LUCIANO Becchio headed Leeds United off to a winning start to the new season in the Npower Championship as they beat Wolves 1-0 at Elland Road.
Becchio's 17th minute diving header proved the only goal of a competitive game, but the Whites did enough to earn their first three points with a hard working display all round the pitch.
A clean sheet delighted manager Neil Warnock with goalkeeper Paddy Kenny protected so well that he did not have a serious save to make throughout.
Leeds were fast out of the blocks and could have had a penalty in the fifth minute as Becchio was hauled down off the ball. Referee Tony Bates missed the incident and as play went on the ball fell to Luke Varney who could only scoop his shot wide.
Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme was called into his first save on eight minutes, getting down well to keep out Rodolph Austin's header from a Ross McCormack corner. In the scramble that followed two more efforts were blocked and 18-year-old full-back Sam Byram shot wide.
Roger Johnson saw a header blocked on the line as Wolves looked to hit back, but the action soon switched to the other end as Ikeme denied Ross McCormack from close range after Paul Green and Becchio had set up the chance in the box.
It was no surprise when United's sizzling start brought them a goal as Kenny found McCormack with a great pass out to the left wing and his cross was met at the far post by Becchio, whose diving header sent the ball into the corner of the net.
Wolves saw plenty of the ball for the rest of the half, but were unable to create much as the Leeds players tackled as if their lives depended on it and produced a high energy pressure game.
Leeds did suffer one blow when they lost the hard working Green to injury to be replaced by El Hadji Diouf and it was a tougher game in the second half.
But it was still the Whites who created the better chances initially as McCormack hit one effort over from the edge of the box and Luke Varney lost control of the ball after going clean through, enabling Ikeme to race out of goal to save.
Varney had a volley deflected over and Austin saw another header from a corner saved before Wolves substitute Peszko volleyed wide under pressure.
Matt Jarvis, Bjorn Sigurdarson and Kevin Doyle all hit half-chances wide as Leeds were forced to defend deep in the closing 15 minutes plus five minutes injury-time. United deservedly held on and could have added to their lead three minutes from time when youngster Byram was only just wide with a shot from just outside the box.
Leeds United 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Pearce, White, Green (Diouf 44), Austin, Norris, Varney, McCormack (Lees 75), Becchio.
Wolves: Ikeme, Zubar, Steadman (Edwards 82), Johnson, Ward, Forde (Peszko 45), Henry, Doumbia, Jarvis, Ebanks-Blake (Sigurdarson 69), Doyle.
Referee: Tony Bates.