Leeds United are still searching for their first win of 2018 after losing an amazing incident-packed seven-goal thriller against Millwall at Elland Road.
The Whites had to play for more than a half with 10 men again after skipper Liam Cooper was sent-off, but they fought back from two down at half-time to lead 3-2 only to throw it away to let in two late goals to lose 4-3.
Questions have to be asked of United’s game management as they failed to see out the game at the end and failed to respond to Millwall going ahead in the opening half after making a lively start.
The action came right from the opening minute when both teams had chances. Aiden O’Brien got in behind the home defence straight from the kick-off only to see his angled shot beaten away by Felix Wiedwald. The ball went straight down the other end and Pierre-Michel Lasogga - who went on to score twice - could not make much contact with a header under pressure.
Lasogga headed wide soon after then fluffed a glorious chance on six minutes when unmarked in the box only to head the ball straight at Millwall keeper Jordan Archer.
Lasogga was then put in the clear in the box by Kalvin Phillips’ pass, but his shot was saved by quickly advancing keeper Archer.
Ezgjan Alioski was next to have a chance in a thrilling start as he cut in from the right only to see his shot saved by Archer at two attempts.
Suddenly the game switched as Millwall found their feet. Lee Gregory easily went round Cooper to get into the box, but dragged his shot just wide.
Two minutes later it appeared Jed Wallace had volleyed the visitors ahead after a clearance fell to him just outside the box, but a late linesman’s flag denied them with Steve Morison judged to have interfered with play standing in front of keeper Wiedwald while well offside.
Leeds did not heed the warning as seconds later they were behind as O’Brien got above Gaetano Berardi at the far post to head home.
United’s response was poor and they could have been further behind as they struggled to cope with Millwall’s giant centre-back Jake Cooper when he came forward from set pieces.
Cooper headed one effort wide, O’Brien sent a header over and Shane Hutchinson’s header bounced off the top of the crossbar.
The flashpoint came when Liam Cooper’s strong challenge on George Saville provoked an equally strong reaction from Millwall players and their bench, all intent on getting the Leeds player red carded. Referee David Coote, who struggled with many decisions during the game, appeared to be booking the home skipper, but after the scuffle on the touchline then came up with a red and United were down to 10 for the third game in a row.
Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen hesitated to put a defender on, although he had Matthew Pennington stripped and ready and before the change was made Millwall scored again with Gregory left with a tap-in to convert Morison’s low cross.
The second half was a different story as somehow with 10 men Leeds pulled off an incredible comeback.
The half was less than a minute old when they pulled a goal back as the ball fell nicely in the box for Lasogga and he lashed home an unstoppable shot.
Suddenly the Whites were pouring forward and they equalised on 55 minutes as debutant left-back Laurens De Bock’s awkward cross was spilled by keeper Archer and in a massive scramble Roofe poked the ball into the net.
Hernandez shot just wide after running at the Millwall defence and unbelievably the Whites were ahead with their third goal in 17 minutes, Lasogga scoring with a superb strike from just outside the box that arrowed low into the bottom corner of the net.
It looked like it would prove the winner with Leeds seeing the game out well until the late change round after the exhausted Roofe and Lasogga were both taken off and Leeds had no forwards to put on.
With the hosts looked to just defend the closing stages they paid the price as the ball to former United striker Tom Elliott, who produced a crsip finish to level the game at 3-3 with three minutes remaining.
Millwall then came up with an injury-time winner as Leeds lost the ball from a throw-in on the half-way line and the ball was switched to attack by the visitors with Wallace seeing his shot take a deflection to beat Wiedwaldf.
Still there could have been more drama, but Conor Shaughnessy’s effort was saved by Archer and an amazing game ended 4-3.
Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen was obviously unhappy at the end of the game.
He said: “I’m very disappointed as once again we come out of the game without a point. Many emotions came through, but we cannot afford to lose our possibilities in this league with the red cards.
“You saw the response of the team in the second half. Unfortunately we have to shoot ourself in the feet and react. Perhaps the tactic should be to start the next game with 10 because that’s when we play best!
“The fans saw the big effort the team made in the second half, but in football I prefer to play like s*** and win.
“We changed the system for the second half to play with three at the back and it was unbelievable, we played much better and showed the pride we hadn’t in the first half. The response was great.
“I don’t know if should have been a red card or not. It was a strong challenge and I was told in this league you allow more.
“Today all the fouls we made was a yellow cards and the fouls they did was not. But there was nothing we could do.”
Leeds United 3
(Lasogga 46, 62, Roofe 55)
(O’Brien 18, Gregory 43, Elliott 87, Wallace 90+2)
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Wiedwald, Berardi, Jansson, Cooper (sent-off 37), De Bock, Vieira (Pennington 43), Phillips, Roofe (Dallas 74), Hernandez, Alioski, Lasogga (Shaughnessy 83).
Millwall: Archer, McLoughlin (Romeo 82), Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith (Elliott 66), Wallace, Williams, Saville, O’Brien (Ferguson 63), Morison, Gregory.
Referee: David Coote