Leeds United could not make it a hat-trick of comebacks over the festive period as their seven-match winning run ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Hull City.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men kept going to the end and had two efforts cleared off the line as well as managing to get in 19 efforts on goal, but were below their best and paid the price for a less than effective first half display.
Hull themselves are now in a good run with four straight victories and a goal in each half from Jarrod Bowen gave them their big three points at Elland Road.
Leeds looked off the pace from the start with some poor passing leading to them being their own worst enemy. The first woeful pass came from Adam Forshaw in the second minute and led to the visitors being presented with their first chance, but Bowen’s shot was deflected over.
When United began to settle better Mateusz Klich sent a volley well over and Jack Harrison then Pablo Hernandez had efforts blocked.
Hernandez fired a volley not far over after getting on the end of a Klich pass while Kamil Grosicki almost caught Bailey Peacock-Farrell out with an angled free-kick, but the ball hit the side netting to the home keeper’s relief.
Hull went in front in the 25th minute when Kalvin Phillips failed to clear a scramble in the area and the ball fell to Bowen who calmly found the net.
Leeds struggled to respond although Phillips headed over from a free-kick.
Hernandez was always the Whites’ brightest spark and after a good run at the City defence his shot was well saved by keeper David Marshall.
Into the second half there was little change in pattern initially with Hull looking dangerous on the break and they got their second goal as Bowen put the ball away from a rebound after Grosicki’s initial effort had been blocked by Peacock-Farrell.
Jon Toral sent a volley over from 20 yards before Leeds finally laid siege to the Hull goal in the final quarter of the game.
Luke Ayling came within a whisker of pulling a goal back with a header from a corner that was cleared off the line at the far post by Toral.
A minute later keeper Marshall had to get down to save a Hernandez free-kick while Jack Clarke’s low shot was deflected over.
Klich saw a shot from the edge of the box blocked and the follow-up was fired over by Ezgjan Alioski.
Marshall saved easily from Klich’s weak shot and the keeper also comfortably kept out a shot from Jamie Shackleton.
At the other end Will Keane was not far off target with a shot following a swift break, but it was generally all United now. However, the finish was missing to bring about another comeback.
Kemar Roofe, kept quiet for most of the game, shot wide from 20 yards and fit again substitute Tyler Roberts was also wide from closer range following a good build-up.
Roberts thought he had scored in the 87th minute, but saw his low shot cleared off the line.
In injury-time Roofe got up well only for his header to be well saved by Marshall. Klich then shot inches wide from the edge of the box and it was all over, the wining run had ended.
Leeds remain three points clear at the top, however, with Norwich losing to Derby County.
Head coach Bielsa was not too critical of his team despite the defeat.
He said: “The performance of the team and the kind of game we played were not particularly different from the other games we’ve played.
“Usually we have three times the chances of the opponent to score and dominate the game and today’s game was not different in that sense.
“Maybe we should have used more shots from distance. Our play was usual to what we do in attack and our play in the middle and the centre put us in good positions to shoot from outside the box. In that sense we didn’t create as much danger as we could have created.
“We made some wrong passes in our half, which prevent possession from becoming attacking action. In the offensive play I didn’t see any more lack of precision than usual.
“The first goal was not because the opponent had a skill we could not stop, but I don’t see any precise mistake. The second goal the support of Alioski didn’t have a positive result and the opponent created a legitimate danger.
“Usually the number 14 and the other winger are the most important players of the opponent. We did a double mark on them, with another player helping. Until the second goal this way of neutralising the wingers worked pretty well.
“The opponent scored two goals, but I don’t think we played bad defensively.
“We had eight or nine chances to score. We had to attack in small spaces with eight places in defensive positions.
“The opponent was not bad even if their main feature was to defend because when they recovered the ball they tried to play.”
Leeds United 0
Hull City 2
(Bowen 25, 59)
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling (Shackleton 77), Jansson, Phillips, Douglas (Roberts 64), Forshaw, Alioski, Klich, Hernandez, Harrison (Clarke 45), Roofe.
Hull: Marshall, Kane, Burke, De Wijs, Kingsley, Stewart, Henriksen, Bowen, Goebel (Toral 45), Grosicki (Lichaj 73), Keane (Batty 90+5).
Referee: John Brooks.