Leeds United produced another stunning display of high intensity football to thrash Frank Lampard’s Derby 4-1 at Pride Park on Saturday, and Kemar Roofe again personified the approach that new boss Marcelo Bielsa is trying to instil in his side.
Roofe had put in an impressive display against Stoke on the opening weekend of the Championship season, but that mainly consisted of hard work and putting defenders under pressure. This weekend however, the 25-year-old added the end product needed to keep new signing Patrick Bamford on the bench for the Whites.
Mateusz Klich set the tone and opened the scoring for Leeds after just five minutes with a beautiful curling strike from the edge of the area and it looked as though Leeds would blow Derby away as they did to Stoke. Welshman Tom Lawrence clearly had other ideas though and smashed a free-kick through Leeds keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell just seven minutes later to equalise.
Then it was time for Roofe to turn on the style. Having scored just 11 goals in the league last term, many questioned whether Roofe was prolific enough to lead the line in a promotion push this season, and the arrival of Bamford from Middlesbrough would have had him worried for his spot.
With just 20 minutes gone and the score at 1-1, Ezgjan Alioski floated a cross into the Derby box which Roofe, after a classy bit of movement, met to direct back into the bottom corner. This header was one of six aerial duels that the Englishman won throughout the game, showing Bielsa that despite being just 5ft 10in he has the presence to lead the line in the Championship.
With just 37 touches and 21 passes, Roofe was actually on the ball less than any other Leeds player, including Peacock-Farrell in goal. However, as a front man he didn’t need to hold onto the ball to make his impact. His hard work put Derby’s defence under pressure all game and will have pleased his new boss.
Despite this, Roofe’s second and Leeds’ third goal showed the true quality that is required to push for promotion to the Premier League. The striker collected a pass from Klich on the edge of the box and span 180 degrees before beating Scott Carson to put the game to bed for Leeds and secure two wins from two for Bielsa.
New boy Bamford could get his first chance to impress the Argentine in the Carabao Cup tie at Elland Road on Tuesday, but after Roofe’s performance against Derby he’s under pressure to produce something very special to force his way into the starting XI on a regular basis.
So, Leeds fans, who do you think should start upfront in the next Championship fixture at home to Rotherham?