Leeds overwhelmed by rampant Bluebirds
Cardiff City overwhelmed Leeds with a breathless display to overtake them at the top of the Championship.
The relentless hosts led 2-0 at the break thanks to Kenneth Zohore’s close-range finish and a thumping 20-yard strike from Junior Hoilett.
Leeds had captain Liam Cooper sent off shortly before half-time before Zohore slid in Cardiff’s third after an hour.
The visitors responded with Kemar Roofe’s deflected effort, but were ultimately well beaten.
Thomas Christiansen’s side drop to second place in the table – three points behind Cardiff – but they could slip further down when third-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers visit Sheffield United on Wednesday.
A Cardiff City Stadium crowd of 27,160, the Bluebirds’ biggest of the season, made for a raucous atmosphere in this eagerly anticipated meeting between the Championship’s first and third-placed sides, separated only by goal difference before kick-off.
Full-blooded and entertaining
The home side thrived on the sense of occasion, producing a full-blooded and, in turn, entertaining performance typical of manager Neil Warnock’s tenure.
Organised defensively, energetic in midfield and quick and powerful in attack, it was Cardiff’s fervent pressing that unsettled Leeds and forced them into the crucial mistake which led to the opening goal.
With the visitors pinned back in their own half and unable to play their favoured possession-based game, Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich slipped and lost possession to Loic Damour.
The French midfielder wasted little time in freeing Hoilett, who skipped through the Leeds defence and squared the ball to Zohore, who fired in from a few yards to score his first goal since the opening weekend of the season.
Cardiff doubled their lead within 10 minutes as Hoilett unleashed a swerving shot from the edge of the penalty area which whistled past Felix Wiedwald into the net.
Leeds’ task was made even harder when centre-back Cooper was sent off for a second yellow card, courtesy of an ill-timed lunge at Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
It got worse for the visitors as Zohore tapped in the hosts’ third after some crisp build-up play and, although Christiansen’s side gave themselves a glimmer of hope as Roofe’s deflected effort bobbled in, Cardiff coasted to a fourth win from five home league games this season.
Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock said:
“I’m proud of the whole club. The fans were fantastic, the players responded and I thought there was excitement all over the show.
“I thought the strikers looked dangerous all the time and it was great to see Ken get two taps-ins.
“I told him it would be one from a yard that gets him back on it. He’s played well over the last few weeks but he never had a chance.”
Leeds United manager Thomas Christiansen said:
“Disappointed of course with the result in a top game. It was important in the first half, the two mistakes brought Cardiff into the game without creating any problems for us.
“Then the red card to finalise the first half was very bad… if we want to come back into the game. The performance of the team in the second half was very good, a good response, good character.
“The team played better with 10 than 11.
“They [Cardiff] did what I expected them to do. It’s a strong team at home with their crowd.”
Ward 6 (for Zohore 76 mins)
Fenney (for Mendez Laing 85 mins)
Halford (for Bamba 92 mins)