Roofe header sends Leeds on way back to the top of the table
Leeds showed their promotion credentials to return to the top of the Championship table with victory over Town at Elland Road.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side opened the scoring midway through the first-half with a header from Kemar Roofe and doubled their advantage when skipper Liam Cooper finished in style on 66 minutes.
Matt Pennington went close for Town with a header in the first-half, Jon Nolan forcing a save from Bailey Peacock-Farrell late on but the home side never looked like letting slip their hold on the game and that top of the table spot.
Bart Bialkowski was one of seven changes from the Town side that went down to QPR at the weekend, with Tayo Edun and Jordan Spence also recalled to the starting line-up. Kayden Jackson linked up with Freddie Sears in attack.
Sears almost capitalised in a misplaced pass at the back for Leeds but Kalvin Phillips cleared inside the few minutes.
Nolan picked up an early yellow card for a foul on Samuel Saiz, Bialkowski then diverting a wicked cross from Jack Harrison to safety, just. At the other end
Pennington saw his header saved by Peacock-Farrell from Edun’s free-kick.
Jackson’s cross was inches away from Sears with Peacock-Farrell beaten, Nolan dragging a left footer wide as Town carried a threat going forward but it was Leeds who broke the deadlock on 22 minutes, Pablo Hernandez’s cross headed home from point blank range by Roofe.
Leeds were forced into change with Gaetano Berardi replaced by Stuart Dallas before the half hour, the ever dangerous Hernandez then picking out Saiz in the box but Pennington blocked the shot.
Flynn Downes was added to referee Craig Pawson’s card count for a foul, Roofe had a shot deflected over, then a Saiz delivery from a corner fizzed across goal to safety.
Mateusz Klich was pulling the strings in midfield for the home side and another long pass almost released Roofe down the left as Leeds took their lead into the break.
Edun’s surging run won a free-kick as the second-half got underway, Luke Chambers claiming he was pulled down as he attacked the ball at the far post but referee Pawson didn’t give it a glance.
Jonas Knudsen was booked for a foul on Hernandez, Pennington in the right place to clear from Harrison’s cross, Chambers taking the ball off Roofe’s head when a second goal beckoned as the Whites pressed forward.
Dallas couldn’t find the target from Ezgjan Alioski’s cross before Leeds made a double change with Saiz and Harrison making way for Adam Forshaw and Tom Pearce.
Pennington threw himself in the way of Dallas’s strike to deflect it wide before Edun was replaced by Grant Ward in Town’s first change just past the hour.
Bialkowski palmed away Hernandez’s strike but from the corner, Cooper was given too much space and made it count with an excellent sidefoot finish into the roof of the net to double the home side’s advantage.
Pennington, not for the first time, spotted the danger to stop Roofe getting in, then Alioski smashed a left footer against the inside of the post that looked every inch a goal.
Gwion Edwards replaced Sears for the closing stages, Bialkowski denying Forshaw at full length, then standing strong to beat out Alioski’s fierce effort as Leeds threatened at every turn.
Roofe was just wide from Alioski’s volley, while at the other end Nolan forced Peacock-Farrell into a save as Blues looked for a lifeline. It didn’t come.
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Roofe, Alioski, Saiz (Forshaw 57), Hernandez, Harrison (Pearce 58), Phillips, Berardi (Dallas 26), Klich. Subs not used: Blackman, Roberts, Baker, Clarke. Booked: Berardi.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers, Pennington, Knudsen, Skuse (Chalobah 85) , Nolan, Downes, Edun (Ward 61), Jackson, Sears (Edwards 75). Subs not used: Gerken, Donacien, Dozzell, Lankester. Booked: Nolan, Downes, Knudsen.