MUCH-improved Leeds United bounced back from consecutive defeats as goals from Chris Wood and Pablo Hernandez overcame dangerous Championship visitors Bristol City at Elland Road.
United created a glut of chances in an entertaining first half and deservedly went 1-0 up when Chris Wood bagged his 22nd goal of the season from a quickly-taken Hernandez free-kick.
Hernandez then doubled Leeds’s advantage just two minutes after the break when his low shot took a wicked deflection off Aden Flint.
Leeds were denied what looked like a blatant penalty when Flint handballed, but Bristol City went on to create a host of chances themselves and Garry Monk’s men were left grateful to a tremendous display from Rob Green, who produced a string of fine saves.
Green was finally beaten in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time when Milan Djuric converted a corner, but Leeds had already done enough for victory to open up a six-point cushion to the teams outside of the play-off spots.
Leeds went close to taking a second-minute lead when the stretching Kemar Roofe narrowly failed to head home a Hernandez cross from three yards out after fine work from Hadi Sacko.
After a lovely flick from Wood released Hernandez, Roofe then fired wide shortly before the tenth minute.
Striker Wood subsequently kept his composure to slot home a low finish past the onrushing Fabian Giefer to bag his 22nd goal of the season and give United a richly deserved lead.
Lee Tomlin was booked for dissent and the Whites’ onslaught continued with Ronaldo Vieira the next to go close when firing just over, though City had home hearts in mouths down the other end when Cotterill’s deep cross was scrambled clear as Joe Bryan failed to convert.
The visitors were then dealt a blow when top scorer Tammy Abraham went down injured and had to be substituted for Matty Taylor eight minutes before the break.
City’s Cotterill was then booked for a sly kick on Vieira and Leeds should have gone 2-0 up soon after, but Roofe tried to walk the ball into the net rather than shoot when well placed.
City had an immediate chance after the restart when half-time substitute Djuric saw his low shot blocked by Gaetano Berardi after a scramble in the Leeds area.
But just one minute later United doubled their lead when, from nothing, a low shot from Hernandez took an acute deflection off Flint, leaving Giefer with no chance.
City refused to throw in the towel and Taylor fired a decent low shot at Green before Tomlin’s clever lob sailed narrowly over the cross bar.
On the hour mark, Green was forced desperately to claw away a close-range header from Djuric before the Whites’ goalkeeper brilliantly tipped a raking effort wide from Bryan.
Leeds were denied what looked a certain penalty with Luke Ayling’s effort hitting Flint’s outstretched arm, but referee Jeremy Simpson instead awarded United a corner.
Green produced another solid save to beat away a free-kick from Cotterill and Leeds should have gone 3-0 up, but a woeful first touch from loanee Mo Barrow saw the chance go begging.
Green saved Leeds yet again at the other end with a brilliant save to claw away a Djuric header.
Leeds went close to adding a third when a free-kick from Kalvin Phillips was curled just wide and over.
City should have pulled a goal back in the second minute of stoppage-time when Taylor rounded the otherwise unbeatable Green, but fired wide.
Flint thumped a volley against the crossbar and over before Green saved a Taylor shot with his legs.
From the resulting corner City bagged the goal they deserved when Djuric converted.
But Leeds had done enough for the victory that gets their promotion bid back on track after two successive losses.
Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Jansson, Bartley, Berardi, O’Kane (Phillips 77), Vieira, Sacko, Roofe (Barrow 62), Hernandez (Doukara 83), Wood. Unused substitutes: Silvestri, Cooper, Pedraza, Dallas.
Bristol City: Giefer, Little (Djuric 45), Flint, Wright, Golbourne (O’Neil 86), Cotterill, Hegeler, Brownhill, Bryan, Abraham (Taylor 37), Tomlin. Unused substitutes: Fielding, Matthews, Pack, Paterson.
Referee: J Simpson.