

While defensive coaches may pick holes in the Leeds' approach, there will be few complaints among the Yorkshire club's fans, or neutrals, if it keeps serving up this kind of entertainment.

It needed only five minutes to go ahead as Costa, unmarked at the back post, took a touch and smashed home.

Leeds played the ball around in fluid fashion but a rash tackle by new German signing Robin Koch saw Joe Bryan go down in the penalty area and Mitrovic converted from the penalty spot for his 50th goal in 100 league appearances for Fulham.

The visitor was only level for seven minutes though as Bryan pushed Bamford in the area, allowing Klich to calmly roll in the penalty and give Leeds an interval lead.

Bielsa's side began the second half in stunning fashion and Klich's sliderule pass cut open Fulham's defence, allowing Bamford to place his shot inside the far post.

Six minutes later Costa rifled home another powerful finish but it stung Scott Parker's Fulham back into life.

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Substitute Bobby Decordova-Reid fired into the bottom corner and when Mitrovic headed in Kenny Tete's cross there were still more than 20 minutes left on the clock.

Mitrovic went close to an equaliser and Neeskens Kebano hit the post for Fulham as Leeds wobbled but the host could also have added to its tally in a tense finale.

Like Leeds, Fulham's style was easy on the eye but Parker's side now has no points from two games, having conceded seven.

Bielsa happy with his attack

The canny Bielsa will know that too, but he is unlikely to drastically alter his side's refreshing approach.

“What the match showed was we have to continue what made us successful in the first place,” Bielsa said.

“The best way to get a result, rather than putting men behind the ball. As the competition goes on I think we will be able to improve our defence.”

While acknowledging that the defending was a worry, Bielsa praised his side's clinical attacking play and the way it managed to resist Fulham in the final stages.

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“Normally we need to create a lot to score goals and the opposite is happening,” he said.

“After the two goals we conceded in a short time and a shot that hit the post, we defended well and attacked well. That final period was the best part of this game.”

His Fulham counterpart Scott Parker faces a similar conundrum with his side's attack looking better-equipped for life in the top flight than his defence which, like Leeds, has conceded seven goals in two games.

“Overall, you can't expect to score four or five and get something out of the game,” he said. “At 4-1, the floodgates could have opened but the team kept believing.”

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