Rams ruin Leeds return
Commons penalty seals deserved win for Rams at Elland Road
Last Updated: 07/08/10 7:51pm
Commons: Scored winner
Nigel Clough's Derby ruined Leeds' return to the Championship with a deserved 2-1 win at Elland Road.
All the goals came in the first period, with the visitors taking the lead in the 13th minute when Paul Green won the ball and made a great run at the Leeds box before teeing-up Rob Hulse to slot home.
But the Whites were back level three minutes later after Jonny Howson passed from the right of the box for the unmarked Luciano Becchio to score in acres of space at the far post.
But the Rams were not to be denied and scored the eventual winner via a 27th minute penalty after Tomasz Cywka was felled by Lloyd Sam in the box.
Kris Commons sent the home keeper Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way from the spot, with his strike proving enough for the Rams to condemn Leeds to their first opening-day defeat in 21 years.
It was a miserable start to the Championship campaign for Simon Grayson's men, who despite plenty of energy in attack were indebted to Schmeichel for a string of outstanding saves to limit Derby to two goals.
County manager Clough, given a frosty welcome by the home fans because of his late father Brian's relationship with Leeds, will not be too worried about his side's finishing just yet, though, as they got their season off to a flying start.
Backed by a 27,000-strong crowd, the Whites started with bundles of energy but were given an early warning of Derby's attacking intent when Commons drove over after a weaving run.
Bradley Johnson then attempted to hook in from an improbable angle for Leeds, before the home side went close through Neill Collins' header from Neil Kilkenny's cross.
But Elland Road fell into near silence shortly after when former Leeds striker Hulse gave Derby a 13th-minute lead.
Hulse scored 20 goals for United during their last spell in the Championship, and refused to celebrate in front of his former fans when he drove home from an angle after Green had robbed Howson of possession near the halfway line and ran at the Leeds box.
Howson scored one of the two goals that took Leeds up on the final day of last season, and he was soon making amends three minutes later, nipping in to intercept Robbie Savage's poor pass before squaring for the waiting Becchio to score.
The home side nearly went ahead after 23 minutes, with captain Richard Naylor volleying against the bar, before falling behind again four minutes later.
Cywka had too much pace for Sam whose outstretched leg upended the winger, with Commons stroking home the resulting penalty.
Johnson should have equalised for a second time but headed Kilkenny's cross against the bar, while Derby could have made it three only for Green and Commons to both be superbly denied by Schmeichel.
Leeds started brightly after the interval, with Johnson's volley well saved by Stephen Bywater, before Schmeichel denied Green with a brave save with the midfielder just a couple of yards out.
Bywater recovered quickly to keep out a Kilkenny strike that had initially taken him by surprise shortly after the hour, before Schmeichel took centre stage again with a tremendous double save.
The Dane, a summer signing from Notts County, fell to his left to keep out Hulse's drive, before springing up to block Shaun Barker's point-blank follow-up effort.
Collins then had a header cleared off the line by Gareth Roberts as Leeds maintained their search for a leveller, but it was to no avail as the Rams claimed a deserved win.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 7th Aug
Bristol C0 - 3Millwall
Burnley1 - 0N Forest
Coventry2 - 0Portsmouth
C Palace3 - 2Leicester
Hull City2 - 0Swansea
M'boro1 - 3Ipswich
Preston0 - 2Doncaster
QPR4 - 0Barnsley
Reading1 - 2Scunthorpe
Leeds1 - 2Derby
Sky Bet Championship
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