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Championship Focus: Week 6

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Vydra firing for Derby, Leeds’ debutant impresses and Cardiff drop their first points of the season.

Derby County v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Clinical Derby demolish Hull

A brace from ex-Royal Matej Vydra helped Derby romp to a 5-0 victory against a vulnerable Hull side on Friday night. The result lifted Derby up to seventh in the Championship table and sent a reminder to the rest of the league that they are viable promotion candidates.

Vydra opened the scoring on fifteen minutes, his powerful free-kick fizzing past McGregor in the Hull goal. The Czech striker later doubled the advantage, but only after Sebastian Larsson had blazed a penalty high over the bar for the visitors. The goal was a fantastic team move. New signing Tom Lawrence combined with Bradley Johnson, David Nugent, and finally Vydra, who finished with aplomb – something that couldn’t be said often enough during his time at the Madejski…

Derby’s recruitment of ex-Hull duo Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone has gone largely under the radar this summer, and adds bags of experience to their side. Facing his former employer, Davies made it 3-0, rising above his man to head home. Before half-time, the hosts added a fourth through Bradley Johnson and the midfielder completed the rout in the second half with a low drive. Hapless Hull were well beaten.

Gary Rowett, a highly-respected manager at this level, will have been delighted with his team’s display. Derby look on paper, and now on grass, like promotion contenders, and after years of near misses, many fans at Pride Park will feel that this could be their year for a long-overdue return to the top-flight.

Lasogga an instant hit for five-star Leeds

Nottingham Forest v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Leeds are flying, and they may just have found the goal-scorer to lead their promotion charge. Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored twice on his debut in United’s 5-0 thrashing of Burton Albion, quashing any lingering worries that the club may not have aptly replaced Chris Wood.

The striker, on loan from German side Hamburg, has a history of scoring goals in the Bundesliga, but after a baron spell last year, has arrived at Elland Road to revive his form. Standing at over 6 foot 2 inches tall, Lasogga is a strong physical presence in Leeds’ new attack, and his work-rate and ability to hold the ball up have already sparked comparisons with Mark Viduka.

In truth, Lasogga could have had several more on Saturday but for a string of vital blocks and saves. He opened his account in English football after twenty minutes, finishing on-the-run past Stephen Bywater. Kalvin Phillips and Pablo Hernandez scored the second and third, before Kemar Roofe bagged the goal of the game, running the ball from deep before whipping a long-range effort into the net for 4-0. The debutant German striker capped off the scoring on the hour-mark, before leaving the field to a standing ovation.

Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen told the BBC:

"He [Lasogga] is a very good striker and he proved that today in his first appearance. He started the game after only a few days with the team and his performance and two goals will help him a lot to get that confidence."

Christiansen’s debut season has been impressive so far. His side remain unbeaten and climb to second.

Meanwhile…

Fulham v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

Cardiff City no longer have an 100% winning record in the Championship, but they did salvage a point at Fulham. Danny Ward came off the bench and scored in the 83rd minute to earn a 1-1 draw.

Parky’s Bolton remain bottom of the league after they lost 3-0 to a fancied Boro side, and Brentford also remain in the drop-zone after back-to-back stalemates - this time away at Villa. Sheffield United’s new signing Clayton Donaldson scored twice, the Blades taking all three points from Sunderland, and their city rivals Wednesday registered their first win of the season, 3-1 over Nottingham Forest.

All three of Birmingham’s ex-Bees started at Norwich on Saturday, but the home-side won 1-0. Unsurprisingly, Nelson Oliveira scored the Canaries’ winner. Jamie Mackie netted again for QPR in a 2-1 win over Ipswich, consolidating the West London side’s promising start to the season. Wolves returned to winning ways with a 1-0 home win over Neil Harris’ Millwall and Preston shared the spoils with Barnsley in a 1-1 draw at Deepdale, the Tykes ending a run of five successive away defeats.

Coming up next week:

Reading must wait until next Saturday to bounce back from this weekend’s defeat, following the postponement of their midweek game against Barnsley. The Royals will take good numbers to Brentford, a side whose league position belittles their attacking threat. Midweek, it’s worth keeping an eye on Boro’s trip to Villa and there’s a London derby, as QPR take on Millwall. Then on Saturday, there is plenty riding on Hull vs Sunderland. Both teams are under scrutiny having failed to adjust quickly to life in the second-tier.