Georginio Rutter lights up Elland Road as Leeds United are smiles ahead against Watford
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It took them 67 minutes to break the deadlock, but the Whites went on to enjoy a 3-0 success over Watford that would have been at least a six-goal thrashing had it not been for a terrific performance from visiting goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann.
And in the middle of a stunning attacking display was Georginio Rutter with a display that finally showed why the club parted with £33 million for his services.
He may not have scored a goal to crown his performance as he missed a golden chance in the first half and had another effort rightly chalked off for offside, but his performance lit up Elland Road as he produced a bag of tricks that made him look several leagues above the Championship level.
With fans singing his name from the off, he rewarded them with easily his best display in a Leeds shirt and set up one of the best goals ever scored at the ground.
The only disappointment was that the team did not win by more goals so dominant were they in a 17 shots to three game.
United were quickly into stride with Dan James combining well with Kippax lad Jamie Shackleton – chosen ahead of Luke Ayling at right-back – only to send a weak shot wide.
Ethan Ampadu came within a whisker of his first goal for Leeds after he had been well teed up by Joel Piroe on the edge of the box. But his fourth minute shot was superbly saved low down by Bachmann.
Rutter should then have put the Whites ahead as he raced onto James' astute ball into the box, but could not beat Bachmann from eight yards out.
Good passing led to Piroe having a shot easily saved before Rutter sent another shot wide in a dominating first 15 minutes.
Crysencio Summerville was another to have a great game and he was next to be denied by an impressive Bachmann save after getting on the end of a fine move involving Rutter.
Summerville then went on an impressive run at the Watford defence only to see his shot well held by the keeper.
A contentious moment saw Piroe play James in with a fantastic through ball with the winger then shoved in the back by Jamal Lewis when in the area. A blatant penalty surely - but not according to referee Jeremy Simpson who was a figure of hate to Leeds fans as he usually is when reffing them.
Simpson angered supporters a number of times with his inconsistency and his performance took the shine off what had been a great display by United in the opening 45 minutes.
Watford manager Valerian Ismael responded to his team’s first half display by making three changes to his team, but it did not make much difference to the match, apart from opening the pitch up a bit more for further home team attacking.
Only another good save by Bachmann denied Summerville then Piroe shot over from the edge of the box after a clever run by Summerville.
The opening goal finally arrived on 67 minutes as James raced clear down the right and produced a pinpoint cross for Piroe to calmly volley home at the far post.
It was 2-0 within three minutes when James’ corner was powerfully headed home by Sam Byram for his first goal since returning to the club in the summer.
A rare Watford attack saw Vakoun Bayo miss a great chance in shooting wide from inside the area, but it was back to Leeds dominance as substitute Jaidon Anthony went on a good run that ended with a curling shot once more well saved by Bachmann.
Anthony was on target a minute from time with a goal of rare beauty. He supplied the calm finish, but it was after a brilliant run from Rutter who started the move from deep inside his own half, showed great skill to swerve past two players then played the perfect through ball. Goal of the season contender for sure.
Manager Daniel Farke hailed the display as the most complete since he took over at Elland Road.
He said: “It was a great performance.
"Some magic touches and crazy scenes, it seemed like everything worked, but returning with a clean sheet is the most pleasing thing for me.
“I was so so happy with the first half. We totally dominated, created so many chances and didn't let them have a chance in the half, it was hard for them even to have a touch in our half.
“We could have scored a few more but we also showed discipline to stay concentrated and focused.
“We had the greediness to bring it over the line. Illan had to be there, he stayed that concentrated and focused until the 95th minute.
"It was definitely the most complex performance in my tenure because we were rock solid in all areas, our pressing and counter pressing were spot on, build up, midfield play.
“We must not forget they're a pretty good side. To dominate totally throughout is pretty pleasing. We can take lots of confidence out of the performance but it was just one game, just three points, this league is relentless.”
Farke made a point of having an on-field chat with star performer Rutter on the pitch at the end of the game and revealed what he said to him.
He explained: "Especially today I can be more strict because he got so much praise from the press, the supporters and rightly so – he was outstanding. But I've already used it to say don't embarrass the opponent. Don't do some crazy things. I don't get the feeling he did this.
“Out of joy and pure fun, make sure its not over the line. I said all our magic touches worked out in the end but once we're chasing a game or defending like the last game then don't use the backheel that much.
“He's a really young player on his way to find his perfect balance. If we guide him with good leadership and honesty then he’s on a good path.”
Farke was delighted with his team's efforts over a week in which Leeds picked up seven points from three games.
He added: "Seven points, three cleans sheets, performance-wise you cannot complain.”
(Piroe 67, Byram 70, Anthony 89)
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Meslier; Shackleton (Ayling 90), Struijk, Cooper, Byram; Ampadu, Kamara (Gruev 90); James (Poveda 84), Piroe (Gray 84), Summerville; Rutter.
Watford: Bachmann; Andrews, Porteous, Hoedt, Lewis (Chakvetadze 80); Sierralta, Kone (Kayembe 45); Ince (Dele-Bashiru 45), Louza, Martins; Rajovic (Bayo 45).
Referee: Jeremy Simpson