BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Pablo Hernandez scored a late winner for Leeds United as Millwall’s gallant effort at Elland Road ended in the narrowest of defeats.
Last season the Lions came here and won 4-3 in a thriller.
And this match didn’t fall a whole lot shorter in the drama stakes.
The big question is whether Leeds’ Pontus Jansson should have been sent off when Millwall were leading 2-1.
Instead the Championship promotion-chasers kept their full quota of players on the pitch and their attacking quality, which the visitors stoically repelled so often, eventually told.
Millwall’s two Bens – Thompson and Marshall – had twice pushed Millwall ahead in the contest. David Martin saved Patrick Bamford’s penalty in the opening 45 minutes as well.
Millwall looked a threat on the counter-attack and Leeds keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell had already had to produce a smart save to his left to keep out Jed Wallace’s shot at the expense of a corner.
And their opening goal was a quality finish from Thompson. It looked as if the ball out to the right would run out of play but Mahlon Romeo managed to loop across for the young midfielder to finish from close range.
Leeds had a huge chance to level soon after. Ezgjan Allioski went down under a challenge from Wallace but Bamford’s penalty was kept out by the legs of Martin.
The Lions keeper, at fault for Brighton’s stoppage-time leveller in the FA Cup tie against Brighton, produced another big save as he blocked Jack Harrison’s close-range effort.
But Leeds did level on 34 minutes, and it came after a Millwall counter had been snuffed out. Wallace overcooked a ball forward in a dangerous break and United marauded up the pitch with Hernandez clinically clipping in Luke Ayling’s low pullback from the right.
Millwall had to weather a strong start by the hosts to the second half, but were back in front on 56 minutes.
Romeo broke forward and Wallace picked out Marshall, completely unmarked on the left. The on-loan Norwich man cut inside Liam Cooper inside the box, the United centre-back taking away his legs. Marshall stepped up to send Peacock-Farrell the wrong way from the spot.
Then came a big talking point. Jansson only saw yellow for a high challenge on Wallace – the Millwall attacker feeling he had been felled by an elbow. The rattled Leeds number 18, only shown a yellow card, was quickly replaced by Marcelo Bielsa.
If Leeds had been down to 10 men, it would have helped with the Lions staunching the pressure to follow.
Instead, the high-fliers moved back level, with Ayling planting substitute Barry Douglas’ cross past Martin.
Martin produced an unorthodox save from Adam Forshaw’s long-range strike, spilling it around his right upright. Kalvin Philips headed over at the near post from the delivery in.
But Leeds were relentless. Their 82nd-minute goal came via Tyler Roberts, who fired a low ball across the six-yard box and Hernandez was there to stab home. Elland Road, or nearly all of it, went into delirium.