Leeds see off weakened Southampton
Southampton were unable to find sanctuary from their Barclays Premier League woes in the Capital One Cup, with manager Nigel Adkins' decision to make 11 changes backfiring on him as Leeds secured another top-flight scalp with a 3-0 win.
The Saints have found life tough since leaving the likes of Leeds behind in the npower Championship in the summer, accruing just four points from a possible 27, and even the bounty of a quarter-final berth could not chivvy them up as goals from Michael Tonge and El-Hadji Diouf, as well as Luciano Becchio's penalty, saw the home side through.
It is not unusual for managers to make changes in this competition - Leeds boss Neil Warnock made four himself - but in view of Southampton's recent struggles, Adkins' choice to rest the entire starting line-up from Sunday's loss to Tottenham, as well as naming an inexperienced bench, looked somewhat strange.
The tinkering was reflected in Southampton's performance too, with the Saints taking until the 70th minute to register a shot at goal. With such an array of changes made, Southampton were unlikely to start the better of the two and so it proved, with Leeds and in particular rookie full-back Sam Byram making the early running.
It took until the 15th minute for the home side to fashion a chance of note, though, and when they did, it resulted in what will surely be considered as one of the worst misses in recent memory. Aidy White stood up a perfect back-post cross to Diouf and, when he sidefooted across the goalmouth with keeper Kelvin Davis stranded, all Luke Varney had to do was score from a yard, but the former Portsmouth man inexplicably hit wide with Diouf unable to ram home the loose ball.
Whether it was owing to unfamiliarity or not, Southampton were well off the pace and their goal continued to lead a charmed life when Rodolph Austin put a free header wide but, in the 35th minute, Leeds got what they deserved when Tonge opened the scoring.
Again Varney was involved, this time with a strong run down the left. His cross was hacked away by Jos Hooiveld but Tonge was lurking and from 16 yards slammed a drive through a crowded box for his third goal of the season.
After the break Saints came out in a similarly lethargic manner and, as has been the case in the league, their defending left a lot to be desired. Had Diouf and then Tonge found their range better after Varney was twice brought down on the edge of the box, they could have been cut adrift.
Although things started to pick up for Adkins' men, with three minutes left Diouf wrapped things up. The goal owed everything to Austin, whose 50-yard run may have included some good fortune, but when his low shot was parried by Davis, Diouf had the easiest of finishes from two yards.
After that there was still time for Leeds to get another in injury time, with Becchio, on as a sub, scoring with his first touch from the spot after Dan Seaborne pulled Tonge down in the box.