Leeds United are through into the next round of the EFL Cup after beating Barnsley 3-1 at Elland Road.
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch has experienced his first taste of cup football in England as his side took on local rivals Barnsley in the League Cup last night.
A draw against League One opposition, Marsch had the chance to hand starts to those who needed minutes for fitness or development, while still boasting a side with senior and youth internationals across the board.
A 3-1 win might have played out differently if Barnsley had completed their first-half comeback from the penalty spot, but Leeds’ quality shone through after that scare, retaking their two-goal lead after half time and seeing the game out.
Here, we look at three things we learnt from Leeds United 3-1 Barnsley in the EFL Cup…
Sinisterra could be electric
Where else to start than the man who set Leeds on the way to progression to the next round?
A bright start from Barnsley made the game a lot more scrappy than Leeds and Marsch will have wanted, crying out for a bit more quality from the home side, which came as the initial burst of energy from the visiting side dissipated.
Sinisterra picked up the ball 30 yards from goal to dance past his marker, before letting a quick shot go from outside the box, curling past Jack Walton and into the goal:
He wasn’t done there. Leeds then looked to go for the kill in this tie and Sinisterra’s pace and directness saw him get to the by-line before being brought down for a penalty, which Mateusz Klich converted.
It was almost a case of the fans pleading for him to get on the ball with every attack, because he was clearly far too good for his opposition, breezing by with ease.
This was shown in Leeds’ third goal, as he stood up Hungary international Callum Styles before pacing past him and firing a cross into the six-yard box, which was cleared out to Klich for his second.
Sinisterra will have far more difficult opponents to face this season in the Premier League, but as he builds up fitness, he showed all the signs of being a very astute signing for Marsch, with pace, trickery and real conviction in the final third.
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Klich’s huge value
If the Wolves game at the start of the season didn’t already prove it, last night showed that Mateusz Klich has a lot to offer Leeds as a number 10.
This newfound attacking role for the 32-year-old is bringing the best out of him in the final third, getting into the positions we saw from him in 2018/19 where his goalscoring form went through the roof.
Finding space against third-tier sides is something he won’t have much trouble with, but when Leeds were in danger of losing control of the match either side of the interval, an element of class and composure was required, which Klich provided.
Beyond just the goals he scored, it was his ball retention in dangerous areas that allowed Leeds to keep Barnsley in their own half.
In a game where plenty of youngsters will have needed someone to lead by example in an attacking sense, Klich showed just why he is still going to be a crucial part of this squad going forward.
Youth players looking the part
As much as younger players could look somewhat lost in games like these, this wasn’t the case last night.
At the back, Cody Drameh and Leo Hjelde looked totally comfortable throughout the match, with the latter taking his chance to impress under Marsch after his Cardiff City loan spell in 21/22.
Hjelde looked like a carbon copy of Pascal Struijk, in that he was a centre-back playing on the left at first, before looking right at home when he moved central in the second half.
That said, he was never out of place in either position and looked very solid alongside Robin Koch, with some very slick build-up including a one-two in the 55th minute getting Leeds from the edge of their own box to one pass away from slipping Gelhardt through.
Beyond the defence, the biggest compliment you could give Sam Greenwood is that even as a striker that we know him as, he never looked like he wasn’t a central midfielder, as he played as part of the double pivot. The move out wide was essentially the end of his game as he never got chance to impress there.
One of the stars, though, was Crysencio Summerville. After a first period of aggression from the visiting side, they were forced to back off the Dutch winger as he showcased his pace and quick feet to get Leeds into really dangerous spaces.
He didn’t manage a goal or assist on the night, but his constant threat would have been well worth a goal at the end of it, which he did look like getting.
As Leeds’ quality began to shine through, these young players began to impose themselves more and more, while also showing that the senior game is not beyond them at this point.