Leeds United progressed into the fourth round of the EFL Cup after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Tuesday.
It was a tense game from the get-go with major goal-scoring chances for both sides. The hosts made a bright start and sought to make an impression when Rodrigo Muniz had a couple of good early chances, a header that went just wide and a drive that goalkeeper Illan Meslier batted away.
However, it was the visitors who could have gone up ahead when Tyler Roberts had a powerful shot saved only for the rebound to fall kindly for Rodrigo, but he miscued his effort. Leeds then dominated the proceedings as Fulham failed to break out of their half, mostly relying on counters and set-pieces to find creativity.
Both teams fought tooth and nail in the opening 45 minutes, but neither could break the deadlock. The second half lacked the intensity of the first; both sides tried hard but struggled to be decisive in the attacking third of the pitch as the teams falling short of quality in offensive areas.
Rodrigo and Muniz had notable goal-scoring chances, but both were not clinical enough in front of goal. The game headed into penalties after the contest ended 0-0 at full-time. Both teams were at 3-3 following five penalty kicks each after which the game went to sudden death, with neither team allowed to make any mistake until Muniz’s feeble effort was saved by Meslier, which saw Leeds advance.
The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Marcelo Bielsa’s men after a narrow victory over Fulham.
Illan Meslier: 8/10
Illan Meslier vs. Fulham:
38/46 successful passes
7 saves 🔥
4 diving saves 🧤
1 penalty shootout save 💪
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) September 21, 2021
Made a couple of great saves to keep the scoresheet hanging at nil-nil. His distribution wasn’t entirely perfect, but he displayed his shot-stopping ability in the spot-kicks and ultimately made the decisive save to get Leeds through to the next round.
Stuart Dallas: 6.5/10
Dallas was once again not at his best, but kept a strong defensive shape within his own half and created several good scoring chances. Suffered in both the halves and received a few knocks following a collision in the first half and being struck on the head in the second. He will be frustrated after missing his penalty in the shootout.
Charlie Cresswell: 8/10
Cresswell was solid at the back, winning numerous aerial duels and doing enough defensive work to keep the clean sheet intact. The centre-back put up an excellent performance, effortlessly integrating into the Leeds backline.
Was unafraid to get rough with Fulham’s strikers and equally at ease playing long balls over the top. He never seemed troubled on his senior debut after being thrown into the deep end due to Leeds’ injury-plagued defence.
Charlie Cresswell vs. Fulham:
121 touches (🥇- most)
87/104 successful passes (🥇- most)
12 duels won (🥇- most)
11 aerial duels won (🥇- most) 🔥
4 successful long passes
3 ball recoveries
2 blocked shots
1/1 succ. take-on
Outstanding. 💪 pic.twitter.com/vBbslIabKB
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) September 21, 2021
Kalvin Phillips: 7/10
The England international delivered a composed display in the midfield while clearing the lines while filling in as makeshift centre-back. He also scored a high-pressure penalty to compliment his performance.
Junior Firpo: 7/10
An improved display following Friday night’s poor showing at Newcastle United, and he will only get better with time. Still a little awkward in a few tackles and passes while he took up some really advanced positions in the final third. Most importantly, the Spaniard brilliantly converted his penalty in the shootout.
Jamie Shackleton: 7/10
He laboured tirelessly to shield the defence. Shackleton did distribute the ball effectively and was powerful in the air, looking comfortable in the Leeds engine room. As much as he could, he moved around and provided a passing option for teammates. The half-turns looked clean and precise and he looked even better when he switched to the right-back role.
Mateusz Klich: 6/10
Klich failed to establish himself in the game and was substituted in the 68th minute but kept ticking under the radar by getting around the pitch.
Crysencio Summerville: 6.5/10
The 19-year-old winger made a promising full debut for the Whites. He grew into the contest, drawing reckless fouls from Joe Bryan but never got the room or opportunity to get off a shot, yet he dribbled well and contributed to several Leeds attacks. Summerville also drew attention at times with his speed and inventiveness.
Rodrigo lacked confidence in the first half, squandering a couple of excellent goal-scoring chances. However, he improved after the break and showed desperation to get on the scoresheet. Regardless of how difficult the previous few weeks were, he never shied away from taking risks. The Spaniard was always eager to take a shot at a goal, but he failed to capitalise on any of his opportunities.
Daniel James: 6.5/10
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 21, 2021
A much sharper performance than the one on Friday night, and a true exhibition of the Welsh international’s blazing speed which caused all sorts of problem for Fulham. The only disappointment for the ex-Manchester United winger is that he could not release a single shot throughout the 90 minutes. He will continue to improve his end-product with time under Bielsa.
Tyler Roberts: 6/10
Roberts pushed to probe the Fulham defence and got a couple of good shots on goal. But it never seemed like he was going to score. Hooked off early in the second half.
Adam Forshaw: 6/10
Forshaw came on for Tyler Roberts in the 54th minute, increased vigour and energy in the midfield but lately missed his penalty in the shootout.
Joe Gelhardt: 6.5/10
Gelhardt came on for Klich on the 68th minute but never got into the game, although he displayed strong nerves by stepping up to score his penalty.
Stuart McKinstry: 6.5/10
It was the second debut for the youngster from the bench but he could not make a major impact. Yet he scored the penalty calmly into the bottom corner.