A Luke Murphy screamer and a welcome change of fortune saw Leeds United end their eight-match winless run and take down leaders Bournemouth at Elland Road.
The Whites completed an amazing double over the table toppers, having beaten them away back in September, and rode their luck to see out a 1-0 win, but produced a battling display, playing out the closing stages with 10 men after centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci was sent-off.
Bournemouth were left to rue Yann Kermorgant’s late penalty miss when he blasted his spot kick against the crossbar and also hit the woodwork through Marc Pugh.
But there were times in the first half when Leeds looked more like the team at the top end of the division and they fully deserved their interval lead as head coach Neil Redfearn’s tactic of swamping midfield paid dividends with Rudy Austin a constant menace to Bournemouth and Lewis Cook and Murphy a driving force in the engine room in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
As on Saturday Steve Morison led the line well up front before he picked up an injury and had to come off in the second half.
Bournemouth started impressively, looking pacy up front, and had two chances in the first eight minutes, Callum Wilson shooting tamely wide after a threatening run and Brett Pitman firing wide at the near post.
But United gradually settled and had their first sight of goal when Austin’s header was flicked over by goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
Right-back Simon Francis needed to be alert to save Bournemouth as he got to Morison’s clever low cross just ahead of Alex Mowatt and a low drive by Austin just evaded everyone in the box.
Austin fired an angled shot wide after running onto Morison’s through ball in the box before Morison saw a weak header go wide from Scott Wootton’s cross.
Murphy gave the visitors a warning of what was to come with a 20-yard shot that was well saved by Boruc and 10 minutes later Boruc was left with no chance as United took the lead.
Murphy took a pass from Austin and made space just outside the box before hitting a stunning left foot shot that flew into the top corner of the net.
It was a goal fit to win any game and summed up the remarkable recent transformation in fortunes for the former Crewe midfielder who was scoring for the second successive game.
Stunned into action, Bournemouth responded and thought they had quickly pulled level when Wilson’s shot was parried by home keeper Marco Silvestri and Pitman put away the rebound, but the linesman’s flag ruled out the “goal”.
Another chance soon followed when a harmless looking cross was headed back into the danger zone and Wilson’s header was saved right on the goal-line by Silvestri.
Leeds braced themselves for a Bournemouth onslaught in the second half, but it did not happen initially and Francis escaped with a yellow card for a professional foul on Morison 40 yards from goal.
Austin then cleverly made space for himself in the box only to blaze his angled shot over.
Bournemouth gradually began to take control , however, and missed a chance when Silvestri gave the ball away after charging out of goal, but Matt Ritchie’s long range effort went well wide.
Wilson then missed an even better opportunity when shooting wide with only Silvestri to beat.
Dan Gosling sent a shot from distance wide and despite looking shaky at times the home defence clung on.
United fashioned their one big chance of the half on 77 minutes when Byram raced onto Cook’s superb through ball in the box only to see his shot saved by the legs of Boruc. The rebound came to Austin, but his header was cleared off the line.
Bournemouth were back on the attack soon after when Pugh got free in the box only to see his shot hit the post and Leeds somehow get the ball clear.
Andrew Surman hammered another effort wide before Bournemouth had their biggest chance to equalise in the 86th minute.
Wilson cleverly got ahead of Bellusci and although Charlie Taylor got across to make a good tackle in the box referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot as he spotted an apparent foul by Bellusci.
The Italian defender was deemed to be the last defender and harshly shown a straight red card. The contact did appear to be outside the box so United felt doubly aggrieved, but the jeers turned to cheers when Kermorgant’s spot kick slammed against the bar.
With that went the visitors’ last chance and Leeds saw out the remainder for a vital three points that lifted them up a place to 19th.
Leeds United 1
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, C Taylor, Byram, Murphy, Austin (Berardi 90), Cook, Mowatt (Pearce 87), Morison (Sharp 67).
Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie (Stanislas 72), Arter (Gosling 60), Surman, Pugh, Pitman (Kermorgant 60), Wilson.
Referee: Oliver Langford