Leeds United’s horror run continued against Cardiff City as they had yet another player sent-off and conceded four goals for the second home game in a row.
The Whites were forced to play the whole of the second half with a man down once again with Gaetano Berardi this time red carded for two bookable offence in the eyes of referee Graham Scott, who recently made headlines with his poor handling of a recent Chelsea cup match.
His performance was a big talking point again as he missed an off the ball challenge by Sol Bamba on Pontus Jansson that led to the United defender being stretchered off. Moments later Scott then booked Berardi for a strong challenge when he appeared to win the ball and later in the half a second foul by the Leeds full-back brought his early bath.
Leeds fans were also unhappy with the official after he denied their side a penalty after Ezgjan Alioski and they made their feelings know at half-time as the official walked off.
It was not the referee’s fault that Leeds struggled defensively in the first half, however, and they went in three down at the break.
The players showed great spirit in the second half and raised hopes of a Millwall-style comeback when benefiting from a Bamba own goal, but as much as they tried their 10 men could not pull off a footballing miracle.
Cardiff, with their side of giants, were obviously going to be a big threat from set pieces and long throw-ins and they had plenty of them early on, winning the first header almost every time.
The visitors went ahead in the ninth minute when Callum Paterson headed home at the far post after Matthew Pennington had failed to clear a corner.
Leeds could have levelled two minutes later with Pierre-Michel Lasogga seeing a well struck 25-yard shot tipped onto the post by Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge.
Lasogga was guilty of a glaring miss in the 24th minute as he seemed certain to score only to head the ball onto the crossbar from inside the six-yard box. The ball then fell to Alioski, but with the goal gaping he was not quick enough to react and saw his shot deflected wide.
The big talking point followed Jansson’s injury after an off the ball incident with former United defender Bamba, but Leeds were still making the running at this stage and Lasogga put substitute Stuart Dallas in only for the Northern Irishman’s shot to be too weak and easily saved by Etheridge.
The game changed towards the end of the half, though, with Cardiff going two up as Pennington was turned too easily by Paterson and from his low cross Junior Hoilett sneaked in to score with makeshift centre-back Berardi seemingly leaving the ball to go out.
Berardi’s sending off followed in injury-time and from the free-kick that he gave away after going to ground the visitors netted again, centre-half Michael Morrison being left free to head home Hoilett’s delivery.
Leeds did make a spirited start to the second half when Dallas’s low cross was turned into his own goal by Bamba.
For all their improved play with a back three system and wings backs Dallas and Alioski doing well the Whites did not manage a shot on goal until Alioski sent a 25-yarder over in the 86th minute.
Cardiff were held at bay, however, and had few chances to load the box with set pieces with new midfielder Adam Forshaw doing a decent job as another makeshift defender. But they did put the icing on their cake in the 89th minute with a fourth goal as Anthony Pilkington was left with a tap-in from a low cross.
United head coach Thomas Christiansen was understandably down after the game.
He said: “It was a very bad day. We didn’t come into the game in a good way and went a goal down early.
“When we were 1-0 down we created two good opportunities, one very clear, and were unable to score.
“After we got the injury to Pontus, the only player we have over 1m 80, in the team, it was difficult to defend against the height they had and the physical way they play with getting crosses and long throw ins.
On the cost of the defeat in terms of losing two players to injury and suspension, Christiansen added: “I don’t believe Pontus will be ready for the next game after his injury.
“We know Berardi goes in 100 per cent when he tackles, but when you have been booked you have to be careful going to ground. You have to be 100 per cent sure you are going to win the ball.
“You have to have intelligence. Of course, they should have it after what’s been happening, but with the emotion it’s difficult. It’s up to the players on the pitch. It’s difficult to show them how not to take a red card because I cannot be in their mind.”
Leeds United 1
(Bamba og 54)
Cardiff City 4
(Paterson 9, Hoilett 42, Morrison 45+4, Pilkington 89)
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Wiedwald, Berardi (sent-off 45+3), Pennington, Jansson (Dallas 30), De Bock, Forshaw, Vieira (Grot 86), Alioski, Hernandez, Roofe, Lasogga (Sacko 74).
Cardiff: Etheridge, Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Traore, Grujic (Halford 83), Ralls, Wildschut (Pilkington 55), Paterson, Hoilett, Madine (Zohore 72).
Referee: Graham Scott