Fans favourite Pontus Jansson came up with an 89th minute winner as Leeds United bounced back from their FA Cup humiliation with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
Garry Monk’s men looked to have to settle for a disappointing point against second from bottom opponents, but their success from corner kicks came to their rescue as centre-back Jansson headed home the late winner from Pablo Hernandez’s cross.
In a game that exploded into life in the last 20 minutes after being drab fare initially, Stuart Dallas had fired Leeds ahead only for Elliott Bennett to equalise with a long range strike with six minutes left.
The Leeds line-up showed a predictable 10 changes from the side that was knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Sutton on Sunday with only Dallas keeping his place.
It was back to the first choice back five with Eunan O’Kane and Liam Bridcutt restored in midfield, Chris Wood up front and one of the wide places going to the fit again Hadi Sacko.
There was a lack of first choice football from United, however, in the first half with little in the way of goalmouth action to enthuse the 6,402 travelling supporters.
Blackburn had the ball in the net in the fourth minute with Jason Lowe putting the ball over the line, but a clear foul on keeper Rob Green saw it ruled out.
Bridcutt hit Leeds’ first effort with a half-volley that went wide before Wood went closer with a free-kick from the edge of the box that sent the ball inches wide.
O’Kane went on a decent run into the area only for the ball to get stuck in his feet, allowing Blackburn to clear.
Kemar Roofe sent a header wide on 34 minutes from Luke Ayling’s cross and that was about it from an attacking point of view in a hugely disappointing first half.
Blackburn rarely threatened with their attacks well snuffed out by a United back line in which Pontus Jansson was commanding, aside from picking up a booking for a mistimed slide tackle on Lowe.
Head coach Garry Monk made a change at half-time with Pablo Hernandez on for the ineffective Sacko, the Spaniard taking over the number 10 role with Roofe switching to the right flank. But there was no immediate change in the pattern of play.
Blackburn did force a few set pieces, mostly dealt with by the towering Jansson, while a half-chance came the visitors’ way with Dallas heading wide under pressure from Hernandez’s cross to the far post.
Sam Gallagher hit a shot from long range well over as Rovers’ desperation grew.
Monk made a second substitution with Souleymane Doukara on for Roofe, but Leeds were pushed back when their opponents earned a free-kick wide out and Green was forced into his first real save of the night to tip Bennett’s dangerous cross wide.
It was somewhat out of the blue when with their first shot on target United took the lead on 74 minutes as Dallas provided a smart finish after getting on the end of a Bridcutt cross.
Blackburn searched for an equaliser and were denied when Jansson made a great block to cut out Gallagher’s dangerous cross. The Swedish defender then headed the corner away for good measure.
But the hosts did find the net on 84 minutes when Bennett beat Green with a shot from about 30 yards out that bounced to make it awkward for the Leeds stopper to keep out.
Joao then had a half-chance only to shoot over from inside the United box.
In an exciting finish that was in stark contrast to what had happened earlier it was Leeds’ turn to attack as they won a corner and from it Jansson capped his impressive display with a terrific header, sending the ball into the top corner of the net for the winning goal.
Hernandez saw an effort deflected just wide as the game went into injury-time, but it was all over soon after with Monk’s men getting a valuable three points in hard fought fashion.
Blackburn Rovers 1
Leeds United 2
(Dallas 74, Jansson 89)
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Blackburn: Steele, Nyambe, Greer, Lenihan, Williams, Feeney (Joao 79), Lowe (Conway 79), Mulgrew, Bennett, Gallagher, Graham.
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Bridcutt, O’Kane (Vieira 78), Sacko (Hernandez 45), Roofe (Doukara 61), Dallas, Wood.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.