Thomas Christiansen said Kemar Roofe had shown his ability as an out-and-out striker after the forward’s hat-trick fired Leeds United into round three of the Carabao Cup.
Roofe scored three times either side of half-time to see off a spirited Newport County side and earn Leeds a place in tomorrow morning’s draw after a 5-1 win at Elland Road.
The former Oxford United player, who scored 26 times on his way to the League Two player of the year award in 2016, has rarely featured up front for United but his performance guided a weakened side through an eventful second-round tie.
Roofe, who struck on 45 and 50 minutes, sealed his hat-trick with a deft overhead kick after the hour before Samuel Saiz – the scorer of a hat-trick in a first-round victory over Port Vale – and Ronaldo Vieira rounded off the result.
Christiansen said: “They were nice goals but more than nice, they were important for the team.
“We know the quality of Roofe and that he can play up front. He has done that before. We knew what he could give and in his first appearance as a striker (under Christiansen), to score three goals is very good.
“I’m very satisfied with the result. We changed it from 1-0 to 5-1 and I’m pleased with that. We reached our goal which was to pass through to the next round.”
Leeds fell behind to a first-half goal from Newport midfielder Joss Labadie and their defence were troubled throughout by a pacey County team.
Roofe’s first finish on the stroke of half-time, however, turned the tie United’s way and Leeds’ quality told in the second half.
“We didn’t do things right in the first half and that’s where I’m a little disappointed,” said Christiansen.
“The response in the second half was good. We deserved the win.
“Drawing at half-time meant it was easier in the second half but my speech (in the dressing room) was clear because we didn’t do what I wanted the team to do. In the second half we improved.”
United’s head coach gave full debuts to Under-23 players Eoghan Stokes and Madger Gomes but left out Souleymane Doukara with the striker close to the exit door.
Doukara has attracted interest from Italian, Turkish and English clubs, including Barnsley, and Christiansen confirmed that the Frenchman would be moving on, saying he had left Doukara out of the Newport tie after “we reached an agreement”.