Elland Road used to be almost impregnable to visiting Derby sides, even in the 1970s, when the Midlands club were twice First Division champions.
Between 1969 and 1980, only once did Derby go home with a win. That was 40 years ago this month, courtesy of Francis Lee’s goal.
Derby arrived yesterday having beaten Leeds 10 times out of 12, including four of the last five matches here. Moreover, they came as Championship leaders facing an opponent sitting two points above the relegation zone. Neil Redfearn’s team can thus feel pleased with themselves. Leeds were outstanding.
The goals came just before and just after half-time, both scored by Mirco Antenucci, the 30-year-old Italian striker signed in August during the chaos that followed the Massimo Cellino takeover. Redfearn is the third coach he has worked with but he has settled nicely; the goals were his sixth and seventh so far.
The first followed a mistake by Will Hughes. Alex Mowatt muscled him off the ball and crossed low into the penalty area, where Antenucci, unmarked, side-footed home from eight yards.
Derby gave him similar freedom to score his second, this time on the end of Stephen Warnock’s cross. Antenucci took a touch before tucking the ball home from 12 yards.
The frustrated Derby manager, Steve McClaren, made a triple substitution with 24 minutes left but to little effect. His side have yet to win a match as leaders.
Some things do not change. This was a feisty clash in the 70s, notably when Lee and Norman Hunter had their infamous 1975 punch-up at the Baseball Ground. There were no fights this time, but nine yellow cards showed there is still an edge.
Leeds Utd: (4-3-1-2) Silvestri; Byram, Bellusci, Cooper, Warnock; Bianchi (Austin, 68), Cook, Mowatt; Adryan (Tonge, 90); Antenucci, Doukara.
Derby County: (4-3-3) Grant; Christie, Keogh, Shotton, Forsyth; Hughes, Mascarell (Bryson, 66), Hendrick; Russell (Thomas, 66), Martin, Ibe (Dawkins, 66).
Referee: Mick Russell.
Man of the match: Antenucci (Leeds)
Match rating: 8/10Reuse content