Spending their first season in the second tier of the English Football League pyramid after a four year absence, new Leeds United and Championship title-winning connoisseur, Daniel Farke, named a strong XI with Luis Sinisterra, Daniel James, Crysencio Summerville and Wilfried Gnonto making up a formidable front-four for the hosts.
On the losing side only once across their previous seven head-to-head encounters across all competitions, Cardiff City’s new man in the dugout, Erol Bulut, named five new faces in his first competitive Bluebirds’ line-up with most notably Aaron Ramsey returning to his boyhood club for his first appearance since February 2011.
LEE: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Struijk, Hjelde; Gray, Ampadu; Summerville, Sinisterra, James; Gnonto
CAR: Alnwick, Ng, McGuinness, Goutas; O’Dowda; Ralls, Wintle, Bowler; Ramsey, Grant, Ugbo
Emerging victorious in a hat-trick of opening matches to start a new Championship season – hitting the back of the net on at least three occasions – Leeds began authoritatively in front of a bumper crowd back at Elland Road as Wilfried Gnonto fired a spectacular volley inches wide of the top right-hand corner. Nonetheless, it was Cardiff City who took the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute, as one of their new arrivals in South Wales, Josh Bowler, expertly slotted past an unsighted Illan Meslier at the second time of asking. However, the Bluebirds’ celebrations were muted eight minutes later as captain Joe Ralls had to be replaced by Ebou Adams after failing to run off an earlier blow suffered to his left hip.
With half-time on the horizon, even without the experience and influence of their skipper, Cardiff brought an eerie silence around Elland Road by extending their advantage further as Ike Ugbo bundled the ball over the line from just underneath the crossbar after Aaron Ramsey’s dangerous pass across the six-yard area conventionally fell at the feet of the Troyes’ loanee.
Needing an immediate response to salvage anything from the contest, Leeds struck in the opening four minutes of the second half as Liam Cooper majestically rose above Dimitrios Goutas to head Crysencio Summerville’s corner past Jak Alnwick. However, that would be the Peacocks commander’s last involvement in the contest, after being forced to exit the pitch on a stretcher after appearing to injure his ankle when jumping to meet the Dutch playmaker’s inswinging delivery. Determined to get back on level terms, Leeds continued to bombard the Cardiff box, with 22 touches compared to the Bluebird’s one, as only a sublime one-handed stop from Alnwick prevented Daniel James’ effort from nestling into the far corner.
However, there was to be one final twist with time running out, as Summerville broke Cardiff’s hearts deep into stoppage time with an instinctively-struck finish that flew past the beleaguered figure of Alnwick into the bottom corner.
An entertaining share of the spoils completes Leeds United’s stunning second-half comeback at Elland Road, as Daniel Farke’s newly-inherited side will turn their attention to the EFL Cup on Wednesday when they welcome League One outfit Shrewsbury Town. Meanwhile, Cardiff City will also be in cup action against Colchester City, hoping to bounce back after overseeing a frustrating conclusion to their footballing expedition to West Yorkshire.