Pre-season friendlies roundup: Leeds slip to defeat, Leicester play out 6-goal thriller & more

31 July 2021 09:15

Pre-season friendlies can often be over-analysed and scrutinised beyond recognition, and while they don't necessarily represent the whole truth, they should never be ignored.

Exhibition matches are always full of little gems, from players scoring screamers that'll soon be lost in the history of the sport, to unnecessarily feisty affairs between unsuspecting rivals.

With only a handful of weeks until we welcome the Premier League back into our lives, clubs up and down the country are beginning to put a bit more energy and attention into their pre-season preparations.

But how did they all get on in Saturday's stack of friendlies?

We start at the bet365 Stadium for the most feel-good story of the weekend. Wolverhampton Wanderers left the Potteries with a 1-1 draw on Saturday, but more importantly, Raul Jimenez left with his first goal since suffering a nasty head injury back in November 2020.

The Mexican tapped home on the rebound to cancel out Danny Batth's opener for Stoke City, and with neither side able to come up with a winner, the game ended all square.

Aston Villa put fears over Jack Grealish's future on hold on Saturday afternoon, hammering Bristol City 3-0 at Ashton Gate. Teenager Jaden Philogene-Bidace opened the scoring after only six minutes, and Ezri Konsa pounced on a defensive error to double the lead just before half-time.

Ollie Watkins wrapped up the victory for Villa on the hour-mark, and Bristol City simply couldn't respond against their superior opponents.

Brentford's preparations for life in the Premier League suffered a setback on Saturday, when they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to fellow top-flight outfit West Ham United. Said Benrahma proved the difference against his former side, cutting inside and curling a stunning strike into the top corner to score the game's only goal.

Elsewhere, Leicester City played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Queens Park Rangers, snatching a last-minute equaliser against the Championship side. Charlie Austin had given the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Yoann Barbet doubled the advantage 10 minutes after the break.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall pulled one back on 75 minutes, and new signing Patson Daka drew Leicester level after clinically finishing from inside the area. The drama didn't stop there, though. Rob Dickie restored QPR's lead with eight minutes to play, but a Kelechi Iheanacho penalty meant the friendly spoils were shared at Loftus Road.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace secured an impressive 3-1 victory over Reading, with Jean-Philippe Mateta giving the visitors the lead, after Cheikhou Kouyate had seen red on the half-hour mark. John Swift equalised for Reading, but late goals from Jordan Ayew and Scott Banks sent the Eagles soaring.

Brighton also ran out 3-1 winners over Luton Town, as the Seagulls began life without defender Ben White. Aaron Connolly handed Graham Potter's side the lead inside 10 minutes, and Enock Mwepu made it 2-0 on 35 minutes.

Harry Cornick gave Luton hope on the stroke of half-time, but Percy Tau restored the two-goal advantage on 62 minutes.

Leeds United fell to a 3-2 defeat to Real Betis, despite Patrick Bamford gifting them a dream start with a smart header on six minutes. Strikes from Aitor Ruibal, Borja Iglesias and Youssouf Sabaly sent Betis ahead and out of sight, although Mateusz Klich did pull one back with half an hour to play.

The game was played at a fast tempo, and tempers did flare, with Nabil Fekir dishing out a hefty kick to Pascal Struijk. Leeds couldn't find an equaliser however, and Betis saw out the win.

Southampton earned a convincing 3-1 victory over Swansea City, although they had to come from behind, after Mohammed Salisu scored an own goal on the quarter-hour mark. Nathan Tella equalised a minute later, and Nathan Redmond turned the game on its head nine minutes later.

Stuart Armstrong put the game beyond doubt Swansea on 58 minutes, and they saw out the game with comfort.

Finally, Burnley bagged two second half goals to overturn a deficit against Tranmere in a 2-1 victory, after Nathaniel Knight-Percival kicked off the scoring for the hosts. Ashley Barnes grabbed an equaliser with 20 minutes to play, and Dwight McNeil won the match with a strike from outside the area.


Brentford 0-1 West Ham

Bristol City 0-3 Aston Villa

Luton 1-3 Brighton

QPR 3-3 Leicester City

Reading 1-3 Crystal Palace

Real Betis 3-2 Leeds United

Stoke City 1-1 Wolves

Swansea 1-3 Southampton

Tranmere Rovers 1-2 Burnley

Source: 90min