Patrick Bamford’s late header earned Leeds United a hard-fought victory over Sheffield United, who are still searching for their first points of the season.
After both goalkeepers excelled, it looked as though a first Premier League derby between the two Yorkshire sides in 26 years was heading for a goalless draw.
But with two minutes remaining, Bamford rose at the back post to meet Jack Harrison’s cross and head in his third goal of the season to send Leeds’ players and staff wild.
It was just reward for a second half in which Leeds continued to ask questions of home keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Sheffield United, who have never previously failed to score in their opening three league fixtures, will regret John Lundstram’s first-half shot being superbly saved by Illan Meslier.
But a second win of the season for Leeds, and a clean sheet, having conceded seven goals in their opening two games, will be relished by their fans – especially against one of their fiercest rivals.
Meslier lays groundwork for Leeds victory
Leeds have enjoyed an entertaining start to the season, having scored and conceded seven goals in their opening two fixtures against Liverpool and Fulham.
The fact they pushed the champions close in a 4-3 loss at Anfield and held out to beat Fulham by the same scoreline suggests they will win many new fans this campaign.
But against Sheffield United they showed they could grind out a victory and were thankful to Frenchman Meslier, who excelled in goal.
In thwarting Lundstram from eight yards, he pulled off one of the saves of the season so far. He also denied George Baldock with another superb effort.
Led superbly by midfielder Kalvin Phillips – a timely performance, with England manager Gareth Southgate watching – Marcelo Bielsa’s side created plenty of chances themselves in a finely-balanced game.
But they could not find their way past Ramsdale, who denied Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas’ toe-poke in the first half before other efforts from Helder Costa and Bamford after the break.
When Dallas finally rounded Ramsdale from Ayling’s long through-ball, Chris Basham cleared his tame effort off the line.
But Leeds finally found a way through in the 88th minute as Bamford nodded in a downward header to clinch three points.
Blades paying for lack of punch up front
Wilder will feel like misfortune is becoming too common a companion for his side, who unexpectedly finished ninth last season after their return to the Premier League following a 12-year hiatus.
Having lost to Wolves in their opening game, they also lost John Egan to a contested red card in the defeat by Aston Villa – although Ethan Ampadu was an able deputy here – and Wilder said before kick-off that defenderJack O’Connell would need surgeryon an injured knee.
But for a team built on a solid defence, their big problem is the lack of goals, an issue that has been underlined this season.
They had the chances to score and having weathered an early Leeds onslaught, finished the first half on top.
Lundstram, who was a key scorer for the Blades in the first half of last season, should have beaten Meslier after David McGoldrick’s clever flick from Ben Osborn’s cross.
Five minutes before half-time the Leeds keeper showed his class again with a fine save from Baldock’s rising drive and Enda Stevens could not find a way through in the second half.
But it was a barren day for Blades front pair of Oli Burke and McGoldrick, who did not have a shot on target between them.
As they pressed for a winner, with substitute Billy Sharp aiming to score against his former team, they began to leave gaps at the back which Leeds exploited.
Defeat leaves Wilder’s team at the bottom of the table and their task is not set to get any easier with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all to come next month.
Blades’ worst run since 2013 – the stats
- Sheffield United have lost their opening three league matches of a season for only the third time, also doing so in 1966-67 and 1995-96.
- Sheffield United have lost their past six league matches, their worst run since September 2013 (also six in a row).
- Leeds have won 14 of their past 17 league matches, keeping clean sheets in 11 of those wins.
- Bamford is the first player in Leeds’ history to score in his first three top-flight appearances for the club.
- The Leeds striker became the first player since Mick Jones in the 1968-69 season to score in Leeds’ first three matches of a top-flight season.
- Bamford is only the third player to score on matchday one, two and three of a Premier League season for a newly promoted team.
Leeds welcome Manchester City to Elland Road on Saturday (17:30 BST), while Sheffield United travel to Arsenal on Sunday (12:00).
Player of the match
with an average of8.89
Squad number1Player nameRamsdale
Squad number22Player nameAmpadu
Squad number6Player nameBasham
Squad number2Player nameBaldock
Squad number8Player nameBerge
Squad number19Player nameRobinson
Squad number7Player nameLundstram
Squad number17Player nameMcGoldrick
Squad number14Player nameBurke
Squad number23Player nameOsborn
Squad number3Player nameStevens
Squad number10Player nameSharp
Squad number9Player nameMcBurnie
Squad number16Player nameNorwood
Squad number1Player nameMeslier
Squad number9Player nameBamford
Squad number22Player nameHarrison
Squad number5Player nameKoch
Squad number15Player nameDallas
Squad number6Player nameCooper
Squad number23Player namePhillips
Squad number2Player nameAyling
Squad number43Player nameKlich
Squad number20Player nameRodrigo
Squad number7Player namePoveda-Ocampo
Squad number17Player nameHélder Costa
Squad number10Player nameAlioski
Squad number11Player nameRoberts
- 2BaldockBooked at 67mins
- 7LundstramBooked at 58minsSubstituted forNorwoodat64′minutes
- 17McGoldrickSubstituted forMcBurnieat74′minutes
- 14BurkeSubstituted forSharpat74′minutes
- 23PhillipsBooked at 6mins
- 17Hélder CostaSubstituted forPoveda-Ocampoat66′minutes
- 11RobertsSubstituted forRodrigoat45′minutesSubstituted forAlioskiat90+1′minutes
Match ends, Sheffield United 0, Leeds United 1.
Second Half ends, Sheffield United 0, Leeds United 1.
Liam Cooper (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United).
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by George Baldock.
Substitution, Leeds United. Ezgjan Alioski replaces Rodrigo Moreno.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Ethan Ampadu.
Goal! Sheffield United 0, Leeds United 1. Patrick Bamford (Leeds United) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Harrison with a cross.
Attempt saved. Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aaron Ramsdale.
Attempt saved. Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jack Harrison.
Illan Meslier (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by George Baldock (Sheffield United).
Attempt missed. Jack Robinson (Sheffield United) right footed shot from very close range is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Ben Osborn with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Kalvin Phillips.
Attempt blocked. George Baldock (Sheffield United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sander Berge.
Offside, Leeds United. Robin Koch tries a through ball, but Patrick Bamford is caught offside.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Aaron Ramsdale.
Attempt saved. Ian Poveda-Ocampo (Leeds United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Patrick Bamford.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Luke Ayling.
Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.