Helder Costa may have struggled to silence all of his doubters during his loan spell at Leeds United, but there is no question that the attacker produced a performance of the highest quality in his first appearance following the completion of his permanent move to Elland Road on Thursday evening.
Leeds would have been forgiven for feeling the pressure ahead of their clash with Stoke City. With Brentford and West Brom winning earlier in the week, Marcelo Bielsa’s side had dropped to second and were only three points clear of the Bees.
After a somewhat nervy start, Leeds started to grow into the game against the Potters. They did however, squander some glorious chances, with Mateusz Klich, Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts all having efforts blocked.
Their luck changed shortly before the break with Costa being brought down inside the box. It was a needless challenge from Tommy Smith. But Leeds took full advantage with Klich putting the Whites ahead.
And once back out after the break, they did not need to wait too long for a second. A brilliant ball from Stuart Dallas found Costa in the box, and the Portuguese managed to poke home from close range.
Leeds went 3-0 in front thanks to a smart finish from Liam Cooper. And it was Costa who provided the assist for the Whites’ fourth, with Pablo Hernandez finding the bottom corner from outside the box.
Bamford made it five with a superb finish in stoppage time.
‘Costa’s best game for Leeds’
After a tough start, a number of players stepped up for Bielsa’s side. But perhaps the most pleasant surprise came from Costa.
It was not easy for the Leeds attackers early on with Stoke looking compact. But Costa caused plenty of problems, and deserved to be the man to win the penalty.
He received further rewards as he scored the Whites’ second goal. And he has, unsurprisingly, received a host of plaudits from the fans.
Plenty suggested that it was his best performance for Bielsa’s side. And while he has been criticised at times, there is no question that if he can produce a few more performances of a similar standard over the next fortnight, Leeds fans will have no doubt that Costa has repaid his transfer fee.
Here is what some of the fans made of Costa’s display…
This is the Helder Costa everyone was expecting when he joined #lufc, running at defences and delivering with an end product.
What a way to respond to mixed reviews of signing permanently? pic.twitter.com/jPauHSetYW
— Kristian Smith (@KrisSmith98) July 9, 2020
Costa motm think them signing him up was a master stroke at this time #LUFC
— SG lufc (@FodenSG) July 9, 2020
Its like the 15m unlocked the real Costa. Looked unplayable tonight #lufc
— Matt (@MWJS82) July 9, 2020
@LUFC can we sign Costa every week, he’s having a blinder
— Ed Robinson (@EdLeeds1776) July 9, 2020
— Paul Bromley ?☠️?? (@bromleyecon) July 9, 2020
— Ed Hamilton (@botakbill) July 9, 2020
Fair play to Costa. Not many would’ve dropped Alioski but he’s won a penalty, got a goal, got an assist. That permanent switch has done him wonders #lufc
— MOTweets (@MOTweets1919) July 9, 2020
Costa today has been the Costa we thought we’d signed. Hopefully keeps it up #lufc
— D. F. (@DomLeeds1919) July 9, 2020
Costa’s best game in a Leeds shirt today #lufc
— Simon (@analytic_footy) July 9, 2020
Costas best game for Leeds so far
— Daniel Winter ©™ (@Dan_LUFC_Winter) July 9, 2020