Blackburn Rovers 1 Leeds United 1 - Pascal Struijk strike earns Whites Ewood Park draw

Leeds United's pre-season kicked off with a 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 9:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 9:48 pm
Leeds United's Rodrigo in action at Ewood Park. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Marcelo Bielsa unleashed the big guns at Ewood Park as Junior Firpo was handed a Whites debut in Lancashire.

Club captain Liam Cooper, striker Patrick Bamford and England's Kalvin Phillips were all absent in an otherwise strong senior line-up following the Under-23s outing at Guiseley on Tuesday.

United started on the front foot in a game that otherwise ebbed and flowed throughout the opening 45 minutes.

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Raphinha provided the first spark as he cut a ball back to Rodrigo inside the area with the Spaniard forcing a good save from goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

Rovers almost opened the scoring themselves as a Ryan Nyambe ball found Adam Armstrong in on goal but Diego Llorente came to the rescue with a perfectly-timed tackle.

Llorente enjoyed a strong first half along with Jamie Shackleton - who was featuring at right-back - but in true friendly fashion both sides failed to muster a decisive effort.

Luke Ayling stepped off the bench at the break to replace United's number 14 at the back.

Raphinha - who always looked a threat throughout - tested the palms of Kaminski once again before Robin Koch saw a follow up effort blocked.

Pascal Struijk then jumped highest from a corner to force another save from the hosts stopper.

Stuart Dallas, Tyler Roberts and Sam Greenwood were all introduced along with four Blackburn substitutes in what turned into a somewhat frantic second period.

Ben Brereton - or Diaz, as the locals know him - gave Rovers some impetus going forward and he forced Illan Meslier into his first real save of the night with 20 minutes to go.

Three minutes later and Tony Mowbray's side had the lead through substitute Connor McBride.

The striker had barely stripped off before he saw a free-kick deflected into the far corner of the net with Meslier left no chance.

United, though, responded with 10 minutes remaining as pressure finally told in the second half.

Dallas resisted calls to shoot from the away end and found a pass for Struijk who coolly side-footed home into the bottom corner of the net.

Leeds went in search of a winner as Roberts acrobatically attempted and overhead kick but Bielsa's side were forced to settle for a battling draw to open up their pre-season account.

Blackburn Rovers: Kaminski, Nyambe (Pike 69), Pickering (Cirino 69), Magloire, Davenport, Armstrong (Vale 69), Garrett, Buckley (McBride 69), Carter, Lenihan, Dolan (Brereton 45). Subs not used: Eastham, Stergiakis, Annesley, Nolan, Butterworth.

Leeds United: Meslier, Firpo (Dallas 62), Koch, Raphinha (Roberts 62), Llorente (Ayling 45), Costa, Rodrigo (Greenwood 62), Struijk, Harrison, Klich, Shackleton. Subs not used: Van Den Heuvel.

Referee: Darren Bond