Mateo Joseph scores four as Leeds United U21s go top in new head coach's first game

Leeds United Under-21s put on a five star display at Derby County’s Pride Park on Friday evening defeating the hosts 5-2

Leeds’ Under-21s kickstarted their 2022/23 campaign with a resounding victory over Derby County on the eve of the first-team’s Premier League opener.

Spanish forward Mateo Joseph scored four times as the Whites raced into a three-goal lead during the first 28 minutes.

Daniel James featured from the start in a bid to retain match sharpness due to the fact he will miss the senior squad’s opening fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers through suspension.

Mateo Joseph scored four for Leeds United Under-21s in their season opener at Derby (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

The Welshman picked up an assist for the Whites’ go-ahead goal, sliding through Joseph after escaping pressure in the middle, which the 18-year-old dispatched of confidently.

Shortly after, Jeremiah Mullen’s effort was parried by Derby goalkeeper Harry Evans which saw the ball pop up kindly for Joseph to nod in his second of the game from close range.

Before long, the No. 9 was on the scoresheet for a third time, slotting a penalty kick past the helpless Rams stopper after Archie Gray had been fouled inside the area.

Leeds did relinquish their commanding grip on the game shortly after the restart, conceding twice in quick succession, which had shades of the first-team’s wobble versus Cagliari last weekend.

Osazee Aghatise scored both for the hosts, although there was a hint of an own goal from Kris Moore as the Rams swept home their first of the evening.

Aghatise converted a direct free-kick minutes later to give Derby a fighting chance at salvaging something from the match, but their hopes were dampened when debutant Sonny Perkins swivelled inside the six-yard box to restore a two-goal advantage for Leeds.

The ex-West Ham United forward looked comfortable on his first outing under new head coach Michael Skubala, whom he and fellow new addition Darko Gyabi have worked with previously at Under-18 level with England.

Perkins might have found himself on the scoresheet once more if not for Joseph’s superior instinct at the back post.

The Spaniard nodded in a fifth for Leeds and his fourth of the night after Sean McGurk’s whipped free-kick was headed back across goal by Kris Moore.

Skubala was pleased with his team’s efforts at full time, praising four-goal teenager Mateo Joseph in particular.

"What an athlete Mateo is and what a kid he is, first of all, what a human being he is. He works so hard.

"If I'm watching as a fan, I'm thinking wow, you know, I want him in the team,” he said.

Leeds were aggressive from the off and pressed from the front, pinning Derby into tight spaces inside their own half which led to several turnovers in possession.

The Whites’ five goals catapults them to the top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 standings after one match – a near-perfect start for Skubala and his staff.