Grant McCann’s Hull City side proved their worth in the end on Tuesday night as Marco Bielsa’s Leeds United lost 9-8 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to see the Tigers move onto the third round of the Carabao Cup and face a trip to the London Stadium to play West Ham United next week.
Hull raced into a 1-0 lead courtesy of Mallik Wilks after five minutes and looked extremely comfortable for the majority of the game. Leeds dominated possession, but the Tigers gave them no opportunity in front of goal - in fact, Hull were unfortunate not to go into the half time break two or three goals to the good.
The second half was a similar story. Both sides made changes as the game went on, but Hull looked the most likely to win it. Greg Docherty and James Scott could and perhaps should have put the game to bed.
The East Yorkshire side were made to pay for their lack of end product up front, despite being extremely impressive all over the park. Leeds were incredibly fortunate to grab a late goal from Ezgjan Alioski. Bielsa’s side took until the 88th minute to register a shot on target, but the game advanced to penalties.
What happened was a great display of penalties from both sides. Only Alioski and Lewie Coyle missed their spot-kicks for their respective sides before Jamie Shackleton saw his effort saved by Matt Ingram and Alfie Jones side-footed the Tigers into the third round and knock Leeds out.
Eleven changes from Bielsa - too many?
Many fans would have expected Marcelo Bielsa to ring the changes in the cup tie - Leeds play against fellow Premier League newcomers Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday, and the Argentine will no doubt play his strongest team there to kickstart their first season in the top flight for 16 years.
However, not a single player from the 4-3 defeat to Liverpool started the Carabao cup game against Hull City, and many questioned the decision to captain Kiko Casilla alongside this. Perhaps this suggests Bielsa does not take this competition seriously - or, more disrespectfully - thought that the Tigers would be a pushover. If it were the latter, he was proved spectacularly wrong by their Yorkshire rivals.
McCann’s youthful side started on fire
Just like at Gillingham last Saturday, Hull started the game with great intensity and were ahead early on. Mallik Wilks bagged his first competitive Hull City goal since July in Hull’s first real attack, and the Tigers did not lay down after that. Greg Docherty, George Honeyman, Keane Lewis-Potter and Wilks all put the pressure on the Leeds defence in the first half, forcing several mistakes and creating numerous chances to extend their lead.
The second half saw all the substitutions introduced impress, with new signing Thomas Mayer and youngsters Billy Chadwick and Callum Jones all making an impact off the bench.
Ian Poveda the only bright spark for United
Leeds were poor all game, but praise should be reserved for the young forward Poveda. He always tried to make a difference on the right. He gave Hull left-back Callum Elder a few headaches in the second period but was the only stand out player from a much-changed Leeds outfit, which included a £20+ million signing in Rodrigo. Despite their possession, Hull nullified them superbly well until the last gasp equaliser from Alioski.
Whether the former Manchester City youngster can force his way into Bielsa’s Premier League plans remains to be seen, but he certainly came away from the game with more credit than the rest of his teammates.
Docherty inspires the Tigers
To a man, Hull worked tirelessly and few would deny they deserved to go through to the third round. On another night they could have scored four or five, and many players impressed. Mallik Wilks grabbed the goal for Hull and gave the Leeds centre-halves a torrid time, and George Honeyman controlled the midfield extremely well. Lewie Coyle looked very good on his long-awaited Hull debut, but special praise should be reserved for Docherty.
The midfielder broke up play superbly and always looked to get forward at every opportunity. He could have scored in open play a couple of times, but Kika Casilla kept him at bay with a couple of good saves. Crucially, he took his penalty well - and won plaudits from the Tigers faithful for staring the Leeds keeper down once he’d sent the keeper the wrong way after words were exchanged before the spot-kick was taken.
All in all, Grant McCann will be delighted with his team - whereas Marcelo Bielsa will almost certainly not be looking to put any of those who played in the white of Leeds in for the game against Fulham at the weekend.